Here are 10 names for the new opening at Michigan, which happened when John Beilein surprised the coaching world by leaving for an NBA job with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
These are names that could be considered realistic, assuming coaches like Jay Wright, Brad Stevens and Tony Bennett won’t leave their current jobs. (Alabama’s Nate Oats, a Michigan native, has already said publicly that he won’t be a candidate.)
This is a list that doesn’t include Rick Pitino or Greg McDermott because of their ties to the recent college basketball scandal.
1. Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City Thunder
He has won 60 percent of his games over four years in the NBA and established himself as a solid coach at that level. He was worn down by the cheating and chicanery at the end of his college basketball tenure at Florida. Would a job in the moderately more refined Big Ten be appealing?
2. Chris Beard, Texas Tech
He’s the prized college coach not at a blue-blood program, as he has quickly established himself as an elite recruiter, evaluator and X’s-and-O’s coach. Beard percolates with more possibility than any coach this generation. But would he leave Tech weeks after signing a monster $27 million contract? The hunch here is no.
3. Mike White, Florida
He fits the squeaky clean image that Michigan craves and is low maintenance and high production. White has reached three consecutive NCAA tournaments at Florida and has recently shown a knack for national recruiting. He’d be a safe hire and escape the insanity of the SEC for a recruiting environment that doesn’t include “strong-ass” offers.
4. Bobby Hurley, Arizona State
He has reached three NCAA tournaments in six years as a head coach, including back-to-back appearances at Arizona State. Hurley has shown the tactical acumen to be a high-end college basketball coach for a long time. His name brings brand power that most on this list don’t have.
5. Juwan Howard, Miami Heat assistant
His hiring would rekindle the past, as he was part of the Fab Five. But more importantly, he has emerged as an NBA head-coach candidate in recent years and is considered a top-flight assistant. He has also been around the grassroots scene with his sons Jace and Jett, the later of whom is considered an elite prospect in the class of 2022.
6. Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette
He’s reached two NCAA tournaments in five years at Marquette, which for that job could be considered underachieving. He hasn’t won a game in either tournament. He’d be solid, safe and unsurprising. He’d also be dealing with the bad optics of fleeing after recently signing a new contract.
7. Bob McKillop, Davidson
If you want another John Beilein type, he’s the guy in terms of pedigree (nine NCAA tournaments), skill development and scheme. He’d be a wonderful fit. But he’s 68, which could end the conversation. He’s also shown unmatched devotion to Davidson.
8. Kevin Keatts, N.C. State
In five seasons as a head coach, he’s reached three NCAA tournaments and developed a definitive run-and-gun style. If Michigan wanted to go up-tempo, it could bring in Keatts to juice up the next generation of Wolverine basketball. He’s a proven winner, recruiter and tactical coach.
9. Johnny Dawkins, UCF
With the Duke pedigree and recent success at UCF, he’s an obvious name to emerge. But the hard thing for Michigan administrators to bend their minds around would be the one NCAA appearance in eight seasons at Stanford.
10. Shaka Smart, Texas
At this point, Smart’s tenure at Texas has been pedestrian. He’s from the Midwest and would be a strong cultural fit at Michigan. Would Texas let him walk without paying the buyout?
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