Which coaches are on the rise in college basketball? Check out our list below as we look at 10 coaches in the sport trending upwards. In no particular order…
Rick Stansbury, Western Kentucky: The former head man at Mississippi State has a chance to turn Conference USA into a multi-bid league and he’s yet to coach a game with the Hilltoppers. An elite recruiter, Stansbury has already landed one top-10 prospect in 2017 class in big man Mitchell Robinson while also inking former Syracuse signee Moustapha Diagne and top-50 wing Josh Anderson. Western Kentucky is now a program in bold print within college basketball circles and that’s all because of one single hire. It’s only a matter of time before Stansbury has a high-major roster in Bowling Green.
King Rice, Monmouth: The Hawks were a national story last season and return nearly everybody from a team that won 28 games and nearly reached the NCAA Tournament. Monmouth endured some growing pains when it transitioned to the MAAC from the NEC, but Rice’s toughness, confidence, and fiery demeanor have now made this Jersey Shore school synonymous with the elite mid-major programs in the sport.
Eric Musselman, Nevada: The former NBA head coach did yeoman’s work last season, leading the Wolf Pack to 24 wins along with a CBI championship. Musselman has the pedigree, demeanor, and tactical skills to be a high-major head coach, but first he’s got a real chance to challenge San Diego State this season in the Mountain West. Nevada has drastically upgraded its talented base thanks to a slew of transfers and has all of a sudden gone from afterthought to contender. Musselman is in position to have two high-level years in Reno if he’s not plucked for another gig first.
Will Wade, VCU: The 33-year old Wade was set up to fail last season, but ultimately led the Rams to a share of the Atlantic 10 regular season title as well as their first NCAA Tournament victory since 2013. After spurning interest from both Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt last spring, Wade signed an eight-year extension to stay at VCU and keep the Rams in contention for a regular place in the Top 25.
Steve Forbes, East Tennessee State: Forbes won 24 games in his first season as a head coach in Division I and should be a perennial contender in the SoCon. A tenacious recruiter when he was an assistant at both Tennessee and Wichita State, Forbes knows how to find players. The Bucs currently have three players on their roster — Peter Jurkin (Indiana), Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Indiana), and Tevin Glass (Wichita State) that were all recruited to play at a significantly higher level before Forbes lured them to East Tennessee State.
James Jones, Yale: The Bulldogs made history last March by finally reaching the NCAA Tournament and then earned a decisive victory over Baylor in the Round of 64. Jones didn’t make New Haven a respectable basketball town overnight and had to endure 16 years as Yale’s head coach before getting this program over the hump. If a high-major school is looking for someone to build a program the right way, Jones is an easy choice.
Kevin Keatts, UNC Wilmington: A former Rick Pitino assistant, Keatts has a 43-22 overall record in two years as a head coach with a 26-10 mark in conference play. The Seahawks were very competitive against Duke last March in the Round of 64 and should have an excellent chance to regularly represent the CAA in the NCAA Tournament again thanks to Keatts’ aggressive style of play.
Matt McCall, Chattanooga: A disciple of Billy Donovan, McCall won 29 games last season in his first year as a head coach and led the Mocs to the NCAA Tournament where they lost to Indiana in the Round of 64. With five seniors set to return, both Chattanooga and McCall are in prime position to again be on an upward trajectory during the 16-17 season.
Eran Ganot, Hawaii: Stoic on the outside and an assassin on the inside, Ganot led the Rainbow Warriors to 28 wins and a victory over Cal in the NCAA Tournament in just his first season as a head coach. A former assistant at Saint Mary’s under Randy Bennett, Ganot is very similar to his predecessor as he’s the furthest thing from a self promoter. This is a name to watch for West Coast jobs moving forward.
Mitch Henderson, Princeton: Henderson has quietly led his alma mater to three postseason appearances in the last five years and the Tigers should be the team to beat in the Ivy League this season. The 41-year-old head coach returns everyone of significance from last year’s team that won 22 games and reached the NIT while adding big man Hans Brase, who missed last year with a knee injury. All things are definitely on the rise in central New Jersey.
Jon Rothstein has been a college basketball insider for CBS Sports since 2010 and is the lead college basketball columnist for the FanRag Sports Network. He is also the host of the College Hoops Today Podcast via Compass Media Networks, which is available via iTunes. Rothstein is also a regular in-studio correspondent for both WFAN and CBS Sports Radio. He currently lives in Manhattan.