Candid Coaches: Who was the best hire of the college basketball coaching carousel in 2022?

Candid Coaches: Who was the best hire of the college basketball coaching carousel in 2022?

CBS Sports college basketball writers Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander surveyed roughly 100 coaches for our annual Candid Coaches series. They polled everyone from head coaches at elite programs to assistants at some of the smallest Division I schools. In exchange for complete anonymity, the coaches provided unfiltered honesty about a number of topics. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting the results of the questions asked.

Some of the biggest jobs in college basketball were officially filled after last season — among them Duke, Maryland, Louisville and Florida, each of which has won a national championship in the past two decades.

There were lots of interesting hires. But which school made the best hire?

We asked roughly 100 college coaches that exact question. What they told us is reflected below.

Who was the best head-coaching hire in 2022?

1. Shaheen Holloway, Seton Hall 15%
2. Sean Miller, Xavier 13%
3. Kevin Willard, Maryland 12%
4. Jon Scheyer, Duke 10%
T-5 Thad Matta, Butler 9%
T-5. Jerome Tang, Kansas State 9%
7. Frank Martin, UMass 7%
8. Kenny Payne, Louisville 4%
T-9. Dennis Gates, Mo. 3%
T-9. Chris Jans, Mississippi State 3%
T-9. Mike White, Georgia 3%
T-12. Fran Dunphy, La Salle 2%
T-12. Todd Golden, Florida 2%
T-12. Archie Miller, Rhode Island 2%

Others receiving votes: Dan Earl, Chattanooga; Chris Gerlufsen, San Francisco; Jonas Hayes, Georgia State; Rob Lanier, EMS; Bart Lundy, Milwaukee

Quotes that stood out

On Shaheen Holloway

  • “I’m always for a program hiring an alum — especially someone with proven success. He loves that place, that community loves him. He has the charisma for the position. Outstanding hire.
  • “Heading back to his alma mater, where he is beloved and knows the lay of the land, especially recruiting wise. Résumé was built on doing more with less — and (he) accomplished at Saint Peter’s what will never be done again. Also a really good human being.”

On Sean Miller

  • “I’m a good friend of Travis Steele’s, and I hate how that happened, but Sean is tailor-made for Xavier, Cincinnati, the state of Ohio. Tough guy, knows the landscape, really good coach. Beloved by the fans and community. Sometimes all players, schools, fans need is a notion of confidence when they walk into the arena. He brings that out in people.”
  • “Fearless, left for dead and one of the best coaches in the game. Understands modern-day CEO/coach/talent acquisition as well as anyone did before — and now he has even more room to expand his relationships and resources.”

On Kevin Willard

  • “What he did at Seton Hall — with the lack of facilities in the backdrop of the old-guard schools in the Big East — is unbelievable. Now he has all the whistles and bells, and he’s a tremendous recruiter. Now he has a tremendous recruiting area, and a place which is a big name. I think in three years Maryland will win the Big Ten.”
  • “Kevin has proven he’s a great more-with-less coach who makes no excuses. He finds overlooked talent and makes them better as well as anyone in the country. With an impressive campus, great location and football money — and the way he develops his players — look out.”

On Jon Scheyer

  • “He’s already locked-up back-to-back No. 1 recruiting classes. Anyone who can do that, even at a place like Duke, is a great hire. He’s set himself up to win big quickly.”
  • “He should be set up to continue the success at Duke. He’s coming in at the right point, where Duke hasn’t been winning national titles year in and year out, so the expectations aren’t anything too over the top.”

The takeaway

The fact that we got 20 different answers to this question is wild and evidence that there is no obvious perceived correct response — unlike last year when Texas’ Chris Beard got 61% of the vote.

(Worth noting: last year, Tommy Lloyd, who led Arizona to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and Hubert Davis, who took UNC to the NCAA Tournament title game, both got less than 3% of the vote. So things don’t always unfold the way the coaches — or any of us — often believe they’ll unfold. But I digress.)

If you would’ve asked me to predict the winner of this poll before we actually conducted it, I would’ve probably told you Duke’s Jon Scheyer because he’s already out-recruited the rest of the country two years in a row. Or perhaps I would’ve gone with Xavier’s Sean Miller or Butler’s Thad Matta because they both have established and proven track records of winning at the high-major level.

That said, Shaheen Holloway is a totally reasonable leading-vote getter.

It’s not just that he took Saint Peter’s — THE PEACOCKS! — to the Elite Eight of the 2022 NCAA Tournament after finishing in the top three of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in each of the past three seasons that makes Holloway a perceived great hire. It’s also the way he seemed to develop a strong culture within the program, one where the players appeared to love and respect him so much that they literally attended his introductory press conference at Seton Hall.

That said something to me.

It’s impossible to definitively know how any hire will unfold — evidence being that Nebraska’s Fred Hoiberg got more votes than UCLA’s Mick Cronin and Arkansas’ Eric Musselman in this poll three years ago but is still looking for his first 11-win season with the Huskers while Cronin has been to the Final Four and Musselman has made back-to-back Elite Eights. But, for whatever it’s worth, you can also count me as a believer in Holloway. He’s already done (way) more with less at Saint Peter’s and flourished on the sport’s biggest stage. I suspect he’ll next do big things at Seton Hall, and, based on the results of this poll, a good bit of his colleagues agree.

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