Five Mid-Major Coaches Who Will Be Top Commodities in April

If the Rhode Island Rams can have a good year in the Atlantic 10 in 2015-16, then head coach Danny Hurley could be a top candidate for a bigger job in the off-season.
If the Rhode Island Rams can have a good year in the Atlantic 10 in 2015-16, then head coach Danny Hurley could be a top candidate for a bigger job in the off-season.

Every off-season provides its own list of unique story lines and changes across the NCAA landscape. From players transferring to new schools, to programs constantly looking for new head coaches, the landscape of NCAA basketball is constantly changing.

The coaching carousel, as it is commonly referred to amongst the basketball community, sees a large number of coaches constantly looking for new jobs year in and year out. While it’s tough to predict how things will play out in the off-season following the 2015-16 season, it’s a safe bet that there will be a few high-profile job openings up for grabs.

In the past few years, power programs are turning their attention to mid-major programs for their new head coaches. This past off-season, Bobby Hurley left his job at Buffalo for Arizona State, capitalizing on leading the Bulls to the NCAA Tournament. Iowa State tabbed former Murray State bench boss Steve Prohm as their new head coach, replacing Fred Hoiberg who made the leap to the NBA.

Mid-major schools have talented coaches who are more than capable of making the leap to the big-time, and power programs are starting to use their “star power” to their advantage.

It’s inevitable that teams will be looking for new coaches for the 2016-17 season. Here are five talented mid-major coaches who will be hot commodities come April.

Gregg Marshall – Wichita State Shockers

It seems that every year, Wichita State is the one team that people focus on when it comes to coaching changes. Each off-season, there is more and more speculation as to whether or not this will be the year that Gregg Marshall leaves the Shockers. Amidst all of the speculations, that has yet to be the case.

Following the 2015-16 season may be the perfect time for Marshall to strongly consider his options.

Star guards Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet will be gone following the 2015-16 season, leading to a bit of a rebuild for the Shockers. Marshall has done a fantastic job with Wichita State in the past few years, turning them into a powerhouse program in the NCAA. To add to that, he makes a ton of money in his current position, so it would take a big offer to get him to change places.

With his stars leaving, and a rebuild on the horizon, this may be the time that we see Gregg Marshall in a new surrounding.

Bryce Drew – Valparaiso Crusaders

Since taking over for his dad, Homer, at Valparaiso four years ago, Bryce Drew has made the Valparaiso Crusaders a consistently strong mid-major team in the Horizon League.

Last season, Drew helped lead the Crusaders to the NCAA Tournament. After his successful season, he was in the mix for some high-profile jobs across the NCAA. In the end, he turned them down to return to Valpo for another season.

With players like Alec Peters and Tevonn Walker back in the mix, it’s not surprising that Drew opted to return. If the 2015-16 season doesn’t end with another NCAA Tournament appearance, we could see Drew on another sideline next season.

Danny Hurley – Rhode Island Rams

After a successful 2014-15 season, Bobby Hurley left Buffalo for the dry heat in Arizona to become the new head coach at Arizona State. Following the 2015-16, his brother Danny Hurley could be on his way to a power conference program.

After struggling in his first two seasons, the Rams made the NIT a season ago, and expectation surrounding the program this season are bigger than ever. The pieces are all in place for the Rams to contend, and even win, the Atlantic 10 title this season, and Hurley could reap the benefits of a strong performance in the off-season.

Russell Turner – UC Irvine Anteaters

Is there anything bad one can say about Russell Turner and the last three years he has spent at UC Irvine? In the past three years alone, Turner and the Anteaters have accumulated an impressive 62 wins, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season, thanks in part to a massive comeback against Hawaii in the Big West final.

Turner has the coaching pedigree that power programs are looking for, as he has been an assistant in the NBA under Mike Montgomery. This past off-season, Turner turned down the George Mason vacancy in the hopes of landing a bigger job down the road.

If the Anteaters put together another big year, the big job that Turner has been waiting for may be right around the corner.

LeVelle Moton – North Carolina Central Eagles

The North Carolina Central Eagles have been one of the country’s best mid-major programs over the past few seasons, and they have head coach LeVelle Moton to thank for a big part of their success.

In the past three seasons, the Eagles have a record of 46 – 2 in MEAC play, giving them one of the best conference records in the entire NCAA over that time period. Moton has turned the Eagles into the power program in the conference, and there are no signs of them slowing down any time soon.

Moton was in consideration for vacant jobs this off-season, like the one at Iowa State, but is back at NCCU for one more go-round. If the Eagles put up another impressive record in MEAC play, it’s a sure bet that teams will come knocking to gauge Moton’s interest level.

– T.B.