UConn named Kevin Ollie to replace Jim Calhoun as the Huskies’ head coach. But Ollie was only given a one-year contract. If the school opts to go in another direction after the 2012-13 season, here are some likely candidates.
Shaka Smart, head coach, VCU
Smart is one of the most respected young coaches in the game. He has an overall record of 84–28 and a 38–16 mark in the Colonial in three seasons at VCU. He is best known for taking the ’10-12 Rams to the Final Four, but his most impressive accomplishment has to be guiding last year’s team, which had to replace four key seniors, to a 15–3 record in the CAA.
Brad Stevens, head coach, Butler
He’s considered by many college basketball observers to be among the top five coaches in the game. Stevens led Butler the National Championship game in two consecutive seasons and has an overall record of 139–40 in five years. Butler is making the move from the Horizon League to the Atlantic 10 in 2012-13, but the program is well-equipped to remain competitive in its new league with Stevens running the show.
Dan Hurley, head coach, Rhode Island
Hurley lacks experience — he’s only been a collegiate head coach for two seasons — but he could be a top candidate if he enjoys some degree of success in his first year at Rhode Island. He inherited a Wagner program that went 5–26 in ’09-10 and two years later led the Seahawks to a school-record 25 wins and a second-place finish in the Northeast Conference. He is a New Jersey native who spent 10 successful years as a high school coach.
Buzz Williams, head coach, Marquette
Williams has been a consistent winner at Marquette, with an overall record of 96–44 and a 46–26 record in the Big East. He has led all four of his Golden Eagle teams to the NCAA Tournament, including back-to-back trips to the Sweet 16. He has rebuffed overtures from other high-major programs in recent seasons.
Steve Prohm, head coach, Murray State
Prohm is entering his second season as the head coach at Murray State. He guided the Racers to a 27–1 regular-season record and then added three more wins in the OVC Tournament. Murray, a No. 6 seed, beat Colorado State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to Marquette in the Round of 32.
Frank Martin, head coach, South Carolina
Martin recently made the move from Kansas State — which he guided to the NCAA Tournament four times in five seasons — to South Carolina, where he faces a significant rebuilding project. He might be an attractive candidate to UConn if he does well in his first season in Columbia.
Anthony Grant, head coach, Alabama
Grant has a decent record in three seasons at Alabama — he is 63–39 overall and 27–21 in the SEC — but has only been to the NCAA Tournament once with the Tide. He did take VCU to the NCAAs twice in his three years with the Rams and had a 45–9 record in the Colonial. He is an outstanding recruiter.
Keep an eye on …
Neither Ralph Willard at Seton Hall or Mike Rice at Rutgers has done enough at their current jobs to warrant much interest from UConn, but either coach could emerge as a viable candidate with a breakthrough season. Both enjoyed success at previous stops — Willard at Iona and Rice at Robert Morris.
— By Mitch Light