The past month has seen the college basketball landscape shift regarding new coaches taking over new programs. Some teams will be in rebuilding mode next season, while some will look to take a step forward. Here are the top five best coaching hires this offseason:
Mick Cronin, UCLA
UCLA was a mess last season, as head coach Steve Alford was fired in the middle of the year. And the coaching search didn’t go over so smoothly, either, as they whiffed on their first several candidates. Cronin went 296-146 at Cincinnati, including nine consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. He will bring a tough, defensive-minded culture to Los Angeles, and should have very little trouble recruiting.
Eric Musselman, Arkansas
Eric Musselman took a mid-major program in Nevada and turned them into a consistent top-25 team. With the resources and recruiting advantages of playing in the SEC, Musselman appears to be a quality hire for the Razorbacks. He took Nevada to three straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, and went 110-34 overall in four years. Mike Anderson, who was fired by Arkansas once the season concluded, is now St. John’s head coach.
Fred Hoiberg, Nebraska
After a disappointing four-year run for the Chicago Bulls, Fred Hoiberg is back in the college game. He takes over for Tim Miles, who was fired by Nebraska after seven seasons. Hoiberg was one of the most sought-after coaches after he went 115-56 in five seasons at Iowa State. This is a great hire for Nebraska as Hoiberg will have the Cornhuskers competing in the Big Ten sooner rather than later.
Buzz Williams, Texas A&M
Buzz Williams had a tremendous run at Virginia Tech, taking the Hokies to three straight trips to the Big Dance. He also had previous success at Marquette, taking them to the Elite Eight in 2013. The Aggies let go of Billy Kennedy after going 14-18 this past season. Texas A&M got a tremendous coach who fans are going to love in College Station, as Buzz is one of the most well-liked coaches in the game.
John Brannen, Cincinnati
After Mick Cronin bolted to Los Angeles, Cincinnati needed to find a solid replacement. They looked right down the road in Northern Kentucky and hired John Brannen. At just 45 years old, Brannen is a young, well-respected coach and had success in Northern Kentucky. He took the Norse to three consecutive postseason appearances, which says a lot considering they just went Division I in 2015. The Bearcats needed a fresh, new face on the sidelines and we’ll see if Brannen can keep Cincinnati in the upper echelon of the American.