Earlier this year, the valiant contributors at Casual Hoya released an in-depth look at dozens of potential coaching candidates, casting a wide net on the impending coaching search that looms for the Georgetown brass. This update to that long list intends to provide updated considerations on who are the most likely candidates for the job as head coach of the Georgetown Hoyas—and who should be quickly eliminated from the discussions.
RICK PITINO: Pitino should likely be the odds on favorite but it’s anybody’s guess how the administration views him as a candidate. If there were no baggage, he’d be a no brainer. He still likely the top candidate. At what other time would you back into one of the best coaches in the history of college hoops telling you he has five to six good years left, his goal is to make another Final Four, and he more or less is willing to walk to D.C. for this job? On top of that, he may be the least expensive candidate out there—requiring no buyout and likely only a semi-lucrative contract. CBS Sports thinks he Georgetown is somewhere he could pick, and his recent complaints about a single-bid conference make folks think he’s ready to get back in a high-major conference. The main competition for Pitino looks to be South Florida and St. John’s, but in reality the only people standing between Pitino and Georgetown are those making the final decision on the next coach. It would be negligence to not give him a legitimate interview.
ED COOLEY: Providence fans will tell you that Cooley will never leave Providence. Journalists in the sport say that Cooley would likely consider the job. The reality is probably the latter but only if Georgetown opens the check book and pays Cooley like one of the elite coaches in the sport. He’d certainly rejuvenate the fan base, respect the history and lore of the Thompson family, and raise the floor for the program. He’s won 20 games in 9 of his past 12 seasons as a coach. He’d essentially be a sure-fire success. The only concern … despite his consistent success, his teams have never reached the pinnacle of the sport, having only reached one sweet 16. Does that warrant a 30 to 40 million dollar investment to sway him from in-conference rival Providence?
MIKE YOUNG: Young remains a qualified, outside-the-box candidate as his buyout is only $4.6 million. Virginia Tech hasn’t replicated their success this season but Young may be looking to jump to an easier job in a conference trending upwards, as opposed to the ACC. He’s identified the importance of recruiting and maintaining relationships in the DMV, adding Christian Webster and Mike Jones to his staff, which many would say is a pre-requisite to coach at Georgetown. And he can flat out coach. He’d be a very solid, almost-unanimously approved hire.
MIKE BREY: There seems to be some momentum in the Brey to Georgetown rumors. Is that a good thing? On one hand, he’s an accomplished high major coach that has had success at a similar, academic driven Catholic school and has roots in Washington D.C. On the other hand, he’s been a marginal coach since Notre Dame’s back to back Elite 8s in 2015 and 2016. The current rendition of Notre Dame brought back four fifth-year seniors, a five-star guard, and Marcus Hammond (a competent transfer who Georgetown recruited) from a Sweet 16 team—and yet they have only two conference wins in the worst ever rendition of the ACC. Georgetown is breaking all time bad KenPom records (207 overall, 226 adjD) but Notre Dame sits right with them (173 overall, 276 adjD). The question is: does a potentially rejuvenated Brey build a staff (potentially with the names of Mike Jones, Mike Pegues, and Anthony Solomon) and find success in what is becoming a loaded Big East? Seems too risky.
KEVIN KEATTS: Keatts has lost some of the luster he had in 2017 when he moved from UNCW to NC State coming off a 29 win season. He’s had mixed results at NC State, reaching only one tournament (will likely be two this year) but he has won 20 games in 4 of 6 years at the helm. This year has been his best as he has the Wolfpack 22-7 with March approaching. He’s gotten back to his bread and butter that worked so well for him at UNCW, combining three guards that play at a fast tempo with a steady back to the basket big man. I’d bet he’s found NC State to be a very difficult job and would be willing to move on if the right job came around. Georgetown fits the bill and he’d likely throw his hat in the ring.
MICAH SHREWSBERRY: Shrewsberry has done an admirable job thus far at Penn State turning around that program and has the Nittany Lions poised to make the NCAA Tournament this season in year two. By all accounts a great guy and motivator, plenty of experience at all levels including with the Boston Celtics. Would he leave a cushy gig in the B1G for Georgetown?
CHRIS HOLTMANN: Holtmann has a Big East pedigree as he reached the Round of 32 or better in all three seasons at Butler. He’s also had (Regular Season) success at Ohio St but is yet to reach a sweet 16 despite being ranked every year he’s been in charge. Ohio State is struggling mightily this year and the honeymoon between Holtmann and the Buckeyes may be coming to an end. I’d expect him to be a candidate for Notre Dame, Georgetown, and potentially Butler if Matta retires. It’d likely be a quiet mutual departure for Holtmann and Ohio State.
CHRIS MACK: 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.
DENNIS GATES: Gates isn’t really a candidate. It would take 14 million dollars to buy him out of the rest of his Missouri contract and then an additional 20-25 million to bring him to Washington D.C. If the Hoyas are willing to spend that kind of money, Cooley would be the likely candidate and not Gates, although I’m not totally sure Gates isn’t a better candidate. Georgetown missed the boat here. He was the obvious candidate last offseason. Gates likely would have preferred Georgetown to Missouri. And he could have been had for half the money he would require now. Credit to Dennis Gates, however. It looks like he turned Missouri around immediately and is one of the better young coaches in America.
In the second category, we’ll provide the most likely candidates on the smaller scale. It’s unlikely any of these are serious candidates as I expect Georgetown to attempt to make a splash with an established candidate.
To Be Considered
MIKE RHOADES: 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. VCU was in great standing when he got there so he hasn’t built a program from scratch but he’s kept the train moving on a disciplined, defensive first program. This year, VCU looks to be taking advantage of a poor A-10. He’s due for a high major gig. If he were to get the job, it’d be crucial he brings along an offensive coordinator type on his staff but the Hoyas would no longer be a turn-style defensively.
RON HUNTER: There are some decent traits that come with Ron Hunter. He’s charming, energetic, and has built three programs now at IUPUI, Georgia St and Tulane. He’s having his first decent year at Tulane and it has him primed to try to move up another level. He’s rumored to be a candidate at Georgia Tech. He comes with question marks though. His schemes are on the gimmicky side and despite recent success at Tulane, he’s still just a .500 coach at an AAC school on paper.
GRANT McCASLAND: McCasland is going to be a candidate in the southern coaching carousel (Texas, maybe Oklahoma, maybe Oklahoma St, maybe Texas Tech). He’s never coached outside of the region but he can flat out coach. It’s a lot more refined on the defensive side than the offensive side but the results are impressive. He’s won 20 games in every season but one – a season in which he still made the tournament and upset Purdue in Indianapolis.
KEITH URGO: Urgo is a personal favorite of mine. He joined Kyle Neptune’s staff at Fordham last year after working under Pat Chambers and Jay Wright. Fordham showed immediate signs of a turnaround. Neptune left for Villanova and Fordham only got better under Urgo’s watch (first 20 win season since 1991). I’m beginning to think Urgo and the rest of the staff may have been very responsible for Neptune’s promising Fordham display. Urgo also has some local ties. He’s a DC native, having attended and coached at Gonzaga College High School. Similar to McCasland, his team plays disciplined dogged defense. It’s sloppy on the offensive side but he has the makings of a very good coach. He’s likely a few years away but if you were to take a big swing, I’d keep an eye out.
JAMES JONES: Jones has been discussed as an academic first option that would be happy to move from a similar institution for a massive pay raise. And Georgetown has had success poaching from the Ivy League (Thompson III). Jones would be a boring hire but to Jones’ credit he’s put together an impressive career. He built Yale from nothing and has suprassed Harvard, Princeton, and Penn in recent years as the class of the league. We likely won’t reach the point where he needs consideration but he’s a name to monitor.
DUSTY MAY: May is the darling of the 2022-23 season. He has Florida Atlantic 25-3. He may parlay that into a jump but I doubt it’s at the level of a Georgetown. This is the first season of five that his teams have had legitimate success and I wouldn’t take that risk yet. He is the favorite to end up at the vacant spot at Ole Miss.
TAKAYO SIDDLE: Siddle—to me—should be more of a darling than May (or Pat Kelsey). He’s younger and he inherited a very bad UNCW team. The turnaround didn’t take long. He’s likely many years away from a jump to the likes of a Georgetown but he’s well on his way to building UNCW back in the same fashion that Kevin Keatts did in 2017.
PAT KELSEY: Kelsey is going to push for a high major job this year. He’s a former Xavier assistant that now has a solid decade long resume as a head coach. He’s struck gold this year with a College of Charleston team that is 27-3. The rumor is he wants Notre Dame. One note on Kelsey is that he can be very brash (e.g., Eric Musselman-esque) and if it doesn’t work out at his next stop, his charm will wear out quite fast.
MIKE JONES: The former Dematha coach turned Virginia Tech associate head coach was floated by Chris Wright as a candidate that alumni and DMV connections would whole heartedly support. As mentioned in the previous article, it’s likely a jump too far for Jones at this point but his name is worth knowing. He’s been floated as a candidate at Old Dominion (his alma mater) but a new coach, especially if it is Mike Brey, may try to bring him as a package deal to be the associate head coach with the intent of him taking over, eventually.
JOE PASTERNACK: If Georgetown wants to go out of the box and look out West, Joe Pasternack has turned around the UC-Santa Barbara program and made it a perennial power in the Big West. Pasternack has complied a 70%+ winning percentage over his 6 years and had the Gauchos within a missed 3-footer of upsetting fellow Big East member Creighton in the 1st round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Pasternack has experience coaching at Power 5 schools including Cal and Arizona, and has recruited a number of current NBA players including All-Star Lauri Markkanen.
There are many more candidates who will want the job. Despite the current state of the Hoyas program, it is Georgetown after all. It is a Big East school, with elite facilities, in the heart of the richest recruiting ground in the country, and for the past 15 years it has paid coaches like it remains a blue blood. The likes of Mark Turgeon, Johnny Dawkins, and Tommy Amaker (or even analysts like Jay Williams) will likely also throw their names in the ring. They shouldn’t be considered.
I hope Georgetown brass considers this hiring process as the most significant inflection point in the basketball program since Thompson’s hiring in 1972. This is the best chance they have to distinguish a path from the Thompson tree and get it right. While homage should be paid to John Thompson’s impact and legacy, there needs to be a clean break and a rebirth for the program that essentially guarantees the ship gets righted in the next half decade.