Coach Candidates: Who was the top recruit in the college basketball coaching carousel in 2022?

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

Some of the biggest jobs in college basketball were officially filled after last season — among them Duke, Maryland, Louisville and Florida, which have each won a national championship in the past two decades.

There were a lot of interesting recruits. But which school did the better to hire?

We asked about 100 college coaches this exact question. What they told us is reflected below.

Who was the top head coaching rookie in 2022?

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

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

Quotes that stood out

On Shaheen Holloway

  • “I’m always for a program that hires an alumnus – especially someone with a proven track record. He loves this place, this community loves him. He has the charisma for the job. Exceptional hiring.
  • “Back at his alma mater, where he is loved and knows the lay of the land, especially when it comes to recruiting. Resume was built on doing more with less – and (he) accomplished that at Saint-Pierre. who will never be done again. Also a very good human being.”

On Sean Miller

  • “I’m a good friend of Travis Steele, and I hate how this turned out, but Sean is tailor-made for Xavier, Cincinnati, Ohio State. Badass, knows the scenery, a very good coach. Loved by the fans and Sometimes all players, schools, fans need a notion of confidence when they step into the arena. He brings that out in people.
  • “Fearless, left for dead and one of the best coaches in the game. Understands the modern CEO/coach/talent acquisition as well as anyone before – and now he has even more room to expand his connections and resources .”

On Kevin Willard

  • “What he’s done at Seton Hall – with the lack of facilities in the context of the old guard schools in the Great East – is incredible. Now he’s got all the whistles and bells, and he’s a tremendous scout. Now he’s got a great scouting area and a place that’s a big name. I think in three years, Maryland will win the Big Ten.
  • “Kevin has proven himself to be a great more-with-less coach who makes no excuses. He finds overlooked talent and makes them better than anyone else in the country. money for football – and the way it develops its players – pay attention.”

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 recruit. He’s set himself up to win big quickly.”
  • “He should be set up to continue the success at Duke. He comes at the right time, where Duke hasn’t won national titles year after year, so expectations aren’t too much of a stretch.”

The take-out sale

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

(Note: Last year, Tommy Lloyd, who led Arizona to the No. 1 seed 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 don’t always turn out the way coaches – or any of us – often think they will. But I digress.)

If you had asked me to predict the winner of this poll before we conducted it, I would have probably told you Jon Scheyer of Duke because he has already outclassed the rest of the country two years in a row. Or maybe I would have chosen Xavier’s Sean Miller or Butler’s Thad Matta because they both have established and proven major-level winning histories.

That said, Shaheen Holloway is a perfectly reasonable voice collector.

It’s not just that he took Saint-Pierre — PEACOCKS! — to the Elite Eight of the 2022 NCAA Tournament after finishing in the top three of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in each of the past three seasons, making Holloway a perceived great rookie. It’s also how he seemed to develop a strong culture within the program, a culture where players seemed to love and respect him so much that they literally attended his introductory press conference at Seton Hall.

That told me something.

It’s impossible to know for certain how a hiring will go – the proof being that Nebraska Fred Hoiberg got more votes than UCLA’s Mick Cronin and Arkansas’ Eric Musselman in this poll three years ago but is still looking for his first 11-win season with the Huskers while Cronin made the Final Four and Musselman made back-to-back Elite Eights. But, for what it’s worth, you can also count me among Holloway’s believers. He has already done (a lot) more with less at Saint-Pierre and flourished on the biggest stage in sport. I suspect he will do great things next at Seton Hall and, based on the results of this poll, many of his colleagues agree.

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