Furthermore, we'll get to see Rick Pitino back in the national spotlight in his Big East return to coach St. John's at age 70. The Pitino sweepstakes proved to be one of the most intriguing storylines of this year's coaching carousel, but drama unfolded elsewhere.
Texas strung Rodney Terry along for a while before finally offering him the full-time gig. Ed Cooley made a stunning intra-conference leap by leaving his hometown school of Providence for Georgetown.
Then, of course, there was the Chris Beard question. After his Texas tenure came to an abrupt end amid a domestic violence allegation that was eventually dismissed, speculation swirled around when and where he might resurface. It didn't take long to get answers; he landed at Ole Miss to replace Kermit Davis.
With the dust settled on the cycle, here are the grades for each hire from the power conference ranks.
|Rick Pitino||A||St. John's just hired a two-time national champion who has been to seven Final Fours and taken five teams to the Big Dance. Considering the program hasn't been to the Sweet 16 since 1999, that's remarkable. Pitino is 70, but it's a safe bet that he will jumpstart the Red Storm. |
|Micah Shrewsberry||A||Shrewbserry had the imagination to contrive an NCAA Tournament team in Year 2 at Penn State with a small and uniquely constructed roster. The Indiana native is a disciple of Brad Stevens and Matt Painter and looks like a perfect fit back in his home state after executing a quick turnaround with the Nittany Lions.|
|Mike Rhoades||A||Rhoades racked up a 129-61 record with three NCAA Tournament appearances in six seasons at VCU. Nothing comes easy at a place like Penn State, but Rhoades led Rice to its only winning record in 18 seasons as a member of Conference USA, so he's no stranger to succeeding against the odds. This is a tremendous hire for the Nittany Lions |
|Grant McCasland||A||McCasland comes from the Scott Drew coaching tree at Baylor , which has produced the likes of Jerome Tang ( Kansas State ) and Paul Mills ( Wichita State ). He was superb at North Texas and already knows his way around Lubbock, Texas, after beginning his career there as TTU's director of operations. The Big 12 is cutthroat, but McCasland's resume suggests he's ready for the challenge. |
|Chris Beard||A-||Ole Miss is taking a gamble here in exchange for one of the game's most consistent winners. If Beard sniffs any trouble, the administration will look foolish for taking a chance on him. On the other hand, the on-court payoff could be magnificent for a program that last advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2001. |
|Ed Cooley||A-||Ed Cooley won 54.6% of his Big East contests at Providence and has only advanced past the first weekend of the Big Dance once. In other words, Cooley is good, but not good enough to warrant an A or A+. Proclamations of Georgetown's imminent return to national prominence under his direction seem a bit presumptuous.|
|Mark Madsen||A-||Considering Cal is coming off a 3-29 season -- its sixth straight losing campaign -- it's unlikely the Bears could have done much better. Madsen picked up where Mark Pope left off at Utah Valley and led the Wolverines to a 28-9 record and an NIT semifinal appearance last year. He's already putting in good work with the Bears' roster just a few weeks into the job. |
|Kim English||B+||This is a high-risk, high-reward move by the Friars. English, 34, is still unproven after two seasons at George Mason, and he's never worked in the Big East before. However, the potential payoff could be spectacular with the former Missouri guard, who earned rising-star status while working for coaches like Frank Haith ( Tulsa ), Tad Boyle ( Colorado ) and Rick Barnes ( Tennessee ). |
|Rodney Terry||B||Terry deserved a chance at the full-time job after taking over for Chris Beard midseason. He guided Texas to a Big 12 Tournament title and the Elite Eight, but he wouldn't have been the Longhorns' first pick under normal circumstances. Terry posted a 163-156 record across seven seasons at Fresno State and three at UTEP . That's a respectable record at two difficult jobs but not the type of résumé that typically gets coaches into the mix for gigs like this. |
|Adrian Autry||C+||Autry played under Jim Boeheim in the early 1990s and coached under him for 12 seasons. But is continuity here a good thing? The Boeheim era ran its course. Now it's up to a first-time coach to put a fresh spin on it. Landing JJ Starling from Notre Dame and Chance Westry from Auburn on the transfer market is an encouraging start. |
|Damon Stoudamire||C+||The award for most outside-the-box hire of the 2023 cycle goes to Georgia Tech, which snagged Stoudamire from the Boston Celtics' staff. Stoudamire paid his dues as an assistant at Memphis and Arizona, and he spent five seasons as Pacific's coach. Still, this feels like a shot in the dark on a candidate who still boasts a much better resume as a player than a coach.|