The Top Candidates at NC State, Missouri, and LSU

There are several Division I college basketball head coaching jobs open but none will be more scrutinized than those at N.C. State, Missouri, and LSU. All three schools have winning traditions behind them. The Wolfpack, of course, won a national championship in 1983 under legendary head coach Jim Valvano and one in 1974 under Norm Sloan. Since Valvano left the program in 1990, the Wolfpack have made it to the Sweet Sixteen three times, the final two under Mark Gottfried who was fired this season after the program went 15-17. Now, N.C. State, along with LSU and Missouri, will search for coaches that can resurrect their dormant programs.

Gottfried actually had plenty of success early. He took the Wolfpack to the Sweet Sixteen in his first season in 2011-12. They went back to the Sweet Sixteen in 2014-15 but regressed last year going 16-17 before this year’s 15-17. Still, in five seasons Gottfried went 123-86 overall. What sent the long-time head coach packing was the past two seasons in ACC play – 5-13 in 2015-16 and 4-14 this year.

The best bet to replace Gottfried is probably Kevin Keatts, the current head coach at UNC-Wilmington. Keatts just led the Seahawks to their second straight Colonial Athletic Association title and a second straight NCAA bid. In three seasons at UNCW, Keatts is 72-27. He was a Louisville assistant from 2011 to 2014 and has ties to the Carolinas and Virginia. The big thing is Keatts can recruit and keep local talent at home. If it’s not Keatts, there are other possibilities like Butler’s Chris Holtman, who led a resurrection at Gardner-Webb for three seasons or Dayton’s Archie Miller, who played collegiately for the Wolfpack.

Kevin Keatts

What used to be a marquee job at Missouri is now so unattractive that former head coach Frank Haith left the school after three fairly successful seasons. Haith actually went 30-5 in his first season with the Tigers. Now, Missouri is in search of someone to replace Kim Anderson who went a miserable 26-67 in three seasons. The Tigers won a grand total of eight SEC games under Anderson, who led Division II Central Missouri to a national championship in 2014.

With the school looking to restore its glory days of the 1980s, ‘90s, and early 2000s, don’t look for the Tigers to bring in a lower division head coach or even a big-name assistant. Missouri would love to go after someone like Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall, a proven winner who has taken Wichita State to 10 straight NCAA tournaments. Another possibility is Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey. It was Marshall who began the turnaround at Winthrop and Kelsey has continued it winning two straight Big South regular season titles. The Eagles won this season’s conference tournament and will play in the NCAA tournament.

At LSU, Johnny Jones was much like Gottfried at N.C. State in that he had success early. Jones took the Tigers to the NIT in his second year and earned an NCAA bid in Year 3. The program regressed this season though finishing 10-21 overall and just 2-16 in the SEC. Who can return the Tigers program to the Dale Brown era? It could be Northwestern’s Chris Collins. The former Duke assistant coached under Mike Krzyzewski while current LSU AD Joe Alleva was the athletic director for the Blue Devils. Another potential name in the mix at LSU is Baylor head coach Scott Drew whose father was an assistant under the legendary Brown. All Drew has done is take the Bears to three Sweet Sixteens and two Elite Eights since the Tigers fired John Brady in 2008.