2024 coaching carousel: Grading every high-major college basketball hire so far

On3 imageby:James Fletcher III04/03/24

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The 2024 college basketball coaching carousel is in full swing with firings and hirings across the country. After all the drama of each high-major coaching search, it is time to grade the decisions made by each school.

Whether looking to unseat a sitting head coach, promote a promising assistant or draw in a former coach who sat things out for a while, there are plenty of viable candidates for every job.

The final grades for every college basketball hire does not come until their tenure ends – whether in a matter of years or decades – but initial grades take into account the expected prestige of the job and the current pedigree of the coach.

Take a look at the early grades for every high-major coach hired during the 2024 offseason so far.

DePaul

Out: Tony Stubblefield
In: Chris Holtmann
Grade: B+

DePaul needs a complete overhaul to compete in the Big East, so bringing in a head coach with a track record of bringing a program up to standard in the conference makes a lot of sense. Chris Holtmann never struggled to compete on the recruiting trail and had successful stretches at Ohio State before things went the wrong way.

This job is a tall task, but DePaul did about the best they could hope for here. The promise of NIL backing looms large as the transfer portal opens.

Louisville

Out: Kenny Payne
In: Pat Kelsey
Grade: C-

As the 2023-24 season dragged on, the college basketball world knew Louisville would be making a coaching change. Dozens of top names were floated as potential candidates and were ruled out one by one over the course of several months. Finally, the school lands on Charleston’s Pat Kelsey.

This grade is less of an indictment on Kelsey than the process which led to the hire. The four NCAA Tournament appearances with Winthrop and Charleston are an impressive start, but fans aimed higher than a former Chris Mack assistant when the job opened.

Michigan

Out: Juwan Howard
In: Dusty May
Grade: A

Michigan lands the top coach openly on the market, making this hire worthy of a good grade. Dusty May has plenty to prove in the Big Ten grind but had a long list of athletic directors ready to bet on him succeeding.

Building a roster through the transfer portal as its challenges at Michigan, but early expectations will be for May to immediately content for an NCAA Tournament return.

Ohio State

Out: Chris Holtmann
In: Jake Diebler
Grade: B-

When Ohio State parted ways with Chris Holtmann in February, the expectation was that may top candidates would be considered for the job. However, Jake Diebler stood out in his stint as interim coach and gained enough internal support to receive his chance.

Keeping the roster together will be a major plus for Diebler. The real question that hangs over this hire is the same one that all promotions face: What would the outside options have looked like?

Oklahoma State

Out: Mike Boynton
In: Steve Lutz
Grade: B+

After letting go of Mike Boynton, Oklahoma State looks forward to putting NCAA issues behind them and starting a new era with a fast riser in the college coaching ranks. Steve Lutz comes to the Big 12 with three straight NCAA Tournament appearances at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Western Kentucky. An upset win along the way has helped him make a meteoric rise.

Lutz has spent time under Greg McDermott and Matt Painter before getting his first head coaching job, giving him a degree of pedigree and experience working at the top level of college basketball.

SMU

Out: Rob Lanier
In: Andy Enfield
Grade: B

Hiring Andy Enfield is exactly the type of move SMU wanted to make ahead of the jump into the high-major ranks in the ACC. However, the laundry list of names linked to this job and the disappointing 2023-24 campaign leave questions to be answered.

Enfield has done well on the recruiting trail in the Pac-12 and arrives in another big city for this new job. His ability to sell SMU without the historic pedigree of his last stop will determine his level of success.

Stanford

Out: Jerod Haase
In: Kyle Smith
Grade: B+

Stanford heads to the ACC with a new head coach who overachieved at San Francisco and Washington State. Kyle Smith also brings East Coast experience from his time at Columbia, where he overcame many of the challenges he inherits again.

Academic restrictions are a roadblock for Stanford, making the transfer portal a difficult resource to maximize. Smith’s experience in the Ivy League could prove valuable in navigating it.

Vanderbilt

Out: Jerry Stackhouse
In: Mark Byington
Grade: B-

Vanderbilt got up off the floor in the SEC standings under Jerry Stackhouse but never reached the competitive levels they hoped for. In comes Mark Byington after a successful run with James Madison. Time will tell if he can build on progress.

Byington made the most of his first NCAA Tournament appearance, knocking out Wisconsin. However, he lacks high-major experience even as an assistant, with two stints with Virginia and Virginia Tech which lasted one year each.

Washington

Out: Mike Hopkins
In: Danny Sprinkle
Grade: B

Washington has struggled to compete at the top of the Pac-12, and now makes a move the much more competitive Big Ten. The need for immediate improvement makes Danny Sprinkle the perfect candidate. Just look at his achievements at Utah State.

Questions remain how quickly Sprinkle can build an NCAA Tournament roster in the Big Ten, especially since he has never coached at the high-major level before. However, his one-year stint in the Mountain West was enough evidence to bet on.

West Virginia

Out: Bob Huggins/Josh Eilert
In: Darian DeVries
Grade: A

West Virginia went with an interim coach for the 2023-24 season but struggled from start to finish. The decision might have paid off in the long-term however, with Darian DeVries now coaching the Mountaineers. One of the top mid-major coaches of the past several seasons, he now makes the high-major leap.

Bringing his son Tucker with him would be a good start to the offseason, but his 73.2% career winning percentage and three NCAA Tournament appearances in four seasons should have fans most excited about the future.

Open jobs

One high-major job remain open as the coaching carousel spins, with more jobs to open as names shift locations throughout the cycle. The revolving door of coaches is not done at this point.

Remaining jobs with vacancy to fill: USC

USC has an interview set with Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman, which would set off another round of candidate pools on the radar for a move. Other candidates have also been named from the high-major ranks.