Candid Coaches: Who was the top mercenary on the college basketball coaching carousel in 2022?

CBS Sports basketball writers Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander surveyed approximately 100 coaches for our annual Candid Coaches series. They surveyed everyone from head coaches at elite programs to assistants at some of the smallest Division I schools. In exchange for complete anonymity, the coaches gave unfiltered honesty on a number of topics. In the coming weeks we will publish the results of the questions asked.

Some of the greatest jobs in college basketball have included: officially filled after last season — including Duke, Maryland, Louisville and Florida, each of which has won national championships in the past two decades.

There were many interesting hires. But which school made the? best labor power?

We asked about 100 college coaches that exact question. What they told us is shown below.

Who was the best head coach in 2022?

1. Shaheen Holloway, Seton Hall 15%
2. Sean Miller, Xavier 13%
3. Kevin Willard, Maryland 12%
4. Jon Scheyer, Duke 10%
T-5 Thad Matta, Butler 9%
T-5. Jerome Tang, State of Kansas 9%
7. Frank Martin, UMass 7%
8. Kenny Payne, Louisville 4%
T-9. Dennis Gates, Missouri 3%
T-9. Chris Jans, state of Mississippi 3%
T-9. Mike White, Georgia 3%
T-12. Fran Dunphy, La Sallea 2%
T-12. Todd Golden, Florida 2%
T-12. Archie Miller, Rhode Island 2%

Others who receive votes: Dan Earl, Chattanooga; Chris Gerlufsen, San Francisco; Jonas Hayes, State of Georgia; Rob Lanier, SME; Bart Lundy, Milwaukee

Quotes that stood out

On Shaheen Holloway

  • “I’m always for a program to hire an alum – especially someone with proven success. He loves that place, that community loves him. He has the charisma for the position. Excellent hire.
  • “Going back to his alma mater, where he is loved and knows the setting of the country, especially recruiting. CV was built to do more with less – and (he) achieved at Saint Peter’s what will never be done again. Also a very good person.”

On Sean Miller

  • “I’m a good friend of Travis Steele and I hate how that happened, but Sean is tailor-made for Xavier, Cincinnati, Ohio. Tough guy, knows the landscape, really good coach. Loved by the fans and community. Sometimes all players, schools and fans need a sense of confidence when they walk into the arena. He brings out that in people.”
  • “Fearless, left for dead and one of the best coaches in the game. Understands today’s CEO/coach/talent acquisition as well as anyone else – and now he has even more room to expand his relationships and resources. “

To Kevin Willard

  • “What he did at Seton Hall — with the lack of facilities in the background of the old guard schools in the East — is incredible. Now he has all the bells and whistles, and he’s a great recruiter. Now he is “has a huge recruiting area and a big name place. I think Maryland will win the Big Ten in three years.”
  • “Kevin has proven that he is a great more-with-less coach who doesn’t look for excuses. He finds talent that is overlooked and makes them as good as anyone in the country. With an impressive campus, a great location and football money — and the way he develops his players — watch out.”

On Jon Scheyer

  • “He’s already locked up back-to-back No. 1 recruiting classes. Anyone who can do that, even in a place like Duke, is a great asset. He’s set himself up to win big quickly.”
  • “He needs to be ready to continue the success at Duke. He’s coming in at the right time, where Duke hasn’t won national titles year after year, so expectations aren’t too over the top.”

the takeaway

The fact that we got 20 different answers to this question is wild and proof that there is no clearly perceived correct answer — unlike last year when Chris Beard from Texas got 61% of the vote.

(Notable: Last year Tommy Lloyd, who led Arizona to a No. 1 place in the NCAA Tournament, and Hubert Davis, who took UNC to the NCAA Tournament title game, both got less than 3% of the vote. So things are unfolding. not always the way the coaches – or any of us – often believe they will unfold. But I digress.)

If you had asked me to predict the winner of this poll before we actually held it, I probably would have told you Duke’s Jon Scheyer, because he’s been recruiting the rest of the country for two years in a row. Or maybe I would have gone with Xavier’s Sean Miller or Butler’s Thad Matta, as they both have a proven track record of winning at the highest level.

That said, Shaheen Holloway is a perfectly reasonable voter booster.

It’s not just that he took Saint Peter’s — THE PEACOCKS! — to the Elite Eight of the 2022 NCAA Tournament after finishing in the top three in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference over the past three seasons, making Holloway an outstanding asset. It’s also the way he seemed to develop a strong culture within the program, one where the players seemed to love and respect him so much that they literally attended his introductory press conference in Seton Hall.

That told me something.

It’s impossible to know definitively how a hire will go – the proof is that Nebraska’s Fred Hoiberg got more votes than UCLA’s Mick Cronin and Arkansas’ Eric Musselman in this poll three years ago but is still looking forward to his first season with 11 wins with the Huskers, while Cronin has been to the Final Four and made Musselman back-to-back Elite Eights. But, for whatever it’s worth, you can also consider me a believer in Holloway. He’s already done (much) more with less at Saint Peter’s and thrived on the sport’s biggest podium. I suspect he’s going to be doing the next big thing at Seton Hall, and based on the results of this poll, many of his colleagues agree.


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