In the next few weeks, there is certain to be a lot of discourse about the future of Georgetown Hoyas basketball and specifically, Patrick Ewing. While all of us undoubtedly support Ewing as a man and respect him as one of our most prominent alumni, we also all wish the best for the basketball program. And, quite matter of factly, a winless BIG EAST season thus far including two losses to annual doormat DePaul has opened the door for discussions about life after Ewing.
Put basically all of the résumés in one place pic.twitter.com/6mGhGt0GA2— Jake Foote (@Footahh) February 22, 2022
That being said, while there is still a chance Patrick Ewing remains on the sidelines for the 2022-23 season, let’s get educated on some prospective and realistic candidates that could lead the program next should the job open in the next few weeks.
If you have paid attention to what some media have said in the past month, specifically Jeff Goodman, there is still major mystique surrounding the Georgetown job. That mystique may be fading, but it also may give Georgetown a huge chance to reach for a big fish and offer a raise or a change in scenery to coaches at established power 5 programs. Here are some established college coaches that might pick up the phone should GU reach out.
STEVE FORBES: I want to start the discussion of established candidates with Steve Forbes. Forbes is new to Power 5 hoops despite being an older candidate, but his last ten years in the sport have been a meteoric rise. 15 years ago he was making inroads as an assistant for Bruce Pearl at Tennessee before recruiting scandals resulted in the departure of the entire staff. He landed at JUCO Northwest Florida St, where he went 62-6 over two seasons, impressing Gregg Marshall enough to join his staff for Wichita State’s fabled 30-1 team that fell to Kentucky in a Round of 32 epic. He was later hired by East Tennessee St and all he has done since is win. He’s currently taking advantage of a weakened ACC to the tune of 21 wins, the most games a Wake Forest team has won since 2009. And to make that note even more impressive, he inherited a dumpster fire just less than two years ago. Wake Forest had won 13, 11, and 11 games in their three seasons prior to Forbes’ arrival. He currently makes a tad over $2 million annually and if Georgetown is in a position in which they’re willing to spend like they historically have on their coaches, he probably could be had.
ED COOLEY: Ed Cooley doesn’t need much introduction as Hoya fans are aware of what he has done at Providence over the past decade. Cooley has Providence peaking this season and is sure to be in the Big East as well as National Coach of the Year discussions. He has a ton of appreciation and respect for the Georgetown brand and the Thompson family and his daughter is currently enrolled at Georgetown. His flex offense would probably have us all go mad in a similar way JT3’s Princeton offense did at the end, but his teams have always been exceptionally tough. At the very least, he’d raise the floor and Georgetown would become a consistently decent program again. The question really is, “Does Cooley want to be considered?” He has it pretty cushy at Providence right now and may not want to be the foreigner tasked with succeeding 50 years of the Thompson legacy.
PORTER MOSER: Moser is probably very unrealistic, as he’d be super expensive and is historically a Midwest guy. For those that don’t know, Moser was hired last year by Oklahoma to the tune of $2.8 million annually after bringing Loyola to the Sweet 16. Their run was a nice encore to their Cinderella Final Four run three years prior. Moser warrants inclusion though because his allegiance to Oklahoma is probably very minimal outside of financial reasons and he is devoutly Catholic. Known for his suffocating, tough, half-court defense and methodical half-court offense that asks a lot of his big men’s ability to pass, his system has shades of JTIII’s. But his version has really adapted to the modern game and modern rules. Georgetown should kick the tires here at the very least.
MIKE BOYNTON: Mike Boynton is expensive and mostly unproven but is one of the big fish that would jump at the opportunity to coach Georgetown. He is African-American, only 40 years old, and is already a proven recruiter. He learned under the tutelage of Brad Underwood, who has become one of the most successful recent hires at Illinois. He checks most boxes of what you’d envision in the next Georgetown coach. The one downside: Despite plentiful resources, he has only reached one NCAA Tournament at Oklahoma State and that was on the back of #1 recruit and #1 draft pick Cade Cunningham. And how did he get Cunningham to come to Stillwater? He hired his brother. That being said, he could get talented kids to come to Georgetown, which is desperately needed from the next coach.
KEVIN KEATTS: Keatts was the talk of the town in 2017 when he was dominating the Colonial with UNC Wilmington as the wheels were falling off for JT3. NC State beat the Hoyas to the punch but Keatts has failed to live up to expectations. He hasn’t been bad, just average, which is underwhelming given how high his stock was five years ago. Injuries have hurt him, especially this year as Manny Bates went down, and he may be on the way out of NC State as a result. Would he be a top choice now? Probably not, but if he is fired, he may be had for cheap and a change of scenery could be great for him.
KYLE SMITH: Smith is in the midst of trying to turn around a Washington State program that was historically bad when he signed on. He has been reasonably successful as they’ve been a tough opponent the last two years. He’s lauded in the coaching community as someone who knows the game as much as anybody.
The Atlantic 10 is always going to be a hotbed for coaches that are ready to make the jump. In the past decade, we’ve seen Danny Hurley, Will Wade, Shaka Smart, and Archie Miller most notably get their shot. If you are young and successful in this conference, the next step is a Power 5 challenge. I am going to touch on numerous coaches in this conference but first, I want to give due to the more established guys. Specifically, Mike Rhoades and Anthony Grant who are currently two of the best coaches in the conference.
MIKE RHOADES: Mike Rhoades can coach, and he’s local. He joined a VCU staff in 2009 to coach for Shaka Smart who was actually replacing the aforementioned Grant. They had immense success together, highlighted by a Final Four run in which they upset Georgetown in the Round of 64. Rhoades left VCU for his first head coaching gig at Rice before returning to VCU when the aforementioned Will Wade took the LSU job. Since then, he’s done a lot with a little. VCU is never the most talented nor the biggest but they always play physical. Rhoades is putting together his most impressive coaching performance in my opinion this year. Since point guard Ace Baldwin returned from an Achilles injury, the Commodores are 14-3 and have only been bested by Dayton, St. Bonaventure’s and Davidson. He’d provide an option with a high floor and at the very least, establish a defensive identity.
ANTHONY GRANT: Grant has been mostly good everywhere he has been and the Dayton team he put together in 2020 was pretty special, led by Naismith Trophy winner Obi Toppin and on track for a 1 seed before the COVID cancellation of the season. He has never had an issue identifying and recruiting talent, specifically tough guards. But despite coaching many good teams, he only has 3 (+ 2020) NCAA tournament appearances in the past 16 years. He also isn’t the youngest candidate at the age of 55 years old. Nonetheless, he has a history of recent success at a high levels and should be considered, especially if he can bring Malachi Smith and DaRon Holmes with him.
Let us transition into the some of the more fun candidates – the younger guys. These candidates will be divided into two categories. (1) The somewhat proven, ready and available and (2) Potential fits that are probably 1-3 years away from serious consideration as a Power 5 head coach.
DENNIS GATES: 42 year-old Cleveland St head coach Dennis Gates headlines this list as a clubhouse favorite of the all-important opinions of Georgetown Twitter. This weekend, Gates bettered Cleveland St’s record to 19-7, which was good enough to capture his second Horizon League regular season crown in 3 years. When he arrived at Cleveland State they were perhaps the biggest mess in the entire country. He inherited a program coming off a 10-21 season in which 8 of their 9 leading scorers left the program. At one point, the team had only 4 players on its roster. In his inaugural season, he patched together a team that went 7-11 in the Horizon, a feat so impressive he was voted the league’s Coach of the Year. The following season, his team took another step forward sweeping the Horizon League’s regular season and conference titles en route to an NCAA appearance and his second straight Horizon Coach of the Year. This year seems destined to be his third straight conference “Coach of the Year” award and potentially another tournament appearance. Given the fact that his six leading scorers are all technically seniors, Gates is likely on the move to a major conference whether that be Georgetown or the likes of, for example, Butler. He’s young, principled, and African-American – staples of Georgetown culture – and he’s been mentored by Leonard Hamilton and George Raveling, two of the biggest success stories among African American coaching ranks. Great fit.
WES MILLER: Miller has been a hot name on the coaching carousel for the past few seasons. Many may remember him as a senior point guard playing alongside Tyler Hansbrough on the UNC team that fell to Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert’s Hoyas in the 2007 Elite 8. Since then, he’s made inroads as a serious coach. He got the UNC Greensboro job when he was just 27 years old and quickly made them a contender, and beat Georgetown in what would be the last game James Akinjo and Josh Leblanc would play for the school. While Mike Young and Steve Forbes got ACC jobs, Miller settled for a pay raise at once dominant Cincinnati in the AAC. His first year at Cincinnati has been a success. When he signed on the Bearcats were another program that was hampered by roster depletion but he’s made them competitive in the AAC with an overall record of 17-10. Given his salary at Cincinnati, he’s probably a coach in line for a job one step up the ladder.
GRANT McCASLAND: A Midwestern coach that has been in Texas or Arkansas for the past decade, McCasland’s Mean Green of North Texas beat Purdue in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament last year in Indianapolis. Georgetown fans should remember him from 2016 when he led Arkansas State to a win over Georgetown at McDonough Gymnasium. Young and is one of the best up and coming coaches in the sport.
MATT McMAHON: McMahon is in a similar category as McCasland. He’s an exceptional coach that is putting together an exceptional year at Murray State and has put the Racers program on the map.
Beyond these coaches who are sure to be the next in line for high major offers, there is a slew of even younger coaches that are on the cusp. If Georgetown ends up in a situation where we it financially strapped due to buyouts and such, these candidates become far more likely.
JASON WILLIFORD: Williford has been a coach for 20+ years and has been on the bench at UVA for the last twelve seasons. He helped turn that program around into one of the best in the nation and was recently named as the top assistant coach in the ACC. A Richmond native, he has strong recruiting roots in the DMV.
DREW VALENTINE: Valentine, the older brother of NCAA Player of the Year Denzel Valentine, is in his first year at Loyola-Chicago succeeding the aforementioned Porter Moser. He is benefitting from retaining a large proportion of Moser’s Sweet 16 squad of last year but has put together a successful season that has had Loyola in and out of the Top 25 rankings. If he can preserve the culture that Moser built at Loyola and prove to be a good recruiter, someone is going to take a chance on him at a bigger school.
KYLE NEPTUNE: Kyle Neptune is another name that has gained some admiration from Georgetown Twitter circles. After a solid playing career at Lehigh, Neptune got his start in coaching as Jay Wright’s video coordinator. He’d spend the majority of the next 13 years on the Villanova bench before be being named the head man at Fordham. He has a tough turnaround at Fordham ahead of him but early indications are favorable. He’s put together a NYC/DMV centric staff and has out-coached some of the more glamorous coaches in the league. He knows the BIG EAST well and has spent his coaching lifetime contributing to what is now the conference’s gold standard.
KIM ENGLISH: Speaking of glamorous A-10 coaches, English is the new talk of the league. A former NBA player that starred at Mizzou and has made inroads in the coaching industry as an ace recruiter, George Mason hired him this past offseason to revitalize the once proud program. Like Neptune, early indications are promising. He’s a starlet with a microphone, active with Mason’s student body, and a top notch recruiter. He’s already landed Top 100 recruit Justyn Fernandez and Gonzaga Prep (DC) point guard Devin Dinkins in the DMV. When he beat Maryland in non-conference play it looked as though he wasn’t long for George Mason, but he’s had hiccups in A-10 conference play. If the Georgetown job does become available, it is inevitable that the media links him to the gig.
DANA FORD: At only 37 years old, he’s been a head coach at the Division 1 level for 8 years and is having a nice year at Missouri State after turning around Tennessee State previously and winning Ohio Valley Coach of the Year.
NOLAN SMITH: Nolan Smith is a wildcard in this race but checks off a lot of the boxes. He’s from the DMV and is well-respected for the career he put together as a player – which went from St Johns College (DC) to Riverdale Baptist (MD) to Oak Hill (VA) to Duke and then to the Portland Trail Blazers. Along that run, he was a McDonald’s All American, NCAA Champion, ACC Player of the Year, and an NBA 1st-round pick. After his playing career ended, he joined Coach K’s staff at Duke as a special assistant and was just recently promoted to the full staff for this past season. If he were to end up as a Georgetown coach in the foreseeable future, he’d need a legitimate support system and staff around him, but he’d clean up the DMV recruiting. And he’s one of the few young guys out there that definitely has an appreciation for what Georgetown was and can be.
MIKE JONES: Mike Jones has been a DC mainstay the past two decades since he succeeded the legendary Morgan Wooten at DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, MD. He surprisingly left the WCAC powerhouse this season to join Mike Young’s Virginia Tech staff, an indication that he probably wants to pursue a college head coaching career. Jones would certainly repair the relationship between Georgetown and DeMatha and bolster local recruiting, but making the leap to Georgetown head coach is a big reach at this point.
These next two candidates are worth mentioning because they’re going to be brought up, but would do very little to energize the fanbase. I present to you, the “We Can Do Better” category.
TOMMY AMAKER: Casual Hoya reported that Amaker’s name has been linked to the Georgetown job by people in college basketball circles. At Seton Hall, his one Sweet 16 appearance came as a 10 seed in which he struck a bit of luck. The following year, he returned the core of that team plus potentially the best recruiting class in the history of Seton Hall basketball, headlined by Eddie Griffin and Andre Barrett. That team – a preseason Top 10 team – woefully underperformed and Amaker escaped to Ann Arbor while he was still considered a hot commodity. That was 20 years ago, and he hasn’t been a hot commodity since. He ran an even prouder program at Michigan into the ground before resurrecting his career at Harvard. But even at Harvard, he has stagnated, failing to an NCAA Tournament since 2015.
JAMES JONES: Yale’s James Jones is a decent candidate but nothing jumps off the page from an excitement standpoint. Yale is a good school and Jones is a high-character guy, but he is nearing 60 years old and has still never coached a day in major-conference basketball.
This last group are candidates that come with some baggage, but would undoubtedly bring Georgetown back to respectability fast.
RICK PITINO: First up is Rick Pitino. A holier-than-thou administration at Georgetown wouldn’t touch him with a ten-foot pole, but he is undoubtedly one of the best college basketball coaches ever. Pitino is quickly turning Iona into a team no one wants to play, and the allure of Georgetown and a return to the Big East could pique his interest. Popular choice among fans.
CHRIS MACK: Mack’s tenure in Louisville ended abruptly and on a sour note, but he does have a lot of success in and familiarity with the Big East. Mack can flat-out coach.
THE MILLER BROTHERS: These two would likely be interested in the Georgetown job. Sean Miller is the more exciting of the two as he played at Pitt and is familiar with the Big East, but how much of a dark cloud he still has over him with how things went down at Arizona is a question. Archie was one of the best and brightest coaching candidates coming out of Dayton but for whatever reason failed to live up to expectations at Indiana.
This list and this discussion at this point is purely speculative, but many of these candidates would have a great shot at turning the Georgetown program around. Feel free to add your two cents or add some more potential names in the comments.