There is no doubt that Tom Izzo and Mike Krzyzewski remain among the most highly sought after coaches in college basketball. However, after years of courtship it seems as though NBA teams have finally given up on the prospect of convincing one of those coaches to make the jump to the professional level.
When you take a look at the current landscape in the NBA, there aren’t very many elite coaches. The list is quite short. When you see teams like the Toronto Raptors debating what to do with Duane Casey, you can clearly see they’re thinking the same thing. They probably need to fire Casey and bring in someone better, but who is that coach? Unfortunately, Steve Kerr is currently occupied. And so is Gregg Popovich. Teams like the Raptors might want to look at the college basketball ranks to see if they can find someone better.
Izzo and Kryzewski have had a ton of success with their current programs, so it’s no surprise they don’t want to leave. Coach K is particularly attractive as he’s coached the pros at the Summer Olympics and could However, even with those two coaches crossed off the list there are still plenty of capable college coaching candidates that might not be far away from making the move to the NBA. Here is a look at which college coaches area ready to turn pro.
John Calipari, Kentucky Wildcats
Calipari has been in the spotlight each of the last couple of NBA offseasons with teams reportedly making a hard push to lure him away from Kentucky. Calipari seems to be connected to an NBA job every year but he has consistently denied those rumors. It will be very interesting to see if something finally gives this offseason with many experts predicting that Calipari will eventually want another shot at the NBA. There is no doubt the opportunities will be there. The question is whether or not Calipari wants to take one of them or stick with the Wildcats.
Jay Wright, Villanova Wildcats
Wright has been a mainstay on any list of the top candidates to move from college to the NBA over the years. There is no doubt that he is just waiting for the right opportunity. Wright’s small-ball, motion offense is the type of philosophy that seems to match where the NBA is headed and if there is a team that approaches him with a desire to employ his philosophies then there could be a fit. Wright will not want to change much if he moves to the NBA. It will be very interesting to see if an NBA franchise will invest in him in the near future.
Tony Bennett, Virginia Cavaliers
The fact that so many of the top college coaches aren’t interested in making the jump to the NBA means that Bennett’s stock is even higher right now. He has tailored his style to winning in the college ranks but he has experience as a point guard in the NBA and could easily take a more pro-oriented approach. Bennett seems the most likely of the top college coaching candidates to make a jump to the NBA in the near future.
Bill Self, Kansas Jayhawks
Self has done an excellent job at Kansas over the years and like every other name on this list, it will be difficult to convince him to move to the NBA. At the same time, the Jayhawks have won the Big 12 every single year for over a decade. It’s possible that he opts for a greater challenge. Every year his team is at the top of the Big 12 and a competitor for the Final Four. Sometimes these types of coaches want a greater challenge.
There were rumors a couple of years ago that he was in close talks with the Cleveland Cavaliers to take that job as head coach but negotiations broke down and things have been fairly quiet ever since. There is no doubt that Self has the knowledge and presence to coach an NBA team. It might be only a matter of time before he eventually makes the jump to the NBA.
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