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23 in 23: The next wave of college coaches

9, Jan 2023

23 in 23: The next wave of college coaches

With so many great college coaches retiring or getting out of the game altogether, we wondered out loud - Who is part of the next wave of elite college coaches? 

Coach K retired. Roy Williams retired. Jay Wright retired. Jim Boeheim, Tom Izzo, Bill Self, John Calipari and Leonard Hamilton are in the final decade (more than likely) of their careers.

Who is next? 

JUSTIN YOUNG: I love this question and it is something that I have actually had a lot of conversations about with other coaches at the collegiate and pro levels. The college game is going through a facelift with the guys who serve as the images of the sport. With players - especially the great ones - staying for a short period of time and transferring so quickly, the only longstanding people you associate with a program is the head coach. 

That’s the state of the game we are in now. 

So, who are the guys that could be moving into that hallowed group of college coaches? I’ve asked around and I have pencilled out some names for the last couple of months. These are the names that I keep coming back to at the high-major level. 

I’ve put some filters on this topic to make it flow a little easier. Each coach is under the age of 50. Each one is at a high-major and each one looks like he is in the driver's seat for the next decade. 

Nate Oats, Alabama: He’s spent some time at the pro level learning about offenses, digging into the minds of some of the game’s best to make his players the best. I see you Brandon Miller and Noah Clowney. He has Alabama in a position to land great players and develop them into lottery picks. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him build Alabama into a program that resembles what Billy Donovan built when he was a Florida. 

Tommy Lloyd, Arizona: I was working in a coffee shop recently and the group of regular retirees were a table away talking sports. They dove into Arizona basketball. They were locals and regulars of the sports section of the Arizona Republic. I respect their content grind. One of them said, “I think Lute Olsen would love Tommy Lloyd.” I can’t think of a better compliment than that. Seriously. Lloyd has wasted no time righting the ship in Tucson and putting the Wildcats. 

Dennis Gates, Missouri: In a week where we saw Leonard Hamilton win his 600th game of his career, I think it is fitting to have Gates on this list. A long-time aid to one of the game’s absolute GOAT coaches, Gates has shown in a short amount of time that he is the real deal. He was a two-time Horizon League coach of the year and currently has Mizzou back in relevancy at 13-2 on the season with wins over Illinois and Kentucky. Just 42, Gates could be a staple on top coaches lists for years to come. He can coach, recruit and lead. Triple threat. 

Mike Boynton, Oklahoma State: Let’s get this out of the way: Screw you, NCAA. There’s that. The spotlight was put on pause for Boynton with the absolute robbery of his team’s season last year and he’s off to a solid start with the Cowboys this season. Boynton is as honest of a leader as you will find in the game, a proven coach and a smart and self-aware recruiter. Just 40 years old, Oklahoma State’s head man could be a long-term face around Stillwater. I could also see him becoming a hot target for high-major gigs for the next two decades. 
Matt McMahon, LSU: After a dazzling run at Murray State, the new head man at LSU has taken a blown-up program and kept the Bayou Bengals in the conversation this season. The 44-year-old coach can absolutely think the game as a sideline wizard. He’s a proven player developer and recruiter. LSU may have landed a long-term stud at the head coach position. History has proven McMahon will stay at one place for a while to make sure he’s building a winner. LSU has resources, a history and a recruiting area that lends itself to some major threat potential. 

GARRETT TUCKER: JY has already touched on a couple that first came to my head with McMahon and Oats, so I’ll steer clear of those guys. 

How about one of the most intriguing coaches in college basketball (in my opinion) with Todd Golden? He’s at the forefront of the analytics movement in college hoops. I’ll be honest, my guilty pleasure are numbers, so you better believe I’ll read anything that pertains to Golden and his unique stances on probability and percentages. Golden implemented a lot of things that defied conventional thought during his time at San Francisco (a la intentionally fouling before halftime to gain another possession) and it’s going to be seen by a lot more eyes in the Southeastern Conference at Florida. I may look like an idiot when we look back at this in a few years, but I’m excited to watch things unfold in Gainesville.

Another safe choice I like going forward is Kansas State’s Jerome Tang. Sure, this is his first year being a head coach, but he has the Wildcats playing good basketball, and, more importantly, he’s building a program and culture in Manhattan. The word ’culture’ is almost as over-used as ‘elite’ in travel basketball, in my opinion, but Tang is one of the guys that follows it up. He was a pivotal piece of the puzzle for Scott Drew and Baylor and I think he’s going to be a great head coach going forward.

I’ll also throw in an underrated name that has won everywhere he’s been in Niko Medved. In fact, he’s won in three different time zones at Furman, Drake and now Colorado State. He’s bound to get a high-major gig soon and his resume speaks for itself — the guy wins. Watch out for Medved going forward. 

JOSH TEC: The game is in great hands. There are so many great options, so I’ll pull a typical Josh Tec move and give multiple answers. It’s hard to not be enamored with what Tommy Lloyd has done in his two years at Arizona. He’s certainly at the top of my list. 

Another guy that I’m buying a lot of stock in is Pat Kelsey at Charleston. Do I think that he’s going to be the next hall of famer? I don’t know about that, but I do think that he should be in line for a high-major job sooner than later, and I think he’ll be one of the more consistent winners when he gets there. His only losing season was his first one at Winthrop, and he has Charleston off to a great start in year two. He plays an exciting style, and he has the energy to thrive at one of the bigger programs. 

Justin Young

Justin Young has been the editor-in-chief of since 2013. He manages the day-to-day operations on the site and in conjunction with our national and regional events. He was the national basketball editor for and a contributing editor at Yahoo! Sports. Young has been earned numerous awards for his work in sports journalism, including the Georgia Press Association Columnist of the Year. His Justin Young Basketball recruiting service has been in existence since 2002 and worked with over 300 schools from all levels. He is the director of HoopSeen Elite Preview camps and our national Preview camp series.