Why Do So Many Former NBA Players Struggle as College Coaches?

Memphis coach Penny Hardaway welcomed in two of the most talented freshmen in the country, a Hall of Fame coach and yet is on track to a fourth consecutive season without an NCAA Tournament appearance.

Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing sits in the cellar of the Big East with an 0-10 record. He’s suffered more than twice as many Big East setbacks (54) than wins (26) and hasn’t been able to make his alma mater relevant beyond a three-day stretch last March in the Big East Tournament.

Jerry Stackhouse has struggled to rack up SEC victories in three years since taking over a Vanderbilt program that went to eight NCAA Tournaments from 2004-17.

That trio is likely to join the lengthy list of former NBA players who haven’t exactly thrived in the college coaching ranks.

Former St. John’s star Chris Mullin lasted four years at his alma mater and was 20-52 in Big East play before both sides agreed it wasn’t working. Isiah Thomas made it three and was jettisoned with a 26-65 mark at FIU. Clyde Drexler only endured two seasons at Houston and left with a total of seven league victories. Mike Dunleavy Sr. was a complete disaster at Tulane, failing to win a conference game in his final season. Mark Price was fired after two-plus years at Charlotte, and Eddie Jordan was a train wreck at Rutgers, finishing with a 3-33 Big Ten record.

Those are the big names, but there are others who didn’t get it done at the lower levels: Michael Curry at FAU, Clemon Johnson at FAMU, Scott Padgett at Samford, Corliss Williamson at Central Arkansas and Donyell Marshall at Central Connecticut State. Those five were a combined 221-429 in their D-1 college coaching careers. In all fairness, many of those are brutally difficult jobs, but none could be termed successful. Not as college coaches, anyway.

There are some who have enjoyed a level of success. Al Skinner was terrific for most of his tenure at Boston College, going to seven NCAA Tournaments in 13 seasons. Kevin Ollie won a national title at UConn, but was fired just four years later. Larry Krystkowiak had it rolling for a while at Utah, going to the Sweet 16 in 2015, and Dan Majerle (Grand Canyon) and Damon Stoudamire (Pacific) both did a nice job at their spots.

Juwan Howard was terrific in his second season at Michigan, but is 12-9 overall and 6-5 in Big Ten play this year. Lorenzo Romar went to six NCAA tourneys in 15 seasons at Washington and also had success at Saint Louis. Bryce Drew was great at Valparaiso (and so far at Grand Canyon), but was let go after a third disastrous campaign at Vanderbilt. Fred Hoiberg crushed it at his alma mater, Iowa State, but has struggled in his first three seasons at Nebraska and is 0-12 in Big Ten play this year. Bobby Hurley took Arizona State to a pair of tournament appearances, but the Sun Devils have been awful the past two seasons.

There are far more misses coming from the ex-NBA player pool than success stories.

We looked at all the notable college coaches who played at least 200 NBA games in their careers, which meant that Virginia’s Tony Bennett (152 career games) and BYU’s Mark Pope (153 career games) weren’t eligible. Hubert Davis (North Carolina) and Mike Woodson (Indiana) are in their first year at their alma maters, and it’s also too early to evaluate Alabama State’s Mo Williams in just his second season.

Not a single coach — past or present — has earned an ‘A’ grade. The best of the bunch? Probably Skinner, who played 337 games over six seasons. Howard was certainly on that trajectory after an Elite Eight appearance last season, but he had a .500 league record in his rookie campaign and has struggled this year.

But guys like Hardaway, Ewing and Stackhouse have been lackluster thus far, and that’s being kind. What do they all have in common? They made millions and millions in the NBA.

Of the 16 college coaches (past and present) we examined that earned at least $20 million over the course of their playing careers, the only ones who can be termed successful as college coaches are Howard, Ollie, Majerle and Stoudamire — and “successful” is debatable since Ollie only lasted six years and Majerle was fired after seven.

Howard, Hardaway and Ewing each earned over $100 million in their playing careers, Stackhouse made in excess of $84 million and guys like Danny Manning, Aaron McKie, Avery Johnson, Mullin, Drexler, Price, Williamson, Marshall and Lindsey Hunter all earned at least $20 million.

Here are a few of the reasons why many of these former NBA players don’t work out:

When talking to a few of those coaches who have made the transition, there’s no clear answer as to why the majority of the hires haven’t worked out well. Sure, some of the guys who made $100 million don’t quite understand the amount of time necessary to rebuild a program, whether it’s on the recruiting trail, on the phones to prospective recruits, their families and AAU/high school coaches, while also dealing with boosters.

“If you really want to coach and get into the college game and be a head coach, it’s more than just the X’s and O’s,” Howard said. “If you’re not willing to embrace the other stuff, this is not the place for you. You probably need to find another profession.”

“You know going in that it’s going to be work,” Hoiberg told Stadium. “But when you go out and spend 10 days on the road from 8 a.m. until 10 or 11 at night in the gym all day, that’s when it really hits you.”

Hoiberg recalled one of his first recruiting trips after being hired by Iowa State. He took a flight to Los Angeles for an AAU event to attend one game prior to getting on a red-eye to South Carolina. The player he was there to see never showed.

Former NBA guard Mo Williams, who is in his second season at Alabama State, said most NBA players have no shortage of down time during the season and offseason. There are practices, games and workouts, but that leaves plenty of time each day.

“You have a lot of time on your hands,” Williams said. “As a player, we didn’t answer our phones. We didn’t want the distractions. Now you have to answer the phone, you have to talk to a parent, respond to a kid, get to know the high school coach, the AAU coaches, the media, the alumni. You’ve got to be accessible all the time.”

“There’s a million things that are at your feet every day, that you didn’t even think about,” Bobby Hurley added. “And you really have no idea until you see it.”

Hoiberg had incredible success in Ames before being hired to coach the Chicago Bulls in 2015. He took the Cyclones to the NCAA Tournament four straight years and brought a ton of high-end talent to Iowa State, both through the transfer portal and also from the high school ranks.

“The most important thing to me was to put the right staff around me,” Hoiberg admitted.

Hoiberg retained veteran assistant T.J. Otzelberger from Greg McDermott’s staff, and also hired veteran former head coach Bobby Lutz on his first staff. Howard’s staff had a similar makeup, bringing on board long-time St. Joseph’s head coach Phil Martelli, retaining assistant Saddi Washington and adding Howard Eisley from the NBA.

“I took my time in hiring a staff that’s right for the program, the best for the players,” Howard said.

Stoudamire had been in the college game. He started as the director of player development at Rice, and was an assistant at both Memphis and Arizona before getting the head job at Pacific. That allowed him to do the necessary homework to hire a staff that fit him and the mid-major level.

“You have to have a good staff,” Stoudamire said. “Or you won’t have a chance to succeed.”

Many of the former players who haven’t coached in the college ranks don’t have a clue who to hire, so they rely on others to put together their staff. Sometimes that works, but often it doesn’t.

Stackhouse has already parted ways with two of the three assistants on his initial staff, while Ewing and Mullin both made questionable decisions regarding their staff. North Carolina’s Hubert Davis brought former Auburn and ECU head coach Jeff Lebo onto his staff in a recruiting position, elevated Sean May — who has never recruited before — and kept veteran assistant Brad Frederick.

What do guys like Ewing, Dunleavy Sr., Drexler, Thomas and Terry Porter have in common? They didn’t have any experience coaching in the college ranks. Hardaway coached high school and in AAU, and Stackhouse had a summer program, but it’s still not the same as spending that time in the college ranks.

“They don’t go through the process of learning to become a college coach,” Hurley said of those who take over without any college coaching experience. “They just jump right into the fire. I had three years as an assistant to learn the rules, recruiting, and how to run a program. You bring guys in that don’t have that experience, it’s an adjustment.”

“A lot of the guys that haven’t had success didn’t have much college coaching experience, if at all,” Williams told me.

College coaching experience doesn’t always equate to success, but it definitely helps.

Many of those who have been the most successful include Stoudamire, Skinner, Ollie, Romar, Drew, Krystkowiak and Hurley. They all paid their dues as college assistants after their playing careers concluded, and were among the most successful names of the group.

There are outliers, guys like Howard and Hoiberg. But again, both hired a strong staff.

Stoudamire, who left his head gig at Pacific this past season to join his long-time friend, Ime Udoka, on the Boston Celtics’ staff, had an interesting take regarding former NBA players coaching in the college ranks.

“The thing that made many of us successful was our ego,” Stoudamire said. “As coaches, our ego can really hurt us.

“As top-tier athletes, one of our biggest weaknesses and our biggest strengths is our ego,” he added. “You’ve got to put that aside to be a successful college coach.”

Stoudamire said that recruits don’t want to hear about what he did in the NBA, the fact that he was a lottery pick and the NBA’s Rookie of the Year and made almost $100 million in the league.

“The best guys don’t talk about when they played,” he said. “The key is building relationships. These kids want to know how you’re going to help them. You can’t make it about you, and too many of us do. Our ego drives us as players, but you can’t do that as a coach.”

Hurley revealed a similar sentiment.

“Some guys don’t know what it feels like to be the 12th man on a team. I was a really good college player, but it didn’t work out in the NBA for me,” Hurley told me. “I had a balanced framework. Some guys never experienced what I did and don’t know what the eighth to the 12th man on the roster feels.”

Stoudamire also said he’s ready for a power conference job now, as his time in the WCC at Pacific prepared him for all that comes along with a big-time coaching position.

“I would have gotten fired in five years,” Stoudamire admitted. “I didn’t know what I was doing.”

LORENZO ROMAR, PEPPERDINE – Romar played two seasons at Cerritos College, and two at Washington before being drafted in the seventh round in 1980. He played 291 NBA games for the Warriors, Bucks and Pistons before playing and coaching Athletes in Action. Romar was on Jim Harrick’s UCLA staff as an assistant from 1992-96 before being hired as the head coach at Pepperdine. After a three-year stint in Malibu, he left and went to a tourney at Saint Louis before being hired at his alma mater, where he took Washington to three Sweet 16’s and six NCAA Tournaments in 15 seasons. He’s now on his second stint at Pepperdine.

NBA Career: 5 seasons, 291 games, 5.9 ppg
Record at Pepperdine, Part 1: 42-44 (three seasons), 22-20 WCC
Record at Saint Louis: 51-44 (three seasons), 24-24 C-USA, 1 NCAA Tournament appearance
Record at Washington: 298-196 (15 seasons), 143-127 Pac-12, 6 NCAA Tournament appearances
Record at Pepperdine, Part II: 54-64 (fourth season), 22-33 WCC
Grade: B+

JUWAN HOWARD, MICHIGAN – The former Fab 5 member spent nearly two decades in the NBA as a player, earning around $150 million before becoming an assistant coach with the Miami Heat from 2013-19. Howard took over his alma mater after John Beilein left for the NBA in 2019, and went 19-12 and 10-10 in Big Ten play in his first season. The Wolverines were terrific in his second season at the helm, winning the Big Ten regular-season title and advancing to the Elite Eight. This season has been rough thus far, with recent losses to Minnesota and UCF. While the Wolverines have struggled this season, Howard is recruiting at a high level and has had enough overall success to warrant a quality grade.

NBA Career: 19 seasons: 1,208 games, 13.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg
Record: 54-26 (third season), 30-18 Big Ten, 1 NCAA Tournament appearance
Grade: B+

BRYCE DREW, GRAND CANYON – Drew logged 243 NBA games from 1998-2004 with the Rockets, Bulls and Hornets before joining his dad’s staff at Valpo as an assistant from 2005-11. He took over for Homer Drew in 2011 and went to a pair of NCAA tourneys in five seasons before being hired at Vanderbilt in 2016. He took Vandy to the tourney in his first season, but was fired two years later after going 0-18 in the SEC. Now he’s been terrific again in his brief time at GCU, taking the program to its first-ever NCAA tourney last season and jumping out to a hot start this year.

NBA Career: 6 seasons, 243 games, 4.4 ppg
Record at Valparaiso: 124-49 (five seasons), 65-19 Horizon League, 2 NCAA Tournament appearances
Record at Vanderbilt: 40-59 (three seasons), 16-38 SEC, 1 NCAA Tournament appearance
Record at Grand Canyon: 33-12 (second season), 16-6 WAC, 1 NCAA Tournament appearance
Grade: B

FRED HOIBERG, NEBRASKA – Hoiberg starred at Iowa State in the early 1990s, and then spent a decade playing for the Pacers, Bulls and T-Wolves. After retiring due to health issues, Hoiberg was in the Timberwolves’ front office before being hired by his alma mater in 2010. The Mayor was 115-56 in five seasons and took the Cyclones to the NCAA tourney in each of his last four years before taking the Chicago Bulls’ head job in 2015. After being fired by the Bulls in 2018, he returned to the college game as the head coach at Nebraska a year later. However, Hoiberg 2.0 in Lincoln hasn’t exactly been a repeat performance. He won a total of 14 games in his first two seasons with the Cornhuskers and was 5-34 in Big Ten play, and the team is 0-12 in conference action this year.

NBA Career: 10 seasons, 541 games, 5.4 ppg
Record at Iowa State: 115-56 (five seasons), 49-39 in Big 12, 4 NCAA Tournament appearances
Record at Nebraska: 20-62 (third season), 5-46 in Big Ten
Grade: B

BOBBY HURLEY, ARIZONA STATE – Hurley was the starting point guard on Duke’s national title teams in 1991 and 1992 before being selected with the seventh pick in the 1993 NBA Draft. Hurley was in a horrific car accident early in his NBA career, and wound up playing five years and 269 games in the league. Hurley got into college coaching when he joined his younger brother, Dan, as an assistant at Wagner in 2010. Bobby spent two years at Wagner, then one as an assistant at URI before being hired as the head coach at Buffalo in 2013, where he went to an NCAA tourney in 2015, and was later hired by Arizona State. He’s struggled the last couple years, but did take the Sun Devils to the NCAA Tournament twice and was set to go to a third before the tourney was shut down in 2020. ASU had gone to three tourneys in the past 20 seasons prior to Hurley’s arrival.

NBA Career: 5 seasons, 269 games, 3.8 ppg, 3.3 apg
Record at Buffalo: 42-20 (two seasons), 25-11 in the MAC, 1 NCAA Tournament appearance
Record at Arizona State: 111-97 (seventh season), 53-65 Pac-12, 2 NCAA Tournament appearances
Grade: B

MARK MADSEN, UTAH VALLEY – The Mad Dog was a late first-round pick out of Stanford in 2000 and played on the Lakers’ title teams in 2001 and 2002. He spent nearly a decade in the NBA and coached with the Lakers from 2013-19 before he was hired by Utah Valley. Madsen has 15 wins already this season, compared to 11 apiece in his first two years in Orem.

NBA Career: 9 Seasons, 453 games, 2.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg
Record: 37-37 (third season), 20-18 WAC
Grade: B-

DARRELL WALKER, LITTLE ROCK – Walker played three seasons at Arkansas and was drafted 12th overall in 1983. He spent a decade in the league, and then was in the NBA as an assistant for more than a decade before taking the Division II Clark Atlanta head job in 2016. He was hired at Little Rock in 2018 and won the regular-season title in the Sun Belt in 2020.

NBA Career: 10 seasons, 720 games, 8.9 ppg, 4.6 apg
Record: 49-59 (fourth season), 29-35 Sun Belt
Grade: B-

JIM LES, UC DAVIS – Les was a third-round pick out of Bradley in 1986 and spent seven years in the NBA before getting into coaching. Les was hired by his alma mater in 2002 and took the Braves to the Sweet 16 in 2006, but was let go five years later following a 12-20 campaign in 2011. Les was almost immediately hired at UC Davis and has done a solid job in the Big West, going to an NCAA tourney in 2017 and a pair of NIT’s in 2015 and 2018.

NBA Career: 7 seasons, 321 games, 3.8 ppg
Record at Bradley: 154-140 (nine seasons), 74-88 Missouri Valley
Record at UC Davis: 154-168 (11th season), 85-80 Big West
Grade: C+

JOHNNY DAWKINS, UCF – Dawkins played at Duke from 1982-86, was drafted 10th by the Spurs and played nearly a decade in the NBA with San Antonio, the 76ers and the Pistons. He joined Coach K’s staff in 1998, was an assistant for a decade and then got the head job at Stanford — where he went to one NCAA tourney in eight years in Palo Alto. After being let go in 2016, he was able to land on his feet right away, getting hired by UCF.

NBA Career: 9 seasons, 541 games, 11.1 ppg, 5.5 apg
Record at Stanford: 156-115 (eight seasons), 66-78 Pac-12, 1 NCAA Tournament appearance
Record at UCF: 108-68 (sixth season), 54-48 AAC, 1 NCAA Tournament appearance
Grade: C+

REGGIE THEUS, BETHUNE-COOKMAN – Theus was a star at UNLV in the mid-1970s and was a two-time NBA All-Star in his 13-year career. Theus got his first head D-I job at New Mexico State in 2005 after a couple years as Rick Pitino’s assistant at Louisville. He led the Aggies to the NCAA tourney in his second season and was then hired by the Maloof brothers to be the head coach of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. After that brief stint, he had an uneventful four-year tenure at Cal State Northridge that resulted in a total of 53 wins. In a baffling move, Theus got another chance this past season as the head coach and athletic director at Bethune-Cookman.

NBA Career: 13 seasons, 1,026 games, 18.5 ppg
Record at New Mexico State: 41-23 (two seasons), 21-11 WAC, 1 NCAA Tournament appearance
Record at Cal State Northridge: 53-105 (four seasons), 26-54 Big West
Record at Bethune-Cookman: 6-17, 4-7 SWAC
Grade: C

STEVE HENSON, UTSA – Henson was selected in the second round of the 1990 draft after spending four years at Kansas State. He played 238 NBA games, and also spent time playing overseas before getting into coaching shortly after retiring in 1999. Henson was an assistant at Illinois, South Florida, UNLV and Oklahoma before being hired to head up UTSA’s program in 2016.

NBA Career: Seven seasons, 238 games, 3.1 ppg
Record: 87-96 (sixth season), 47-53 C-USA
Grade: C

PENNY HARDAWAY, MEMPHIS – Hardaway was the third overall pick in 1993 after starring for Memphis from 1990-93. He was a four-time NBA All-Star before knee injuries had a huge impact on his career. Hardaway coached in high school and summer basketball for a few years before replacing Tubby Smith as the head coach at Memphis in 2018. He has done a tremendous job adding talent with guys like James Wiseman, Precious Achiuwa, Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren, but it hasn’t translated into enough wins or an NCAA tourney appearance. This season has been the most disappointing for Tigers fans, because the league is wide open, and Hardaway has a combination of veterans and talented frosh that should have been a lock to get to the tournament. Now it’ll almost certainly need to be the Patrick Ewing route — winning the league tourney for an automatic berth.

NBA Career: 14 seasons: 704 games, 15.2 ppg, 5.0 apg
Record: 75-40 (fourth season), 38-23 AAC
Grade: C

PATRICK EWING, GEORGETOWN – The former Georgetown star and Basketball Hall of Famer was a veteran NBA assistant before being tabbed to take over his alma mater in 2017. Ewing is in his fifth season and it hasn’t gone well (except for a few days last March in the Big East tourney). He’s more than 20 games under .500 in league play and has finished eighth in conference play in three of the past four seasons. Georgetown is considered one of the top 25 or so programs in the country, but Ewing has been underwhelming thus far in his coaching stint.

NBA Career: Hall of Famer; 17 seasons, 1,183 games, 21.0 ppg, 9.8 rpg
Record: 68-74 (fifth season), 26-54 Big East, 1 NCAA Tournament appearance
Grade: C-

DANNY MANNING, MARYLAND (INTERIM) – The former No. 1 overall pick and Kansas star played 15 seasons in the NBA, but knee injuries limited his effectiveness. After retiring in 2003, Manning was the director of student-athlete development at KU and then became an assistant for Bill Self. Manning was hired as the head coach at Tulsa in 2012, where he was 38-29 with an NCAA tourney appearance in two seasons before being hired at Wake Forest. Manning was fired after six years and an ACC mark that was 50 games under the .500 mark. Now he’s the interim head coach at Maryland after Mark Turgeon left early in the season.

NBA Career: 15 seasons, 883 games, 14.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg
Record at Tulsa: 38-29 (two seasons), 21-11 C-USA, 1 NCAA Tournament appearance
Record at Wake Forest: 78-111 (six seasons), 30-80 ACC, 1 NCAA Tournament appearance
Grade: C-

AARON MCKIE, TEMPLE – The former Temple star spent 13 seasons in the NBA after being taken by Portland with the 17th pick of the 1994 NBA Draft. McKie was an NBA assistant with the Sixers from 2008-13, then joined Fran Dunphy’s staff at Temple from 2014-19 before being tabbed to replace Dunphy in 2019. The Owls were 14-17 in his first season with a 10th-place finish in the AAC, then went 5-11 and 4-10 in league play a year ago.

NBA Career: 13 seasons, 793 games, 7.4 ppg
Record: 32-36 (third season), 16-26 AAC
Grade: C-

LINDSEY HUNTER, MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE – Hunter played at Jackson State for three seasons and was a lottery pick before spending nearly two decades in the NBA. He spent one season (2016-17) on Nate Oats’ staff at Buffalo before being hired as the head coach at Mississippi Valley State in 2019. The program has traditionally been bad, but Hunter has won even less than his predecessors.

NBA Career: 17 seasons, 937 games, 8.5 ppg
Record: 6-69 (third season), 6-38 SWAC
Grade: C-

JUAN DIXON, COPPIN STATE – He’s the all-time leading scorer in Maryland history, led the Terps to a national title, was drafted 17th overall in 2002 and spent time in the NBA and also overseas. After retiring, he was a special assistant at his alma mater for a few years, and was then hired as the head coach of the District of Columbia women’s team in 2016-17 before being brought on as Coppin State’s head coach in 2017.

NBA Career: 7 seasons, 436 games, 8.4 ppg
Record: 38-102 (fifth season), 31-36 MEAC
Grade: C-

JERRY STACKHOUSE, VANDERBILT – The former UNC standout and long-time NBA player spent a few years as an assistant in the NBA and also as the head coach of the Toronto Raptors’ G League team before being tabbed to replace Bryce Drew at Vandy in 2019 by Malcolm Turner, the former G League president who lasted a year as the AD at Vanderbilt. Stackhouse took over a program that went winless in SEC play the previous season, but also inherited a team that had Aaron Nesmith, Saben Lee and Dylan Disu. Stackhouse finished 14th and 13th in the SEC in his first two seasons as the head coach.

NBA Career: 18 seasons, 970 games, 16.9 ppg
Record: 33-48 (third season), 11-35 SEC
Grade: D+

HUBERT DAVIS, NORTH CAROLINA – Davis played in Chapel Hill from 1988-92, was drafted 20th by the Knicks and played a dozen years in the NBA. He worked for ESPN before being hired by Roy Williams as an assistant in 2012, and was then hand-picked by Williams to be his successor this past offseason. It’s obviously far too soon to evaluate Davis, but most expect more out of this North Carolina team and program than the Tar Heels have delivered thus far this season. They were embarrassed by Tennessee, Kentucky, Miami and Wake Forest, and their best win has come against a mediocre Michigan squad.

NBA Career: 12 seasons, 685 games, 8.2 ppg
Record: 17-7 (first season), 9-4 ACC

MIKE WOODSON, INDIANA – Woodson played for Bob Knight back in the late 1970s, then spent more than a decade in the NBA before coaching in the league from 1996-2021. After swinging and missing on Brad Stevens and a couple other big names, Indiana decided to bring the 63-year-old Woodson back to Bloomington. It’s too early to tell whether Woodson was the right hire.

NBA Career: 11 seasons, 786 games, 14.0 ppg
Record: 16-7 (first season), 7-6 Big Ten

SPEEDY CLAXTON, HOFSTRA – The former point guard starred at Hofstra under Jay Wright and was a first-round pick in 2000. He played more than 300 NBA games, then worked briefly as an NBA scout before becoming an assistant at his alma mater in 2013. Claxton was elevated to head coach this past offseason and has done a terrific job thus far in his first season at the helm.

NBA Career: 6 seasons, 334 games, 9.3 ppg, 4.3 apg
Record: 15-9 (first season), 7-4 CAA

MO WILLIAMS, ALABAMA STATE – Williams played at Alabama from 2001-03, and then played 13 seasons in the NBA. After a brief stint as an assistant at Cal State Northridge (2018-20), Williams was hired to lead the Alabama State program in 2020. This is a Hornets program that won seven SWAC games in 2019-20 and has had league success in the past, going 12-6 in 2013-14 and 14-4 in 2014-15 under Lewis Jackson.

NBA Career: 13 seasons, 818 games, 13.2 ppg, 4.9 apg
Record: 11-31 (second season), 9-20 SWAC

AL SKINNER – Skinner played at UMass, was selected in the ninth round in 1974 and spent six years in the league before becoming a college assistant at Marist. He was then an assistant at URI before getting the head job in 1988, and spent nearly a decade there before taking over at BC — where he went to seven NCAA Tournaments in 13 years. He finished his coaching career with a forgettable stint at Kennesaw State.

NBA Career: 6 seasons, 337 games, 9.1 ppg
Record at URI: 138-126 (9 seasons), 72-76 A-10, 2 NCAA Tournament appearances
Record at Boston College: 247-165 (13 seasons), 66-66 Big East, 40-40 (ACC), 7 NCAA Tournament appearances
Record at Kennesaw State: 41-84 (4 seasons), 23-35 ASUN
Grade: B+

KEVIN OLLIE, UCONN – This is one of the most difficult coaches to evaluate. Ollie played at UConn from 1991-95, bounced around and lasted 13 years in the NBA before joining Jim Calhoun’s staff in 2010. After two seasons as an assistant, he replaced Calhoun in 2012 and won a national title in his second season at the helm. But Ollie was fired four years later after the Huskies finished with a sub-.500 record in his final two seasons.

NBA Career: 13 seasons, 662 games, 3.8 ppg
Record: 127-79 (six seasons), 59-49 Big East/AAC, 2 NCAA Tournament appearances, 1 national title
Grade: B

LARRY KRYSTKOWIAK – The former Montana big man was picked by the Bulls in 1986, played nine seasons in the league before becoming an assistant at his alma mater and also at ODU. He was tabbed the head coach with the Grizz in 2004, made the NCAA Tournament in both of his seasons at the helm before joining the Bucks as an NBA assistant. He was the head coach of the Bucks in 2007-08, but was fired. Larry K. was hired by the Utes in 2011 and did a solid job in his decade coaching Utah, going to the NCAA tourney twice and the NIT three times in 10 seasons.

NBA Career: 9 seasons, 420 games, 8.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg
Record at Montana: 42-20 (two seasons), 19-9 Big Sky, 2 NCAA Tournament appearances
Record at Utah: 183-139 (10 seasons), 91-90 Pac-12, 2 NCAA Tournament appearances
Grade: B

DAMON STOUDAMIRE, PACIFIC – The former Arizona star and lottery pick retired in 2008 and then worked as the director of player development at Rice. Stoudamire also spent time as an assistant at Memphis and Arizona before being hired as the coach of the Pacific Tigers, where he won 23 games and was 11-5 in the WCC in 2019-20. He left Pacific this past offseason for an assistant spot with the Boston Celtics.

NBA Career: 13 seasons, 878 games, 13.4 ppg, 6.1 apg
Record: 71-77 (five seasons), 34-47 WCC
Grade: B

DAN MAJERLE, GRAND CANYON – Thunder Dan was a first-round pick coming out of Central Michigan, and became an All-Star with the Phoenix Suns. Majerle was an assistant coach for the Suns from 2008 to 2013 before being hired by Grand Canyon in 2013. He didn’t take GCU to the big dance, but did win a ton of games in the WAC in his seven years leading the program.

NBA Career: 14 seasons, 955 games, 11.4 ppg
Record: 136-89 (seven seasons), 67-36 WAC
Grade: B-

PAUL WESTPHAL, PEPPERDINE – Westphal played at USC, and then spent more than a decade in the NBA before getting into coaching. He coached at Grand Canyon, then as an assistant and head coach in the NBA and went to Pepperdine after being let go by Seattle in 2000. Westphal went to one NCAA tourney in 2002 with the Waves — which also happens to be the last time the program has gone dancing.

NBA Career: 12 seasons, 823 games, 15.6 ppg
Record: 76-72 (five seasons), 38-32 WCC, 1 NCAA Tournament appearance
Grade: B-

AVERY JOHNSON, ALABAMA – Johnson went undrafted out of Southern University, and played 16 seasons in the NBA — most notably on a Spurs team that won the NBA title in 1999. Johnson got into coaching in 2004 as an assistant with the Mavs, had head coaching stints with the Mavs (2005-08) and Nets (2010-12). Johnson worked for ESPN before being hired to lead the Alabama program in 2015, where he had a trio of NIT appearances and one NCAA tourney in 2018. He recruited well, getting guys like Collin Sexton, Kira Lewis, Herb Jones and John Petty, but it didn’t translate into enough wins and he was fired after four seasons.

NBA Career: 16 seasons, 1,054 games, 8.4 ppg, 5.5 apg
Record: 75-62 (four seasons), 34-38 SEC, 1 NCAA Tournament appearance
Grade: C+

DONYELL MARSHALL, CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE – The former UConn star in the early 1990s was drafted fourth overall and played 15 years in the league. After retiring in 2009, Marshall paid his dues as an assistant at George Washington, Rider and Buffalo before being hired at CCSU in 2016. But Marshall was let go after five seasons and a total of 40 wins.

NBA Career: 15 seasons, 957 games, 11.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg
Record: 40-104 (five seasons), 24-66 NEC
Grade: C-

CORLISS WILLIAMSON, CENTRAL ARKANSAS – Big Nasty starred at Arkansas in the mid-1990s and spent a dozen years in the NBA before getting into coaching as an assistant and later the head coach at Arkansas Baptist. He was then hired at Central Arkansas, but was 26-62 in three seasons before being replaced in 2013.

NBA Career: 12 seasons, 822 games, 11.1 ppg
Record: 26-62 (three seasons), 11-39 Southland
Grade: C-

SCOTT PADGETT, SAMFORD – The former Kentucky forward and first-round NBA draft pick spent eight years in the NBA before becoming a college assistant at Manhattan and Samford. Padgett was elevated to Samford head coach in 2014, spent six seasons at the helm and did get the Bulldogs to the CIT in 2017. However, he won just 10 games in two of his final three seasons and was let go in 2020. Padgett is currently an assistant at Manhattan.

NBA Career: 8 seasons, 448 games, 4.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Record: 84-115 (six seasons), 34-74 SoCon
Grade: C-

CLEMON JOHNSON, FLORIDA A&M – The former NBA big man, who was a reserve on the Sixers’ 1983 championship team, was fired by his alma mater in 2014 after his third season at the helm and following a 14-18 campaign with the Rattlers. Johnson came to FAMU after a four-year stint as the head coach at Alaska-Fairbanks.

NBA Career: 10 seasons, 761 games, 5.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg
Record: 32-64 (three seasons), 19-29 MEAC
Grade: C-

MICHAEL CURRY, FAU – Curry played at Georgia Southern and then in the NBA for more than a decade. He was an NBA assistant before being hired by FAU in 2014. It didn’t go well as he won a total of 39 games in four seasons before being fired. Curry is currently on Jerry Stackhouse’s staff at Vandy.

NBA Career: 11 seasons, 667 games, 4.5 ppg
Record: 39-84 (four seasons), 19-53 in C-USA
Grade: C-

BUTCH BEARD – Beard was drafted 10th overall out of Louisville in 1969, and played nearly a decade in the NBA. He was hired as the head coach at Howard in 1990, went to one tourney in four years and was then hired by the New Jersey Nets as their head coach. He lasted two seasons, and was later hired by Morgan State.

NBA Career: 9 seasons, 605 games, 9.3 ppg
Record at Howard: 45-69 (four seasons), 1 NCAA Tournament appearance
Record at Morgan State: 39-105 (five seasons), 32-57 MEAC
Grade: C-

WALTER MCCARTY, EVANSVILLE – The former Kentucky and veteran NBA forward was an assistant coach at Louisville from 2007-10 and with the Pacers (2010-11) and Celtics (2013-18) before he was hired as the head coach at Evansville in 2018. He was fired in his second season at the helm after a school investigation revealed allegations of off-court misconduct. McCarty is currently suing the school.

NBA Career: 10 seasons, 593 games, 5.2 ppg
Record: 20-25 (two seasons), 5-13 Missouri Valley
Grade: D+

MARK PRICE, CHARLOTTE – The former Georgia Tech star point guard and four-time NBA All-Star bounced around for years as an assistant coach — in high school and the NBA before being hired as the head coach of the 49ers in 2015. His stint lasted a little more than two seasons before he was fired with a 30-42 career mark.

NBA Career: 12 seasons, 722 games, 15.2 ppg, 6.7 apg
Record: 30-42 (two-plus seasons), 16-20 C-USA
Grade: D+

CHRIS MULLIN, ST. JOHN’S – Mullin was one of the best college basketball players of all-time, was a five-time NBA All-Star and was a special advisor for the Kings after he retired. He was hired by his alma mater in 2015 to make the Red Storm relevant again — at least in the Big East. Instead, he was out after just four seasons. He got the Johnnies to the First Four in 2019, but was 32 games under .500 in league play in his tenure.

NBA Career: Hall of Famer, 16 seasons, 986 games, 18.2 ppg
Record: 59-73 (four seasons), 20-52 Big East, 1 NCAA Tournament appearance
Grade: D+

ISIAH THOMAS, FIU – The NBA Hall of Famer had been an NBA head coach with the Pacers from 2000 to 2003, and then was the President of Basketball Operations with the New York Knicks and then the head coach of the Knicks. Then-AD Pete Garcia hired Thomas, who won a total of 14 league games in three seasons before being let go.

NBA Career: Hall of Famer, 13 seasons, 979 games, 19.2 ppg, 9.3 apg
Record: 26-65 (three seasons), 14-36 Sun Belt
Grade: D+

EDDIE JORDAN, RUTGERS – Jordan was drafted 33rd overall out of Rutgers in 1977, and played seven seasons in the league. He was hired by his alma mater in 2013 after more than two decades coaching in the NBA, and it didn’t go well. He lasted three seasons and left with a 29-68 overall record, including a grand total of eight conference victories with five coming in his first season when the Scarlet Knights were in the AAC.

NBA Career: 7 seasons, 420 games, 8.1 ppg, 3.8 apg
Record: 29-68 (three seasons), 5-13 in AAC, 3-33 in Big Ten
Grade: D

TERRY PORTER, PORTLAND – Porter was drafted in the first round out of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1985 and became a two-time NBA All-Star with the Portland Trail Blazers. He was an NBA assistant and also head coach with the Bucks and Suns, and took the University of Portland job in 2016. He was with the Pilots for five seasons, and won a total of 22 games his last three with just one coming in WCC play.

NBA Career: 17 seasons, 1,274 games, 12.2 ppg, 5.6 apg
Record: 43-104 (five seasons), 7-70 WCC
Grade: D

SIDNEY MONCRIEF, LITTLE ROCK – Moncrief was the fifth overall pick and a five-time All-Star coming out of Arkansas. He lasted a grand total of one season at Little Rock and finished 4-24 overall in 1999-2000.

NBA Career: 11 seasons, 767 games, 15.6 ppg
Record: 4-24, 1-15 Sun Belt
Grade: D

CLYDE DREXLER, HOUSTON – The Glide was a part of “Phi Slama Jama,” and was one of the greatest NBA players of all-time. He was hired by his alma mater in 1998 to try and bring the program back to national relevance. Instead, Drexler lasted two seasons and won a total of seven league games before deciding it wasn’t working and stepping down.

NBA Career: Hall of Famer, 15 seasons, 1,086 games, 20.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 5.6 apg
Record: 19-39 (two seasons), 7-25 C-USA
Grade: D-

MIKE DUNLEAVY SR., TULANE – This was not a good hire by AD Troy Dannen. Dunleavy was a player in the NBA for about a decade, and was also a longtime NBA head coach, but was hired to coach Tulane in his 60s. It made no sense. In his third and final season, the Green Wave won a total of four games and were 0-18 in league play.

NBA Career: 11 seasons, 438 games, 8.0 ppg
Record: 24-69 (three seasons), 8-46 in AAC
Grade: D-

MORE: College Basketball’s 2021-22 Transfer List