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Rising Head Coaches In 2020

By Jake Stanbrough, 01/07/21, 10:45AM PST

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Rising Head Coaches in 2020

To be a coach considered for this list, you must not have been a head coach in one of the power six conferences before, must have at least two years completed at your current school, and must be willing to rise as a coach (ex. Mark Few will presumably never leave Gonzaga despite being very capable). Coaches that fit this criteria and have a resume that puts them in contention of earning a bigger/better job have made this list. 

After months of research and consulting with AD's, presidents, search firms and numerous influencers in the basketball space - We present the Silver Waves Media 40 Rising Head Coaches in alphabetical order:


Jeremy Ballard - Florida International


Courtesy of Image Reflex

Ballard has put some swagger back into Florida International in his first two seasons in the driver seat. The former VCU assistant under Shaka Smart guided the Panthers to a 20-14 in his first season. While impressive, what makes the feat even more impressive is that it marked just the third time in school history that FIU logged 20-or-more victories and were tied for the second most in a single season, while the 10 C-USA wins was the most since joining the conference. The team advanced to their second postseason in program history as a result and were able to come away with their first postseason win as well. As a team, the Panthers set several single-season school records, including points (2,798), rebounds (1,218), assists (491) and steals (359), led the nation in steals-per-game (10.6), turnover margin (5.6) and turnovers forced (19.6), and was second in total steals. He continued on that same trajectory in his second season where he maintained much of the same success by winning 19 games. Ballar is off to a 7-3 start in 2019-20 with a career record of 46-30 (.605).

John Becker - Vermont


Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

Becker’s success at Vermont has been remarkable. The program has been arguably the most consistent low major program over the past decade while compiling a 221-92 (.706) overall record. During that nine year span, the Catamounts have been to three NCAA Tournaments, two National Invitation Tournaments, and have never finished below third place in the America East Conference race. During the 2016-17 season, the Catamounts set a school record for conference wins (16) while going undefeated, set a school record for overall wins (29), and became the first program to ever sweep the American East's major awards - John Becker (Coach of the Year), Trae Bell-Haynes (Player of the Year), Anthony Lamb (Rookie of the Year), Dre Wills (Defensive Player of the Year), and Darren Payen (Sixth Man of the Year). Becker has garnered plenty of Coach of the Year honors during his tenure and is 19-5 (.792) in the America East Tournament.

Jerrod Calhoun - Youngstown State


Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

Calhoun has started to revitalize a program that hasn’t had a coach that has collectively been over the .500 hump in 35 years. He has increased the program’s win total by 10 in two seasons and is off to a 4-1 start in 2020. Youngstown State’s 18 wins this past season were the most since 2012-13 and ranked tied for the fourth most in YSU's Division I era. The 10 league wins tied a school record for most wins in Horizon League play. Calhoun, who comes from the Bob Huggins coaching tree, isn’t a stranger to this kind of turnaround though. At Fairmont State, a NCAA Division II school in Fairmont, WV, Calhoun orchestrated a 15 game turnaround in one season. It was Calhoun’s first season as a head coach that would serve to be a preview of what was to come. Fairmont State went on to go to four NCAA Division II Tournaments in five years that included one national runner-up finish in Calhoun’s final year. Altogether, Calhoun put together a 124-38 (.765) overall record in those five seasons and a 87-23 (.791) conference record. Prior to his time in Fairmont, Calhoun spent time as an assistant at Walsh, a NAIA school, and an assistant at West Virginia. While at Walsh, they won the 2005 NAIA national championship while advanced to the Elite Eight in 2006 and the Sweet 16 in 2007. Calhoun also played two years of college basketball at Cleveland State for Rollie Massimino.

Brian “Penny” Collins - Tennessee State


Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

Brian “Penny” Collins is making his impact known at Tennessee State much like he did in his time as a head coach at Columbia State and as an assistant at East Tennessee State. The tigers increased their win total by 9 games from year one to year two and jumped from the tenth spot in the Ohio Valley to the fifth spot. The instant impact was similar to the turnaround he accomplished at Columbia State where he took a team that went 0-27 in his first season to a team that compiled a 54-11 (.831) overall record in his final two seasons leading them to two-straight NJCAA national tournament appearances. Those two appearances included one Sweet Sixteen and one Elite Eight. From there, Collins would also make a huge impact at East Tennessee State where he was able to recruit key players like TJ Cromer (SOCON Player of the Year) and Bo Hodges (First Team All-SOCON) that each played key roles in helping ETSU clinch two different NCAA Tournament berths. Collins played for Rick Bryd at Belmont where he had much success as a player before embarking on a professional basketball career overseas.

Rick Croy - Cal Baptist


Courtesy of Press Enterprise

Croy has completely revolutionized the Cal Baptist program in seven years as a head coach that has included a transition from NCAA Division II to Division I. Croy’s Lancers boast a 169-54 (.758) overall record in that time. In just two seasons in the WAC as a division one program, the Lancers have risen to a top two spot in the league and one 20-win season. In fact, the Lancers have combined to win 37 games - a new NCAA record for most wins in the first two years of a transition program. This is much of the same success that CBU had as a NCAA Division II team. The team never finished below third place, had five 20-win seasons, and went to five NCAA Division II Tournaments that included one Sweet Sixteen berth and one Elite Eight. 20 players have earned all-conference honors in those seven years as well. Prior to CBU, Croy spent time as an assistant at St. Mary’s under Randy Bennett, as a head coach at Citrus College, as an assistant at UC Riverside, and as an assistant at Concordia. Each of these stops have been marked with success as well. In three seasons at St. Mary’s the gaels advanced to two NCAA Tournaments, in five seasons at Citrus the program turned in one CCCAA state championship, in two seasons at UC Riverside he recruited the conference Freshman of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and the program’s all-time leading scorer, and in one season at Concordia he helped recruit the class that would go on to win the NAIA National Championship.

Travis DeCuire - Montana


Courtesy of Billings Gazette

On a conference level, DeCuire is the fastest Big Sky coach ever to win 50 league games, needing just 69 games to do so, and his current .759 winning percentage ranks third in league history and first among those who have coached more than three seasons. Overall, only two Big Sky coaches have ever averaged more than DeCuire’s 21.2 wins per season, and both coached three or fewer seasons. Even more remarkably, excluding the 2019-20 campaign that was shortened due to COVID-19 – Montana has played in the Big Sky tournament championship game four times. The result has been two NCAA Tournament appearances and one NIT appearance. DeCuire has coached seven first-team All-Big Sky Conference selections, in addition to three second-team honorees, plus the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, Newcomer of the Year (twice) and Big Sky tournament MVP (twice). Over the past two seasons, he has developed three of the top eight scorers in school history. DeCuire has also spent time at Old Dominion as an assistant and Cal Berkeley.

Nathan Davis - Bucknell


Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

Davis has been a large part of Bucknell’s rise to national prominence as both an assistant and as a head coach. He spent five years as the top assistant coach under Pat Flannery and was on the bench for the team’s historic NCAA Tournament victories in 2005 and 2006. In 2005, 14th-seeded Bucknell upset No. 3 Kansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, marking the first NCAA win in school and Patriot League history. A year later, the Bison achieved the first top-25 national ranking in program history, went back to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 9 seed, and then defeated Arkansas in the first round. His efforts as an assistant coach would ultimately help earn him the head job at NCAA Division III Randolph-Macon. Davis achieved incredible success in his six seasons with the Yellow Jackets, posting a 141-39 (.783) record with three Old Dominion Athletic Conference championships, six NCAA Tournament berths, and a Division III Final Four appearance in 2009-10. The success helped lead him back to Lewisburg, PA where he has led the Bison to a 103-65 (.613) overall record, which ranks as the best winning percentage in school history. Bucknell has won four regular season league titles in five seasons, been to two NCAA Tournaments, and has appeared in one NIT during Davis’ second stint in Lewisburg.

Darian Devries - Drake


Courtesy of Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

Devries is off to an extremely hot start in 2019-20, but it doesn't come as too huge of a surprise. The Bulldogs were starting to trend in this direction after Devries took the handle bars from Niko Medved after one season. Devries has since gone 56-24 (.700) with one Missouri Valley regular season championship that earned him MVC Coach of the Year in his first season. The 44 wins in Devries' first two seasons marks the fourth most successful stretch in program history. Additionally, he guided the Bulldogs to the program to two straight 20-win seasons which marked the first time since 1971 the program had won 20 or more games in consecutive seasons and just the third time it had occurred in program history. DeVries’ first recruiting class at Drake included a junior college All-American, graduate transfers with all-conference pedigrees, a 7-footer and international talent.  That roster eventually earned eight All-MVC honors, including MVC Defensive Player of the Year Nick McGlynn. Before taking over the Bulldogs’ program, DeVries was an assistant coach at Creighton University for 17 years and spent 20 total seasons on staff with the Bluejays. During that span, he helped guide the Bluejays to 19 postseason appearances and 12 NCAA Tournament berths.

Matt Figger - Austin Peay


Courtesy of Clarksville Now

Figger has capitalized in Clarksville, TN at Austin Peay since coming off of his appearance in the NCAA Final Four as an assistant at South Carolina under Frank Martin. Figger is 62-38 (.620) in his three seasons with the Governors and has gone 39-15 (.720) in the Ohio Valley Conference. It's the best stretch at Austin Peay in the last ten years. It also comes after a season of just 11 wins prior to Figger's arrival. The Governors have since turned in seasons of 19 wins, 22 wins, 21 wins, and should be set for an even bigger jump in 2020-21 if everything holds true. Figger and his Austin Peay squad returned OVC Player of the Year potential Terry Taylor and Jordyn Adams, the nation's No. 4 leading freshman scorer last season. Rebuilding is not a foreign thing to Figger though. His job as an assistant at South Carolina entailed trying to revive a program that hadn't had a 20-win season since 2008-09, that hadn't advanced to the NCAA Tournament since 2003-04, and that had not won a NCAA Tournament game since 1973. He helped do some of the same at Kansas State as an assistant as well. In his first season on staff, Kansas State won its first NCAA Tournament game since 1988 after posting a 20-win season—just its fourth since 1990. The 2009-10 team won a school-record 29 games and appeared in the programs first Elite Eight in over two decades. He inked two McDonald's All-Americans at Kansas State, including Michael Beasley, who would earn National Freshman and Player of the Year in 2008 before becoming a first-round pick in the NBA Draft.

Eran Ganot - Hawaii


Courtesy of ESPN

Ganot, who has won more games (86) in his first five seasons than any other coach in Hawaii program history, has lifted the University of Hawaii program to new heights since his arrival as an associate head coach under Randy Bennett at St. Mary’s. He took a program that was hit with NCAA violations upon his arrival to the Big West regular season and tournament titles, the most wins in university history (28), the school's first NCAA tournament appearance since 2002, and an opening-round upset over No. 4 seed California for the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament win. Despite the effects of the violations, Ganot continued to push forward and helped orchestrate a 2017-18 team that was only one of two teams in program history to beat each and every team in the Big West Conference and a 2018-19 team that notched two wins over two PAC 12 opponents, marking the first time since 1975-76. 10 all-conference players, including Big West Player of the Year Stefan Jankovic, have helped pace the program’s efforts during Ganot’s time in Honolulu. Ganot is 86-56 (.606) in five seasons as the head coach at Hawaii and was 124-44 record (.738) during his five years as an assistant with St. Mary’s.

Todd Golden - San Francisco


Courtesy of The Athletic

Golden comes from a pedigree that knows how to win. As a Randy Bennett and Bruce Pearl disciple, Golden has quickly risen from being an assistant at Columbia to his current position at the University of San Francisco. Golden currently sits as the 7th-youngest head coach in the country and has already been able to do so much in his young career. Teams Golden have been a part of have routinely been amongst the nation's best defensively. In doing so, Golden has been a part of numerous teams that have passed the 20-win mark and has contributed greatly on the recruiting front as well. Frankie Ferrari, Charles Minlend, and Souley Boum have all been all-conference boosts during Golden's stint in the Bay Area that have led to an 85-54 (.612) overall record with key wins over No. 4 Virginia, No. 15 St. Mary's, Cal, and Nevada to name a few. 

Earl Grant - College of Charleston


Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

Grant has gone 120-82 (.594) in six seasons at Charleston and 92-41 (.692) in the last four seasons after Grant spent his initial two years rebuilding Charleston into a team that would place 2nd in the conference standings in his third season and 1st in the conference standings in his fourth season. Much of the reason for this success can be drawn to the players that Grant has been able to recruit and develop during his time in South Carolina. Charleston has had 11 all-conference honorees over the past six seasons. Two of those players have gone on to be NBA Draft picks. Jarrell Brantley was a 2019 NBA Draft Pick and Grant Riller was a 2020 NBA Draft Pick. College of Charleston was one of only 21 NCAA Division I schools to have players drafted in both the 2019 and 2020 NBA Drafts. The talent pool has helped give Charleston their great success under Grant and ultimately helped give Charleston their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1999. Grant also had large success as a recruiter for Clemson, Wichita State, and Winthrop.

Jared Grasso - Bryant


Courtesy of G Fiume

Grasso has used his championship pedigree to his advantage and has been aggressive in his first two years in charge at Bryant. The former lead assistant under Tim Cluess at Iona came to Bryant after advancing to a more than impressive 5 NCAA Tournaments in 8 seasons in New Rochelle. Perhaps even more impressive is that the Gaels had 7 opportunities to do so in 8 seasons as Grasso helped lead a team that advanced to the MAAC Tournament Championship in 7 times. As Iona’s recruiting coordinator, Grasso was instrumental in the recruiting and coaching of a group that included 11 MAAC first-team all-conference selections, three MAAC Player of the Year honorees and one MAAC Rookie of the Year during his time with the Gaels that ultimately greatly boosted their chances. Now entering his third season in the pilot seat at Bryant, Grasso has started to use his winning recipe to turn around a program that has struggled for much of its history. The Bulldogs were the only team in the country to triple their win total in Grasso's first year and multiplied it by five in his second year. The seven-win improvement in Grasso's first year at the helm ranked seventh among the 55 Division I head coaches in their first season leading a program. The Bulldogs are off to a great start too in 2020-21 as they have already won half of the games they won last year as they approach the conference slate. Those games include a win over UMASS and a one point loss to Syracuse.

Ray Harper - Jacksonville State


Courtesy of Joe Robbins

Harper, a seven-time NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year, four time runner-up, and two-time National Champion, has been getting it done in a big way at Jacksonville State. In just his first season at the helm, Harper was able to improve the program’s win total by 12 games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. The team finished 20-15 after going just 8-23 the previous season. It was their just their second 20-win season in the program's NCAA Division I era. The Gamecocks have been able to sustain that success as well. Richardson helped turn in two more 20-win seasons the following two years accumulating an overall record of 67-35 (.657) after going just 30-63 in the three years before his arrival. Immediate success was a part of his work as the head coach at Western Kentucky as well. The program enjoyed back-to-back trips to the NCAA Tournament in his first two years at WKU. His impressive resume doesn’t stop there. Harper also won an additional two national championships at the NAIA level with Oklahoma City and had a runner-up finish there as well. His .736 (511-183) career winning percentage is best among all active OVC coaches and his NCAA Division II title game appearances each season from 1998-03 make him the first head coach since John Wooden to appear in six-straight NCAA National Championship games.

Ben Jacobson - Northern Iowa


Courtesy of Northern Iowa Athletics

Northern Iowa has been one of the most consistent programs in the Missouri Valley over the last decade. Much of that success can be traced back to Jacobson and the job he has done in fifteen seasons at the helm. He is 291-174 (.625) overall during that time. In addition, the Panthers have reached the NCAA four times, have compiled a 4-4 NCAA Tournament record with one Sweet Sixteen appearance, and have finished in the top three in the Missouri Valley eight times. Prior to him joining the staff in 2001, the Panthers had only finished in the upper half twice since joining the conference in 1991. Jacobson has nine players earn First Team All-MVC, eight earn second team, and eight earn third team or honorable mention in his tenure. He has also seen UNI honored with three of Larry Bird MVC Player of the Year honorees in Adam Koch (2010), Seth Tuttle (2015) and AJ Green (2020). Many of these players have helped Jacobson become one of the most decorated coaches in Missouri Valley history.

Chris Jans - New Mexico State


Courtesy of Patrick Breen

Jans leads this list in winning percentage with a remarkable 103-29 (.780) career record as a head coach, an 82-17 (.828) career record at New Mexico State, and a 42-3 (.933) record in the WAC. In fact, the (.780) winning percentage is good for second among all active division one head coaches. In addition, New Mexico State has been able to record it’s best season in program history, win three WAC regular season titles, and go to the NCAA Tournament two times in three years (2019-2020 NCAA Tournament cancelled). His efforts have garnered him multiple Coach of the Year awards. The dominance has been aided by All-WAC honorees in Ivan Aurrecoechea, Jabari Rice, Trevelin Queen, Terrell Brown, Evan Gilyard, and Zach Lofton that Jans has recruited and groomed. Prior to his time at NMSU, Jans played a big part in a dominant Wichita State span that featured a Final Four run, took a Bowling Green team to its best season in school history in just one year after losing twenty games the year prior, and was an excellent head coach at the junior college ranks where he won one national championship.

James Jones - Yale


Courtesy of New Haven Register

Jones has been one of the most consistent forces in the Ivy League history. As the longest tenured coach in the league, Jones entered the 2020-21 season with 333 career victories, which is the second most in league history, and his 180 Ivy wins are the third most in league history. He has guided the Bulldogs to five Ivy League regular season championships, three NCAA Tournament appearances, and six postseason appearances. The Bulldogs have won at least 10 Ivy games six times during Jones’ tenure and have had a fourth-place or better finish in the Ivy League for a remarkable 20 straight years. Four Ivy League Player of the Years have helped Jones in his efforts along with two Ivy League Defensive Players of the Year and one Ivy League Rookie of the Year. Miye Oni, the 2019 Ivy League Player of the Year, became the first Ivy Leaguer selected in the NBA Draft since Penn’s Jerome Allen in 1995. He and his players have received many different accolades for taking part in Yale’s success and contributing to Jones’ 180-114 (.612) overall record in Ivy League play.

Robert Jones - Norfolk State


Courtesy of The Virginian Pilot

Consistency has been one great way to sum up the job that Robert Jones has done at Norfolk State over the last seven seasons. The Spartans have an 84-28 (.750) MEAC record during that time and have yet to finish below fourth in the league standings. Five of those seven seasons have resulted in postseason appearances. Additionally, Jones was able to lead Norfolk State to just their second-ever MEAC regular season championship and the second-most wins in the program’s Division I history in 2018-19. The Spartans capped it off by defeating No. 1 seed Alabama in the NIT first round, regarded as perhaps the biggest upset by point spread in NIT history. From that team, the Spartans had a program record five players earn All-MEAC honors. NSU had a first-team player nine times out of 10 years from 2008-17, and at least one all-conference honoree from 2004-17. Fourteen players have gone on to play professionally including Philadelphia 76ers forward Kyle O’Quinn. His success on the court and on the recruiting trail make him an attractive candidate at the next level.

Will Jones - North Carolina A&T


Courtesy of Winston Salem Journal

The reigning MEAC Coach of the Year has played a huge role in turning the Aggie program upside down since a 3-29 overall record and a 1-15 conference record in 2016-17. The Aggies have since posted seasons of 20 wins, 19 wins, and 17 wins. The 17-game turnaround is one of the best in NCAA Division I history and Jones has managed to guide the Aggies to the top of the conference standings with two straight 2nd place finishes. Players like Ronald Jackson and Kameron Langley haved earned first team All-MEAC honors under Jones' watch. It also marked the first time in 32 seasons the Aggies had more than one player on the MEAC's first team. Langley would go on to lead the nation in assists, assists per game and triple doubles while breaking the school and conference records for assists. Jones has had stops at Florida A&M, Jacksonville, Georgia Southern, Northwest Florida State, South Carolina State, among others on his rise to the head coaching ranks.

Kyle Keller - Stephen F. Austin


Courtesy of ESPN

Keller has made quite a bit of noise during his time at Stephen F. Austin. Keller, a former assistant coach at Texas A&M, Kansas, and Oklahoma State, has  compiled an 88-41 (.682) overall record in Nacogdoches, TX that has included two 28-win seasons, a record 19 wins during conference play, one regular season conference title, one conference tournament championship, and a huge win over Duke at Cameron Indoor. 10 All-Conference Selections during Keller’s tenure that he has developed and recruited have helped him accomplish these feats. He is no stranger to being a recruiter, developer, and having an eye for talent though. At Oklahoma State under Eddie Sutton, Keller was instrumental in the development of 11 all-conference performers, including All-Americans Tony Allen, John Lucas and Joey Graham. Keller has also coached numerous NBA players including the aforementioned All-Americans as well as Maurice Baker, Stephen Graham, Desmond Mason, Ivan McFarlin, Melvin Sanders at Oklahoma State and P.J. Brown and Kaniel Dickens during other coaching stints. Additionally, OSU's 2006 recruiting class was ranked No. 1 by Rivals.com. He was able to do the same under Bill Self at Kansas and was able to sign seven ESPN Top 100 players at Texas A&M including one consensus top-10 class.

Matt Langel - Colgate


Courtesy of Mitchell Layton

Langel has steadily put Colgate in position to be a consistent power in the Patriot League. The former assistant coach for Fran Dunphy at Temple has won Patriot League Coach of the Year the last three seasons after inheriting a team that went just 7-23 ten years ago. After an initial few rebuilding years that put them towards the bottom of the pack in the conference, Langel has elevated the program to an average finish of 2.5 in the league standings over the past six years. Along the way, the Raiders have set a program record for wins during a season, league wins, and home wins. The success has resulted in the program being able to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 23 years and back-to-back regular season league titles. Under the guidance of Langel, the Raiders in 2018-19 landed their first Patriot League Player of the Year since 1997 and second Rookie of the Year in three seasons to highlight the team’s four All-League selections. Langel was able to win league titles as an assistant coach at Temple and Penn as well.

Shantay Legans - Eastern Washington


Courtesy of Rich Barnes

Legans is now 59-41 in his three years as head coach for a .590 winning percentage. In league games, he has won 71 percent of his games for a record of 41-17. Both percentages are currently the best among the eight men who have been head coaches in EWU’s tenure in the league, and his 41 league wins is the best three-year stretch in school history. The Eagles had their-second highest win total in 37 years as a NCAA Division I member with 23 victories in 2020, and their 16 league triumphs were the most in their 33 years in the Big Sky before the COVID-19 virus cut the season short. Legans has been instrumental in both recruiting and developing ten All-Big Sky level players during his time in Cheney, WA. Prior to his arrival, Legans was a high school coach in California that also spent time with various AAU programs in the area. He played his college ball at Cal Berkeley and Fresno State.

Mike Martin - Brown


Courtesy of Brown Athletics

Martin has overseen Brown's rise after ages of falling behind the eight ball. Brown has won more 15 or more games eight times in the past 75 years (1945-2020) and two of them have come in the past two years under Martin after his initial years of setting up building blocks to build a championship program. It marks not only the best two year stretch in program history, but the 20-win season in 2018-19 also marks the best season in program history. In that season, the Ivy League recognized Martin as the Ivy League Coach of the Year, Brown advanced to their second postseason under Martin, and won their first-ever postseason game. Martin's first recruiting class has proved to be part of the backbone for this rise in Brown basketball history. Three different freshmen were named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week a school record 10 times - forward Leland King '17 (four times), forward Steven Spieth '17 (three times) and guard Norman Hobbie '17 (three times). Additionally, Cedric Kuakumensah, Brown's first-ever Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year, has played a big role of late too.

Grant McCasland - North Texas


Courtesy of Arkansas Democrat Gazette

McCasland has proven to be somewhat of a quick rebuilder in his time as a head coach at both Arkansas State and Texas State. Prior to his 20-win first year at Arkansas State, the program turned in just a 10-win season. The 10 game turnaround was the second-biggest in the NCAA during the 2016-2017 season and just the 4th 20-win season in school history. Since then, he has led North Texas to three straight 20-win seasons, the 2020 C-USA regular season championship and the 2018 College Basketball Invitational championship. In 2020, UNT won the league regular season crown with a 14-4 conference record. The 14 league wins are the most in program history. Prior to 2020, UNT hadn't won 10 or more conference games in a single season since 2010. McCasland has built North Texas through recruiting. In 2020, North Texas' recruiting class was tabbed by Rivals as the best in C-USA, fourth best in the state of Texas and the 48th best in the nation. Under McCasland's guidance, North Texas has earned six all-conference honors and three NABC all-district honors. Javion Hamlet became the first UNT player in 31 years to earn a league player of the year honor. McCasland currently sits at 81-53 (.604) in an early four rebuilding seasons as a head coach at the division one level and a 280-97 (.743) if you take into account his time as a head coach at the NCAA Division II and JUCO levels.

Matt McMahon - Murray State


Courtesy of Maddie Meyer

Murray State has been one of the hottest schools of late due to the rise of Ja Morant and the things as a program that they’ve been able to accomplish of late. McMahon has been the man in charge during this stretch and is in turn a huge culprit of what has happened in Murray, KY. In five seasons at the helm, McMahon has turned in a 110-51 (.683) overall record with two NCAA Tournaments and four Ohio Valley regular season titles. Furthermore, in the past three seasons, they have gone an astounding 77-20 (.794) and 47-7 (.870). Seven first team all-conference selections including All-America selection Ja Morant and Associated Press All-America Honorable Mention Jonathan Stark have helped the Racers during the three year span. McMahon has also spent time as an assistant coach at Murray State under Steve Prohm, Appalachian State, and UNC Wilmington.

Niko Medved - Colorado State


Courtesy of The Denver Post

The only thing Niko Medved has done during his head coaching career is elevate the level of the programs he has been with. In four seasons with Furman, he took a team that won just seven games in the year prior to his arrival to a team that won a program record 23 games and the SOCON regular season title in year four. For context, Furman had just nine 20-win seasons in their near 100-year history prior and it was their first conference regular season title in nearly 30 years. It earned Medved a job at Drake University where he was able to propel a team that went 7-17 in the year prior to his arrival to 17-17 in his first season at the helm. To continue to add to his rebuild resume, Medved has taken a Colorado State team that won 11 games in the year prior to his arrival to 20 games in just his second season. As a Colorado State assistant coach for six years beginning in 2007 when former head coach Tim Miles took the reins of the Rams’ program, Medved was instrumental in the rebuild of the program that saw it improve from seven wins in 2007-08 to five consecutive postseason berths, including NCAA tournament appearances in his final two seasons.

Wes Miller - UNC Greensboro


Courtesy of The Carolinian

Wes Miller has taken a program that won just 20 total games in three seasons prior to becoming head coach into a SOCON contender. After winning a division championship in his first season at the helm, Miller has been able to turn the tide and has recently collected four straight 20-win seasons with two regular season conference championships, two trips to the NIT, and one trip to the NCAA Tournament. Records and program firsts have been collected along the way as well. Most notably, Miller has been able to orchestrate the highest win total during a season in program history twice (29) and the first-ever postseason win. Previously UNCG hadn’t had much of a postseason history at all. In fact, the program had only been to the postseason three times and has since been to four under Miller. Prior to his time in Greensboro, NC, Miller served as an assistant at UNCG, High Point, and Elon. Each stop was for one season.

Porter Moser - Loyola Chicago


Courtesy of USA Today

Moser and his miraculous Final Four run deserve a spot on this list. The season resulted in a school record for wins and Loyola became one of four No. 11 seeds ever to advance to the national semifinals. Moser’s list of accomplishments in nine seasons at Loyola is impressive and doesn’t stop there though. His keen recruiting eye and proven experience in developing men both on and off the court has resulted in three postseason berths,, 12 all-conference selections, two MVC Player of the Year honorees, two Associated Press Honorable Mention All-Americans, two Academic All-Americans, a MVC Defensive Player of the Year, two MVC Sixth Man of the Year honorees and a pair of MVC Freshman of the Year selections, just to scratch the surface. Loyola’s 73 wins over the last three seasons are its most over a three-year period since 1961-62 through 1963-64. Additionally, Loyola’s four straight winning campaigns are the first since 1946-1949. Moser is a veteran coach of 30 seasons. He has served as an assistant coach under Sidney Moncrief, Wimp Sanderson, Tony Barone, and Rick Majerus. He also was the head coach of Arkansas Little Rock and Illinois State before his arrival at Loyola Chicago.

LeVelle Moton - North Carolina Central

In a league with little resources compared to other leagues around the country, Moton has been dominant and found a way to be consistent. For the past eleven seasons, Moton has taken a team that won just seven games in his first season to a team that has gone to the NCAA Tournament in four of the last six seasons with one NIT appearance in a year that they missed. In addition, Moton has won the MEAC regular season title in four of the nine seasons the program has been a part of the league. The feats are good for a 108-36 (.750) league record. Perhaps the 2013-14 season was the most successful for Moton. His eagles tied a school record in wins (28), won the most games in a season for any squad in MEAC history, and was the lowest seed for any league champion in the NCAA Tournament as his team earned a 14-seed.  Moton’s squad finished 15-1 in conference play earning the school’s first Division I regular season title and won 20 straight contests, which set a new NCAA Division I level record for the program. His incredible run in the MEAC are results that deserve a shot at the next level.

Ryan Odom - UMBC


Courtesy of NCAA

Odom, who is well known for orchestrating one of the most massive upsets in NCAA history, has definitely put his stamp on the UMBC program as a whole. In just his second year at the helm, UMBC won an America East Conference title at prohibitive favorite Vermont and followed it up by engineering the first-ever victory for a No. 16 seed over a No. 1 seed when the Retrievers beat top overall seed Virginia 74-54. The Retrievers won a school-record 25 games (25-11) and Odom earned the 2018 Hugh Durham Award as the nation’s top mid-major coach. The moment would also earn the team an ESPY nomination for the “Best Moment” of the year. The success came a year after Odom won the Joe B. Hall Award for the best first-year coach after he led the program from a 7-25 record in the year prior to his arrival to a 21-13 record in his first season. UMBC finished the year as the nation’s third-most improved team behind only Minnesota and UCLA. In addition, the Retrievers would follow up the historic 2017-2018 season with the win over Virginia with yet another trip to the America East title game despite key losses from the previous team and a number of injuries. The 2018-19 Retrievers set a program record by winning 20 or more games in three consecutive seasons. Odom has led the Retrievers to three of the top four win-producing teams in school history and has compiled a 83-54 (.606) overall record at the school.

Joe Pasternack - UC Santa Barbara


Courtesy of Noozhawk

Pasternack has quickly turned things around at UCSB in an aggressive way. Pasternack inherited a team that won six games in the year prior to his arrival and elevated them to a school record tying 23 wins in his first season. UCSB also became just the third Big West school to go from single-digit wins one season to 20 or more the next. Pasternack’s first season isn’t just the only thing that is impressive though. UCSB’s three consecutive 20+ win seasons equals the longest stretch in school history, the only other time it was achieved was from 1987-90. The former Arizona assistant coach has gotten it done on the recruiting trail by bringing in transfers from Oregon, Oregon State, Temple, DePaul, Nevada, Pacific, a four star freshman, among others. It’s much of the same success that Pasternack had at Arizona where he played a large part in bringing in six consecutive top-10 recruiting classes, including four top-five groups during that stretch. Pasternack got his start as a manager for Bob Knight at Indiana.

Bob Richey - Furman


Courtesy of Furman

Richey has led the Paladins to an impressive 73-26 (.737) overall record and a  41-13 (.759) conference record in his three seasons as a head coach at Furman. The .737 win percentage currently ranks ninth among active division one coaches and he has helped the program claim four straight 20-win seasons for the first time in school history. In addition, he has helped the program post a school record for victories in back-to-back seasons and earn a national ranking for the first time in program history. Richey’s success in the recruiting landscape has helped Furman’s climb. Richey’s recruits have garnered all-conference honors in 10 consecutive seasons, including two that won SOCON Player of the Year honors. Richey had similar success at Charleston Southern as an assistant coach where he recruited five of the top 11 scorers in Charleston Southern history.

Richie Riley - South Alabama


Courtesy of Nicholls State

It hasn’t taken long for Riley to turn around two different programs and elevate himself into the conversation of the country’s next-in-line coaches for the higher levels. In 2017-18, Riley took a Nicholls State team from an 8th place finish in the conference standings to a 1st place finish. It was the first regular season conference championship since 1998. He has done much of the same at South Alabama taking his Jaguars from an 8th place finish in the Sun Belt to a 2nd place finish in 2019-20. Riley has collected talent at a high rate. A recruiting strategy based heavily on the transfer market brought in highly-regarded players from California, Florida and South Carolina, and all-conference honorees from American, High Point and Howard. Riley has also served as an assistant coach at Clemson, UAB, Eastern Kentucky, and Coastal Carolina. Riley helped recruit and/or coached championship groups at three of those four stops as an assistant.

Mark Schmidt - St. Bonaventure

When looking around the country at the different situations that coaches have to make the best of and win with, you can't argue that Mark Schmidt has put himself in that conversation and done an incredible job of doing more with less over the years in Olean, New York. St. Bonaventure consistently finishes with nearly twenty wins a season, finishing towards the top of the Atlantic 10 conference, and has a more than respectable number of NCAA Tournaments. Over the last ten seasons with the program and after initial rebuilding seasons, the Bonnies have posted five seasons winning at least nineteen games, have had two NCAA Tournament berths, and have had one NIT appearance. Since 2015, the Bonnies have captured 85 wins - the second most among all Atlantic 10 members. The Bonnies had just five 19+ win seasons prior to Schmidt's arrival dating back to the 1970-71 season with two NCAA Tournaments. Schmidt has been able to accomplish that in the said ten year stretch with the help of players like Andrew Nicholson (Atlantic 10 POY/NBA), Jaylen Adams (Atlantic 10 POY/NBA), Matt Mobley (Atlantic 10 First Team), and Courtney Stockard (Atlantic 10 First Team).

Craig Smith - Utah State


Courtesy of Cache Valley Daily

Smith has taken the Mountain West Conference by storm in just two seasons at the helm at Utah State. After Utah State turned in a .500 season in the year prior to his arrival, Smith has been able to win one Mountain West regular season title, two Mountain West tournament titles, and go 54-15 (.783). His 28 win total in his first year was the most wins ever by a first-year head coach and the third-most wins overall in school history. USU advanced the NCAA Tournament, earning a No. 8 seed, the highest in program history, and logged school records of 2,753 points and 147 blocks. His development of Sam Merrill into a NBA Draft selection, his recruitment and development of Neemias Queta into a likely NBA Draft selection, and his development of Justin Bean into an All-Mountain West player after starting as a walk-on have also been particularly impressive. Smith’s success followed him to Utah State from South Dakota where he took a 12-win team to a 26-win team in four years and won a Summit League regular season crown. Smith also had much success under Tim Miles as an assistant at Colorado State and Nebraska and also turned in a NAIA Div. 2 National Runner-Up finish as a head coach at Mayville State.

Damon Stoudamire - Pacific


Courtesy of USA Today

Pacific has reaped the benefits of having Damon Stoudamire, a former NBA stand out as a player, on the sidelines. Stoudamire has brought the program from one of their lowest win totals in program history (8 games prior to his arrival) to one of their highest win totals in program history (23 games in 2019-20) in the span of four seasons at one of the toughest jobs not only in the WCC, but in the country. The 23 games won in 2019-20 is tied for fourth best in program history and featured wins over conference foes like St. Mary’s. Stoudamire was also honored as the Ben Jobe National Coach of the Year in 2019-20, given annually to the top minority coach at the Division I level. Stoudamire has done so through careful evaluation, recruiting, and development. Players like Miles Reynolds, Nigel Shadd, Marial Mading, Justin Moore, Jordan Bell, and Namdi Okonkwo have all been transfers from high quality conferences that have helped the Tigers’ cause. Key JUCO additions like Roberto Gallinat and Jahlil Tripp have done so as well. Prior to his time with Pacific, Stoudamire served on staff as an assistant at Arizona, Memphis, and in the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies. In five seasons collectively on the sideline for Memphis and Arizona, he was a part of two Elite Eights and one Sweet Sixteen.

Andy Toole - Robert Morris


Courtesy of Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Toole has not only overseen the most successful stretch in school history during his 13-year tenure at RMU, but has also made Robert Morris of the most consistent programs during NEC competition. Toole has put together a 115-63 (.646) conference record in ten seasons and has averaged a third place finish during that time. The Colonials have claimed two NEC regular-season championships, appeared in five NEC Tournament championship games, and have made six national postseason appearances that include two NCAA Tournaments and two NITs. In addition, six of RMU’s seven victories in a national postseason tournament have come under the watchful eye of Toole. This ten year stretch comes on the heels of a three year stretch as an assistant at RMU where Toole was able to aid in another two NEC regular season titles in 2008 and 2009 under head coach Mike Rice. Toole was able to help do much of the same in his first stop as an assistant coach at Lafayette where the Leopards reached the NCAA Tournament in Toole's lone season. RMU have entered the Horizon League for 2019-20 and we expect Toole to continue his success.

Russell Turner - UC Irvine

UC Irvine has become the most consistent program in the Big West in the last decade with Russell Turner at the helm. The Anteaters have won an astounding five regular season league championships in the last seven years. Those same seven years include two NCAA Tournament appearances and two NIT appearances as well. Altogether, Turner’s ten seasons in Irvine, CA have totaled a 209-139 (.601) overall record with a 111-51 (.685) conference record. Furthermore, he has helped UC Irvine record its single season record for wins (31), longest winning streak (17), and tied a program best 15-1 mark in Big West play. The success has earned him Coach of the Year awards in four of the ten seasons he has been in charge. Prior to UC Irvine, Turner spent time as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors, Stanford, and Wake Forest. It’s one of the greatest times in program history for both Stanford and Wake Forest. The Cardinal had a combined overall record of 105-24 (.814), including 59-13 (.819) in Pac-10 play. Stanford won Pac-10 regular-season titles in 2001 and 2004. The list of players he worked with at Stanford includes All-Americans Josh Childress, Casey Jacobsen, Jarron Collins and Jason Collins. The Demon Deacons won 161 games in those six seasons, advancing to the NCAA tournament three times, including the Midwest Regional final in 1996. Tim Duncan was a three-time All-American during Turner's tenure at Wake Forest.

Darrell Walker - Arkansas Little Rock


Courtesy of Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Walker is new to the college game and should rise quickly not just because of his vast resume as a coach, but also because of the success he’s been able to have early. Walker, a former head coach of the Toronto Raptors and the Washington Wizards and a former NBA player in his own right, has helped Arkansas State elevate back to championship level that Chris Beard was able to accomplish recently with the trojans. After winning just seven games in the year prior to his arrival and ten games in his first season at the helm, Walker was able to lead the Trojans to a 1st place finish in the Sun Belt last season. The former Arkansas Razorback standout and NBA Draft first round pick spent two seasons as the head coach at Clark Atlanta University where he compiled an overall record of 45-18 (.714) overall record and led them to back-to-back NCAA Division II tournament appearances. He boasts the distinction of being the only active coach with head coaching experience at the NBA, WNBA, Division II and Division I levels. He also has served as an assistant coach in the NBA for the Toronto Raptors (1995-96), New Orleans Hornets (2004-08), Detroit Pistons (2008-11) and New York Knicks (2012-14).

Scott Nagy - Wright State


Courtesy of Wright State News Room.

Nagy is 501-283 (.639) in 26 years as a head coach and 91-43 (.679) in five years as a head coach at Wright State. This includes an impressive 53-19 (.736) overall record in the Horizon League. The Raiders have turned in four straight 20-win seasons, two regular season titles, and a conference tournament championship. Previously, the school hadn’t had a 20-win season since 2008 and hadn’t had a regular season title or NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007. Six All-Conference level players during Nagy’s tenure have helped bolster the success, including Horizon League POY Loudon Love. Before coming to Wright State, Nagy was the lead man at South Dakota State where oversaw a transition from NCAA Division II to Division I in his 21-year head coaching career at the school. The jackrabbits went to the NCAA Division II tournament eight times in nine seasons that included one Elite Eight appearance and won four league titles. During SDSU’s 12 seasons at the division one level with Nagy in charge, SDSU won three regular season league titles and three conference tournament titles to advance to the NCAA Tournament.

Brian Wardle - Bradley

Since being hired as the youngest head coach in the country at Wisconsin Green Bay at the age of 31, Brian Wardle has been consistent and has turned around two programs in his 10-year head coaching career. His first two recruiting classes at both schools came out on top as either conference regular season or tournament champions. Bradley led all teams in the Valley with three all-conference honorees in 2020, while the Braves have had multiple players earn the accolade in three-straight seasons – the program’s longest run in 12 years. Additionally, Bradley has featured five All-Freshman Team honorees, three Most Improved Team accolades and one All-Defensive Team recipient in Wardle’s five seasons on campus. Wardle's keen recruiting eye doesn't stop there though. His time at Green Bay resulted in several players of note including Alec Brown, the 50th overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns and Keifer Sykes, a two-time Horizon League Player of the Year. Sykes finished as the program's No. 2 all-time leading scorer and Alec Brown finished No. 5. His Green Bay program went from a team with 14 wins in his first season to back-to-back 24-win seasons in his final two years with one league title. Additionally, his Bradley program went from a team with 5 wins three straight 20-win seasons with back-to-back NCAA Tournament trips.


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