Tad Boyle, Colorado
Boyle’s four-year run at Northern Colorado culminated with a 25–8 record in 2009-10 that featured a 12–4 mark in the Big Sky. UNC joined the Big Sky in ’06-07, Boyle’s first season, and improved its league record from 2–14 to 6–10 to 8–8 to 12–4. With Cory Higgins and Alec Burks, the Big 12 Freshman of the Year last season, back in Boulder, Boyle and the Buffs could surprise in ’10-11.
Tony Barbee, Auburn
The former John Calipari aide did an outstanding job in four years at UTEP, guiding the Miners to an overall mark of 82–52 and a 39–25 record in Conference USA. His final UTEP club went 26–7 and won the league with a 15–1 record. Barbee is known as an outstanding recruiter, and he made a big splash at Auburn in the spring, signing Luke Cothron, a top-50 national recruit who also had offers from Kentucky, Tennessee and UConn.
Brad Brownell, Clemson
Brownell is far from a household name, but he has been a very successful — and highly respected — head coach for the past eight seasons, four at UNC Wilmington and four at Wright State. In those eight seasons, he has never had a losing conference record and has taken three teams to the NCAA Tournament.
Donnie Jones, UCF
Jones, a Billy Donovan disciple, is returning to the Sunshine State after three seasons as the head coach at Marshall, a C-USA rival of UCF. He went 55–41 overall and 26–22 in league play at Marshall. The Thundering Herd’s 11–5 C-USA mark in ’09-10 was the school’s first winning conference record since its days in the MAC in 2000-01.
Oliver Purnell, DePaul
Purnell has never been known for his Xs and Os, but the guy has won a lot of games in his 22 years as a head coach. And there has been a consistent theme during his stops at Radford, Old Dominion, Dayton and Clemson: His program improves each season. He went 12–2 in the Big South in his final season at Radford; 21–7 in the CAA over his last two years at ODU; 24–8 in the A-10 in his last two seasons at Dayton; and his final three Clemson teams went a combined 28–20 in the difficult ACC.
Tad Boyle, Colorado