First-year College Basketball Coaches Set for Success

First-year College Basketball Coaches: The 2023 college basketball coaching carousel brought about significant changes across major conferences. Notable names like Syracuse, Georgetown, and St. John’s made fresh appointments, signaling a renewed energy for the 2023-24 season. Although the roster management landscape has become more fluid with frequent player transfers, certain coaches seem poised to extract immediate success with their new teams in NCAA basketball picks. Here’s a deeper dive into five such first-year coaches who are set up for an impressive start.

1. Rick Pitino | St. John’s

First-year College Basketball Coaches: Building a New Era

Rick Pitino’s arrival at St. John’s marked a significant turning point for the Red Storm. After a successful stint at Iona, Pitino wasted no time revamping the roster. The departure of significant contributors from the previous season created a void that Pitino was determined to fill.

Joel Soriano, an All-Big East big man, remains the lone holdover from the previous regime. Pitino wasted no time tapping into the transfer market, bringing in former Ivy League stars Jordan Dingle (Penn) and Chris Ledlum (Harvard). Additionally, he reunited with his all-MAAC point guard Daniss Jenkins from Iona. These additions alone significantly bolstered St. John’s prospects.

But the transformation didn’t stop there. Pitino went on to secure the commitment of Zuby Ejiofor, a former top 50 prospect transferring from Kansas with three seasons of eligibility. To add even more firepower, former Pac-12 All-Freshman wing Glenn Taylor Jr. joined the roster after averaging 11.6 points in the Pac-12.

2. Rodney Terry | Texas

Maintaining Momentum

Rodney Terry‘s journey with the Texas Longhorns is somewhat unique in the realm of first-year coaches. While some might debate his inclusion as a first-year coach, his official full-time appointment came after Texas’ impressive run to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.

Terry took over the interim role in December but wasn’t hired for the full-time job until after Texas’ elimination from the Big Dance. This timeline places him in a category of coaches who technically began their tenures before the likes of Pitino, making the Longhorns’ situation even more intriguing.

One advantage of Terry’s prolonged engagement with the program was the ability to retain talent. The returns of key players like Tyrese Hunter, Dylan Disu, and Dillon Mitchell provide Texas with a solid nucleus of experienced players from a team that not only won the Big 12 Tournament but also made the program’s deepest NCAA Tournament run since 2008.

3. Kim English | Providence

Seizing the Opportunity

Amidst all the controversy surrounding Ed Cooley’s departure from Providence to coach Big East rival Georgetown, there was a quiet victor in the coaching transition: the Providence Friars. Kim English took the reins at Providence, and his impact has been felt immediately.

One of the biggest achievements for English was retaining stars Devin Carter and Bryce Hopkins from an NCAA Tournament squad. The ability to preserve the core of a successful team bodes well for the Friars’ prospects in the upcoming season.

English also managed to bring in Josh Oduro, an All-Atlantic 10 first-teamer from George Mason. This addition provided the Friars with a solid nucleus of proven, veteran producers.

A standout among the new additions is Bryce Hopkins, who transferred from Kentucky. He averaged an impressive 15.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists last season, showcasing his potential as a future Big East Player of the Year candidate. The combination of proven talent and emerging stars positions Providence well for a competitive season.

4. Mark Madsen | California

From Despair to Hope

The California Golden Bears have experienced a challenging period in recent years, with Mark Fox posting a disappointing 38-87 record over four seasons. However, the arrival of Mark Madsen as the new head coach brings renewed hope to the program.

Cal’s woes were particularly pronounced in the 2022-23 season, finishing with a dismal 3-29 record. The team ranked No. 270 at KenPom and No. 315 in the NET rankings. These rankings reflected the struggles the program faced in the competitive landscape of college basketball.

Madsen, with his fresh approach and vision, is poised to work what might seem like a miracle in his first season leading the Bears. The incoming transfer class, headlined by No. 29 transfer Fardaws Aimaq, provides a ray of hope.

Aimaq, formerly of Mercer, Utah Valley, and Texas Tech, offers an impressive resume, despite being hampered by injuries in the previous season. The 6-foot-11 center averaged 11.1 points and 7.9 rebounds in limited action with Texas Tech. His reunion with Madsen, with whom he thrived at Utah Valley, promises to bring a significant boost to Cal’s frontcourt.

5. Josh Eilert | West Virginia

Upholding a Legacy

The offseason at West Virginia witnessed a whirlwind of events, with legendary coach Bob Huggins’ well-documented implosion coinciding with the recruitment of the nation’s No. 2 transfer class, as per 247Sports. In the midst of this turbulence, interim coach Josh Eilert emerged as a stabilizing force.

Eilert’s role in keeping the highly regarded transfer class together deserves significant recognition. Key transfers like Kerr Kriisa from Arizona, Jesse Edwards from Syracuse, and RaeQuan Battle from Montana State have found a new home at West Virginia. These players are expected to play pivotal roles in the team’s upcoming campaign.

While the Mountaineers did lose two key pieces from their 2022-23 squad, guard Joe Toussaint (Texas Tech) and center Tre Mitchell (Kentucky), amid the Huggins fiasco, they still have enough pieces to remain relevant in an evolving Big 12.

In conclusion, these first-year coaches, given their experience, strategic acquisitions, and the potential of their new rosters, seem well-positioned to deliver immediate results. As the 2023-24 college basketball season unfolds, it will be intriguing to witness how these coaches navigate the challenges and exploit the opportunities in their quest for success. Their journeys promise to be a compelling narrative in the ever-evolving landscape of college basketball, with a keen eye on Canadian sports betting adding another layer of excitement for fans and enthusiasts.