The situation surrounding the basketball team at 3700 O St. has reached an inevitable conclusion. With each passing loss in the Big East, the hole Patrick Ewing and staff have dug for themselves becomes more and more insurmountable. It seems a certainty that a national coaching search is on deck for Hoyas brass, although it is anybody’s guess who will be making the final decision on the school’s next head basketball coach.
The coming weeks and months will certainly serve as a hotbed for debate amongst fans and alumni regarding what we should be looking for in a new coach. If it was up to me, I’d have my sights set on a coach with a proven track record at the highest level of college basketball. Simply put, with the program on the brink of irrelevance and the school seemingly still willing to pay top dollar (According to reports, Patrick Ewing’s buyout money is not a concern), the next hire absolutely cannot be a swing and a miss.
Georgetown, however, is a very unique job that carries weight in African-American communities and in the eyes of many alumni, has been a moral pillar in the ever changing college hoops landscape. It’s debatable how true or important that is. The Hoyas have slowly lost their significance in African-American culture, especially among the youth, in the years since Big Coach, Ewing the player, and Iverson in Kente. And, the current regime has cherry-picked staff from LSU, has encouraged fourth year players to transfer (Ighoefe), and has pushed scholarship players to a managerial role (Wilson) all in the name of winning. Not only has the team failed in this department, it has failed in graduating players. In the Ewing era, Patrick has brought in 22 high school and junior college players that have played more than 1 year in college. Of those 22, only 2 players – Jamorko Pickett and Jahvon Blair – finished school.4 players – Wahab, Wilson, Riley, Mutombo – are still at the school. 17 players, including Qudus Wahab’s original departure, chose to leave school and not finish their education at Georgetown.
Things have to change. Georgetown has to find a candidate that can return the Hoyas to the upper echelon of the Big East and college basketball. It’s too good of a job, in too good of an area, at too good of a school for this rendition of the Hoyas to become normal.
The following are the significant (and insignificant) candidates in the inevitable coaching search:
THE RESPECTABLE CANDIDATES
Moser is probably very unrealistic, as he’d be super expensive, is historically a Midwest guy, and recently moved to Oklahoma from Loyola to the sweet tune of $2.8 million annually. Prior to Oklahoma, Moser orchestrated two Cinderella runs at Loyola (one to the Final Four and one to the Sweet 16). I list him here because he’s devoutly Catholic and I think he’d seriously consider the move. 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, he would be reminiscent of JTIII, which may be a good thing right now.
Mike Boynton is expensive and mostly unproven but I think he is one of the big fishes that would jump at the opportunity to coach Georgetown. He is 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 down side: 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, I do think he could get talented kids to come to Georgetown, which is desperately needed in the next coach.
Mike Rhoades can coach, and he’s local. He joined a VCU staff in 2009 to coach for Shaka Smart. 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 replace Will Wade. Since then, he’s done a lot with a little. VCU is never the most talented nor the biggest but they always play physical. He’d be another high floor / low ceiling hire but he’s due for a high major gig and would sharpen up the defensive side of the ball.
Grant has been mostly good everywhere he has been and the Dayton team he put together in 2020 was pretty special. They were 29-2 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 17 years. He isn’t the youngest candidate at the age of 56 years old and is about as boring as it gets personality wise. I also doubt he’d leave his alma mater. I think it’s very unlikely he ends up the next coach at Georgetown.
RICHARD PITINO JR:
His dad is the candidate that many think the Hoyas should pursue but it looks like Pitino Jr. may be nearing a return to major college hoops. He was fired at Minnesota two years ago but was somewhat decent there, making two tournaments. Minnesota was bad before him and has been even worse after. He now has performed a total turn around at New Mexico, coaching the Lobos to a 14-1 record and an appearance in top 25 polls. I think you could do far better than a Big Ten retread but he may be amongst the candidates.
McCasland doesn’t make a ton of sense regionally. He’s a Midwest guy. His name is going to be floated at Texas, although they’ll likely spend for a huge name. But he can really coach, especially defensively. He most notably beat Purdue in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament two years ago in Indianapolis. Georgetown fans should remember him from 2016 when he won his second Division 1 game ever at McDonough Gymnasium to the tune of “Fire Thompson” chants. Again, given geography, I really doubt we kick the tires here but he’s young and is one of the best up and coming coaches in the entire sport.
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 in roads as a serious coach. He got the UNC Greensboro job when he was just 27 years old and made them a contender. They notably beat us in 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 star player Isaiah Miller was leaving UNCG and he probably saw that as his best opportunity to seek a new job. He’s been O.K. at Cincinnati and is probably going to need to establish them on a consistent basis before a bigger school gives him an even bigger opportunity.
THE LONGSHOTS – EXPENSIVE EDITION
Here is where things may get interesting. If Georgetown is willing to spend whatever is necessary to eliminate the gamble in a hire, this is the route. Buying out Oats’ contract would cost $9 million, plus the hefty fee you’d have to give him annually to leave his lucrative Alabama job. Would Oats even consider leaving Alabama? Who knows. But he’s an impressive candidate that turned Alabama into a national threat essentially overnight. His teams play up tempo, enjoyable basketball and his brash outspoken personality would be extremely fun as a fun. Texas likely kicks the tires on him as well.
This isn’t happening. Gates was the perfect candidate if you fired Ewing after last season but this time around, admitting that mistake would probably be too expensive. Gates is owed in the region of 17 million over the next six years at Missouri and there’s no way Georgetown chooses to buy him out. We should acknowledge Gates’ early success at Missouri however. He has the Tigers 12-2 with upset wins over Illinois and Kentucky. He would’ve been a great hire and we may be regretting missing on him for years if we get this upcoming hire wrong.
Underwood has been one of the larger success stories as a hire in the past decade. He’s returned Illinois to national relevance and his contract is structured that he’s a serious buyout candidate for especially lucrative administrations. Essentially, one would need to pay $2 million annually to buyout the next four years of his deal (which runs through 2028) to have a claim at Underwood’s services. Texas may be willing to spend that. Georgetown may as well, but I doubt Underwood would leave Champagne for DC. He’s had all of his success in the Midwest but money does talk and he’d be a pretty sure thing as a coach.
Now I could be convinced in a plan to hire Mike Young and bring Mike Jones along as his Associate Head Coach to dominate D.C. recruiting. That seems far more tenable and likely to succeed than the outright gamble on Jones himself. After this season, Young will have only two years left on his deal with Virginia Tech. He’ll be a candidate for an extension or for an even more ambitious team (Georgetown?) to swoop in and lure him away. If the Hoyas are willing to pay the money, it’d be a sound investment. Young can flat out coach since his Wofford days and has proven he can do it at the highest level, defeating a Final Four Duke team in the ACC Championship last season.
CLOSE BUT MAYBE NOT QUITE THERE YET?
Drew Valentine, the older brother of NCAA Player of the Year Denzel Valentine, is in his second year at Loyola succeeding the aforementioned Porter Moser. He put together an impressive first year but was largely the beneficiary of Moser’s players and culture. This year, following a move to the A-10, the Ramblers have struggled. The shine has worn off Valentine slightly but he’s still extremely young and has already proven he can really coach the defensive side of the ball. He’s likely the eventual successor to Tom Izzo at Michigan St. but I could see the Hoyas kick the tires here.
DeVries is an unlikely candidate but has built a good program at Drake and is likely trying to move up a level in the near future. He’s familiar with the current rendition of the Big East, as he was a Creighton assistant until 2018, and he’d bring along his son Tucker (averaging 18 and 6 on 46/38/79 splits) who can really play.
Urgo is in his first year at Fordham and isn’t too dissimilar from Kyle Neptune as a candidate. He has Fordham off to a 12-3 start and he’s benefitted from retaining Neptune’s entire staff. He’s a DC native, having attended and coached at Gonzaga College High School. Following his time at the school he had assistant stints at Villanova under Jay Wright and Penn State, where he helped Pat Chambers rebuild the Nittany Lions. He is only 42 years old and if he establishes any sort of maintained success at Fordham (a very hard thing to do) he will be a candidate for a major job in the near future.
English is a former NBA player that starred at Mizzou and has made inroads in the coaching industry as an ace recruiter. George Mason hired him two offseasons ago to revitalize the once proud program, which was seen as a great move at the time. He’s a starlet with a microphone, active with Mason’s student body, and a top notch recruiter. He’s recruited well thus far but the results on the court aren’t quite there yet. He’s posted a pedestrian 23-22 record. He is a few years away, if he ever does put it together at George Mason, but it may be inevitable that the media links him to an opening at Georgetown.
I expect to start hearing Damon Stoudamire’s name as a college candidate again. A former Memphis and Arizona assistant, Stoudamire took the Pacific job in 2016 and performed quite a nice turnaround, winning a WCC Coach of the Year. He was thought to be a serious candidate at Arizona, his alma mater where he was a star player, before they hire Tommy Lloyd (a great hire). He then departed Pacific to join the Celtics staff. He is Joe Mazulla’s lead assistant this year, having coached multiple games in which Mazulla was out with health concerns. He’ll be a viable candidate somewhere.
Odom should probably be in the ‘Respectable Candidate’ tier. He made waves with UMBC when they knocked off number 1 overall seed Virginia and parlayed that success into a hire out west at Utah St. His first season had mixed results but his current team looks to be a tournament team. He’s young, energetic, and has had success in the greater DC/Maryland area. He would be a sizable gamble but he’s likely a good coach.
The following are the “Quiet, Academic” options, the “Longshots - Less Expensive,” and some of the “Most Likely” candidates (PART II):
THE QUIET, ACADEMIC FIRST OPTIONS
Casual Hoya reported last year that Amaker was the clubhouse leader in the administration’s eyes if they were to depart from Ewing. I think he’s a non-factor this time around. He’s been a failure at two proud major programs. 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. Now this is 20 years ago, and he hasn’t been a hot commodity since. He ran an even more proud program at Michigan into the ground before resurrecting his career at Harvard. But even at Harvard, he has stagnated. He hasn’t made a NCAA Tournament since 2015. I think last year was just his agent, David Falk, trying to repair his reputation after Coach K essentially intervened to prevent Duke from hiring him. He’s a non-candidate for me.
If we want to not spend and get back to graduating players, James Jones is fine. He’s had a good career. Six Ivy league Championships is nothing to sneeze at and we’ve had success hiring from the Ivy League. He’ll probably be brought up because he’s at a prestigious University and is a high character man. We fired a guy with similar characteristics in 2017 because we were still ambitious as a basketball program. I hope the standard hasn’t changed as Jones is nearing 60 years old and has still never coached a day in major conference basketball.
Dawkins made the jump in 2008 from Duke assistant to major conference head coach at Stanford. He’s had mixed results as a head man. He’s only made two NCAA tournament appearances but had impressive showings in each tournament. He’s coached at a prestigious University at the past which is a valuable experience. However, he’d be a boring, unambitious hire. He failed to string together multiple great seasons at UCF and has likely found his level at the AAC.
Schmidt is in the same ilk as Dawkins. A BC graduate on the older side, he seems comfortable to stay at St. Bonaventure’s the rest of his career. He was in the conversation at UMass last year, so perhaps he’d depart, but he’s now been passed over at his alma mater twice. He’s a fine coach but like Dawkins, would be an uninspiring hire.
Langel isn’t a serious candidate unless you’re punting on spending any money towards the basketball program going forward. It doesn’t seem like that’s the plan. But Langel has become the class of the Patriot League and has put together a good little program in upstate New York.
THE LESS EXPENSIVE LONGSHOTS
McCollum is the crown jewel of Division II basketball and bound to make the leap to Division 1. At the age of 41, he already has 5 National Coach of the Year awards and 4 National Championships, building a program from nothing. He was linked to the UMass opening last year but they ultimately settled on Frank Martin. When he does make the jump, I expect him to have success, but a jump to Georgetown just seems like too big a jump.
Robert Jones is a cheap local option that’s built a nice little program down at Norfolk St. Last year, he made the tournament with Norfolk for the second time and he may be in line to make a jump from the MEAC. That jump would be to a CAA level school likely and not one with the prestige of Georgetown.
Tony Bennett’s lead assistant has built a strong reputation as both a recruiter and coach. He has no experience as a head coach but does have experience recruiting in DC. And Virginia is the poster boy for great defense, good culture, and player retention in the modern game. He seems like a very unlikely candidate though.
Young is making a name for himself as UConn is becoming one of the better programs in the country again. He was also heavily linked to the UMass opening last spring but reportedly, his criminal past – in which he was caught with 96 pounds of marijuana in 1999 – disqualified him from the job. I’d be hard pressed to see Georgetown take such a gamble on an inexperienced coach with that blemish on his resume. He has done a remarkable job helping Hurley build the Huskies, though, and could be in line for a head coaching job in the near future.
THE MOST LIKELY CANDIDATES
Pitino has to be the clubhouse favorite amongst the school’s online presence. The 70 year-old is one of the sport’s most decorated coaches. He brought Providence, Louisville, and Kentucky all to the Final Four within his first 4 years at each school. He’s won National Championships at multiple programs. Every indication shows that he is still energetic about the sport – going all the way to Greece to coach during his temporary banishment from the American game. He doesn’t have a buyout at Iona, allowing him to move freely to his next school, and he has made it known he may be interested in a move to the Big East. The biggest competition for his signature is likely St. John’s. He’s a native New Yorker but sent his son to Georgetown and you’d likely expect him to rate the Georgetown job superior to St. John’s. Given that the NCAA has indicated no wrongdoing in his Louisville scandal, it seems inevitable this is the offseason in which the Hall of Famer returns to major college hoops.
Often linked to high profile jobs by Jeff Goodman and Rob Dauster, Ed Cooley will be an often discussed candidate. To this date, he’s been very loyal to Providence but Georgetown is likely one of the few jobs he’d leave the Friars for. He’s spoken fondly of the Thompson family, understands the importance of history and nostalgia to this program, and his daughter attends Georgetown. His patented flex offense may give nightmare flashbacks to the days of JTIII, but he’s proving extremely capable in exploiting the transfer portal in the modern game. It took no time for the 2022-23 Friars to “gel” as they are off to a 13-3 start and recently knocked off number 4 UConn.
It seems like Brey has been at Notre Dame a lifetime and it seems like ages ago that his ND teams were giving Kentucky’s undefeated 2014-15 squad a hell of a fight in the Elite Eight. But you could make a serious claim as to why Brey may find newfound energy and success at Georgetown. He’s a DC native and former DeMatha player and coach that could utilize that pipeline in a fashion similar to Mike Jones. He’s had success in the Big East. He’d recruit well in DC. He’s a very competent X’s and O’s and culture coach. Although on the older side, we could do far worse. He’d provide a high floor, albeit maybe a lower ceiling than others on these lists.
Chris Mack likely soured his relationship with Georgetown’s fanbase when Jeff Goodman was reporting the details of a supposed deal that Mack turned down prior to the Ewing hire. Mack would be eager to repair those relationships and his reputation if it meant he got a second chance at a legitimate program and especially a Big East one. Mack, although unemployed, remains a formidable coaching candidate. He had Xavier playing as a 1 seed within the past 5 years and recent events at Louisville show that he might not have been that bad there after all. He’d certainly be on the cheaper side as well, as unemployed coaches don’t require a contract buyout.
Mike Jones is going to be amongst the most debated coaching candidates. Former Hoya and beloved alumni Chris Wright recently backed Jones to be the next coach through DawgTalk, his Georgetown centric podcast/Instagram page. He is however far less qualified than the previous four names. Jones is only in his second season in the college ranks as an assistant to Mike Young at Virginia Tech – which has been a successful relationship. Prior to Virginia Tech, Jones was the coach of storied DeMatha Catholic for twenty years in which they had enormous success. He’d be an ace recruiter from the jump, there is no denying that, but questions remain surrounding Jones’ aptitude and experience. DeMatha was a powerhouse far before he took the reigns and it is very rare for coaches to get a job of Georgetown’s prestige without previous head coaching experience. Danny Hurley was a great high school coach in New Jersey and his entry to head coaching at the college level was at Wagner and then URI before the UConn job. That trend could be changing though as Tommy Lloyd and Jerome Tang have been initial successes at Arizona and Kansas State respectively.
Feel free to add your two cents in the comments about these candidates or add some others who we haven’t covered!