The Hot Seat gets most of the attention, but it’s only fair to give credit to the coaches who could and should be hot names after the season. These are 15 guys to keep an eye on, because they may not be long for their current spots — not when the big boys come calling.
Ryan Odom, UMBC
Odom has the bloodlines, and now he has the resume. The son of former Wake Forest coach Dave Odom turned the UMBC program around in just two years, pulling off the unthinkable by beating Virginia in the first round to become the first No. 16 seed to upset a No. 1 in NCAA Tournament history. Odom turned down a couple mid-majors after the win over Virginia, and should remain a hot name this coming offseason.
Record: 46-24 (2 seasons), one NCAA Tournament appearance
Nate Oats, Buffalo
Nate Oats was a high school head coach just five years ago. After spending two seasons as Bobby Hurley’s assistant, Oats was elevated and has compiled a 64-39 mark, taking the Bulls to a pair of NCAA Tournaments. Don’t be shocked if Oats makes another appearance, as UB will be favored to win the MAC this season.
Record: 64-39 (3 seasons), two NCAA Tournament appearances
T.J. Otzelberger, South Dakota State
Otzelberger was regarded as a recruiter both at Iowa State and Washington before being tabbed the head coach at South Dakota State two years ago. He inherited Mike Daum, which certainly helped, but Otzelberger has proven he can coach, taking the Jackrabbits to a pair of NCAA tourneys in his two seasons. With Daum back for another year, South Dakota State will have a chance to make it three in a row in the Otzelberger Era.
Record: 46-24 (2 seasons), two NCAA Tournament appearances
Eric Musselman, Nevada
Musselman was an NBA head coach at a young age, and then moved to the college ranks in 2012 with Arizona State. After one season under Johnny Jones at LSU, he was hired as the head coach at Nevada and now has the Wolf Pack as a preseason top-ten team nationally. This should be the third consecutive trip for Musselman to the NCAA Tournament, and it’s difficult to imagine a team from a power league not making a run at Musselman if that happens.
Record: 81-29 (3 seasons), two NCAA Tournament appearances
Earl Grant, College of Charleston
Grant inherited a complete mess after Doug Wojcik was fired in 2014,d and has quickly gotten the Cougars back on top in the CAA. Grant led CofC to an NIT appearance in 2016-17, and the Cougars went 26-8 and 14-4 in league play and won the conference tourney last season.
Record: 77-56 (4 seasons), 1 NCAA Tournament appearance
Wes Miller, UNC Greensboro
The former UNC Tar Heel guard became the interim coach in the middle of the 2011-12 campaign, and wound up getting the interim tag lifted after a solid finish to the season. He struggled the next three seasons, but has gone to the CBI, the NIT and NCAA tourney in each of the past three years. I’m not saying he’ll get it, but he could be in the mix when Roy Williams retires, and also has a strong connection to Wake Forest with his father, Ken, being a prominent booster at the school.
Record: 112-110 (6-plus seasons), 1 NCAA Tournament appearance
Porter Moser, Loyola Chicago
It’s crazy how quickly things can change. Moser went from a guy who had spent 13 seasons as a D-1 head coach in mostly anonymity to a household name after the surprising Final Four run. The Ramblers will be favored to win the Missouri Valley again, and if that happens don’t be surprised to see Moser head for a higher level.
Record: 226-212 (14 seasons), one NCAA Tournament appearance
Travis DeCuire, Montana
DeCuire was a heck of a player at Montana in the early to mid-90’s and has led the Griz to three postseason appearances and a 26-8 record and an NCAA Tournament berth this past season. DeCuire was an assistant at Cal from 2008-2014, so he could be in the mix for any Pac-12 opening.
Career Record: 83-49 (4 seasons), 1 NCAA Tournament appearance
John Becker, Vermont
Becker has gotten some looks from other schools, but he’s still vastly underrated. His resume in seven seasons includes two NCAA berths, a pair of NIT’s and a trio of CBIs. The Catamounts have finished in the top two of the America East in six of his seven seasons at the helm.
Career Record: 166-77 (7 seasons), 2 NCAA Tournament appearances
John Brannen, Northern Kentucky
A former player at Marshall, Brannen paid his dues as an assistant at Charleston, Eastern Kentucky, St. Bonaventure, VCU and Alabama before getting a shot three years ago. The first season was brutal, a 9-21 mark, but the last two have been impressive: 46-21 overall, 27-9 in the Horizon and an NCAA and NIT berth.
Career Record: 56-42 (3 seasons), 1 NCAA Tournament appearance
Steve Forbes, East Tennessee State
Forbes began in the juco ranks and then was a longtime D-1 assistant before getting the ETSU job in 2015. He wasted no time getting the Bucs back on track, winning 24 in his first year, 27 in his second and 25 last season. ETSU has finished in the top two of the SoCon all three years since Forbes has taken over, and the Bucs went to the NCAA tourney in 2017.
Career Record: 76-29 (3 seasons), 1 NCAA Tournament berth
Paul Weir, New Mexico
Weir was elevated to the head coaching spot at New Mexico State after Marvin Menzies left for UNLV, and proceeded to take NMSU to the NCAA Tournament in his first year. Then he left for New Mexico and overachieved with a Lobos program that was in disarray. UNM went 19-15 and finished third in the Mountain West last season. If Weir can finish in the top three again, he could become a hot name.
Career Record: 47-21 (2 seasons), 1 NCAA Tournament appearance
Nathan Davis, Bucknell
Davis was successful at D-3 Randolph-Macon and has led the Bison to the NCAA tourney in two of his three seasons since taking over in 2015. Over the last two years, Bucknell is 51-19 overall and 31-5 in Patriot League play. I’m not sure where Davis lands, but he should be sought-after with his accomplishments.
Career Record: 68-33 (3 seasons), 2 NCAA Tournament appearances
Leon Rice, Boise State
I don’t understand why no one has hired Leon Rice at the high-major level. He’s a proven coach who learned at Gonzaga, and has evaluated and developed guys like Chandler Hutchison, James Webb II and Derrick Marks. Rice has taken the Broncos to a pair of NCAA tourneys and a pair of NIT’s in eight seasons.
Career Record: 165-96 (8 seasons), 2 NCAA Tournament appearances
Dan Muller, Illinois State
Muller hasn’t gone to the NCAA tourney, but has made a couple of NIT appearances, and has finished in the top three of the Valley the last four seasons. He is a proven evaluator and developer of talent, from his time as an assistant at Vanderbilt to his tenure at Illinois State. If he can get to the NCAA Tournament, don’t be surprised if he becomes one of the hottest names out there.
Career Record: 122-80 (6 seasons)