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Top 10 ACC basketball coaches in position for 2024-25: Incoming schools shake up lineup

James Fletcher IIIby:James Fletcher III07/08/24

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The ACC introduces three new members to the conference as the field expands to 18 teams in the 2024-25 season. The new coast-to-coast approach promises to make for an interesting contrast of styles throughout the season.

Louisville appointed Pat Kelcey as the only new face at a returning school, but Stanford added Kyle Smith and SMU added Andy Enfield to aid their transition to the conference.

Ranking the Top 10 coaches in any of the four power conferences is a difficult task heading into any season, as a multitude of factors determine how the coach is viewed in the moment. There are historical markers throughout a coach’s career which cement them in a certain tier, while recent records and recruiting success play a major factor in remaining on top.

Entering the 2024-25 college basketball season, here is a look at how the Top 10 ACC coaches stack up against their peers, a group which has shifted along with conference realignment.

1. Jon Scheyer – Duke

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Scheyer faced a tall task when he took over as head coach at Duke, carrying the weight of Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski as a former player and assistant coach before becoming head coach in waiting during the farewell tour.

Since taking the reins, Scheyer has made his mark, picking up right where his predecessor left off on the recruiting trail, now showcasing his ability to translate that in the transfer portal to complement the roster.

The last step in cementing himself as one of the top coaches in college basketball is to make a national championship run. That is the bar by which the Duke program has been measured over the past three-plus decades now.

2. Hubert Davis – North Carolina

Hubert Davis, North Carolina
Hubert Davis, North Carolina – © Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Hubert Davis also took over from a Hall of Fame coach when Roy Williams stepped away, leaving his long-time assistant to run the program his way.

The Tar Heels have seen ups and downs in recent years, but the ability to put together a talented roster and bring a locker room together is unquestioned. Recruiting has also remained a strong point, and the transfer portal has helped fill the gaps.

Davis has made it deep in the NCAA Tournament, but with some still pointed to the down year which followed, he will need to show off consistency at the top to continue climbing.

3. Steve Forbes – Wake Forest

Steve Forbes Wake Forest
Nov 17, 2023; Charleston, SC, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons head coach Steve Forbes watches the action on the court in the second half against the Towson Tigers at TD Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Forbes has coached at nearly every level of college basketball, and has now brought Wake Forest into the spotlight as a team always in the bubble conversation.

After going 6-16 in his first season, Forbes has finished top five in the ACC two of three seasons but has yet to crack the seal and make it into the NCAA Tournament.

While he has the team on the cusp of success, the drive to push through remains. He has not shied away from defending his players and calling out the selection committee when needed.

4. Tony Bennett – Virginia

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(Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)

Tony Bennett is the most accomplished basketball coach in the ACC this season, boasting a national title with Virginia in the not-too-distant past.

His unique style of play has set Virginia apart from its competitors for better or worse throughout his tenure, as he brings in players who fit the system and develops them each season.

Unfortunately, in the transfer portal era, the development of players has become more complicated. Bennett has adapted by bringing in transfers who plan to stay for multiple seasons, but the pieces did not come together last season.

5. Brad Brownell – Clemson

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Brownell put together a big season in 2023-24, taking Clemson to the Elite Eight to cap off the best season under his leadership.

He has consistently built his team differently than the blue-bloods who run the ACC, but often finds a good balance between frontcourt talent and backcourt production.

The thing which has been inconsistent at times is the outcome, with Brownell’s team moving in and out of the NCAA Tournament conversation over the years without making it twice consecutively.

6. Jim Larranaga – Miami

Miami Coach Jim Larranaga is ready for the challenges ahead
Miami Coach Jim Larranaga is ready for the challenges ahead© Amber Searls

Jim Larranaga is a veteran of the game with a long list of accolades to his name. Even before he arrived at Miami, the 74-year old had carved out a name in college basketball.

Larranaga had the Hurricanes riding high with a Final Four appearance to back up an Elite Eight appearance, but the team failed to reach .500 in the follow-up campaign. The fall put them back in the position they had fallen into the three seasons prior to the success.

Having bounced back before, Larranaga has already proven during his Miami tenure that he has no problem adapting to the everchanging landscape, and promises to come back again.

7. Kevin Keatts – NC State

Kevin Keatts NC State Wolfpack
Apr 6, 2024; Glendale, AZ, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack head coach Kevin Keatts reacts after a play against the Purdue Boilermakers during the first half in the semifinals of the men’s Final Four of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Keatts made a miraculous postseason run with NC State this season, marching through the ACC Tournament on the way to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament behind a late season surge from the veterans of the team.

While they were not projected to have such success, it provides a launching point for the future, along with the NCAA Tournament appearance made the year prior coming off of a down year to forget.

That season is now a distant memory, with focus on building momentum and making another run through the postseason.

8. Andy Enfield – SMU

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Feb 15, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans head coach Andy Enfield watches during the second half against the Utah Utes at Galen Center. Mandatory Credit: Alex Gallardo-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Enfield moves into the ACC as the head coach at SMU after moving on from USC, a move which set off a huge chain reaction across the sport of college basketball.

The program has shown a steadfast commitment to finding immediate success in the new conference, which is why they went after a top name like Enfield. He took USC to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments before a disappointing season plagued by injuries in 2023-24.

Now, with a new team in a new conference, the challenge will be different as he looks to bring together a roster which can compete above the level it ever has.

9. Mike Young – Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech HC Mike Young
Brian Bishop | USA TODAY Sports

Mike Young is another under-the-radar coach who consistently puts a good product on the floor and gets the most from his Virginia Tech roster.

The usage of the transfer portal has helped shape the style of play and provide more consistent results with a pair of NCAA Tournament berths and two NIT invitations to show for it.

The next step for Young would be to make a push deep into March Madness and build momentum around the program moving forward within a conference featuring blue-bloods.

10. Kyle Smith – Stanford

James Snook | USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Smith also takes over a new ACC team, moving from Washington State to Stanford fresh off being named the final Pac-12 Coach of the Year ever.

Smith made his first NCAA Tournament appearance this year, advancing to the Round of 32 with a Washington State team which had not seen that much success since Tony Bennett was in charge.

The challenge Smith faces to turn Stanford into an ACC contender is large given the academic side of things, but as a former Columbia coach and Air Force assistant, he has dealt with restrictions before.

ACC coaches looking to break into Top 10

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Mar 8, 2015; Greensboro, NC, USA; ACC logo during the Championship game at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. Notre Dame wins the ACC Womens’ Basketball Championship 71-58 over Florida State. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Earl Grant – Boston College
Mark Madsen – California
Leonard Hamilton – Florida State
Damon Stoudamire – Georgia Tech
Pat Kelcey – Louisville
Micah Shrewsberry – Notre Dame
Jeff Capel – Pitt
Red Autry – Syracuse

As can be noted just by the list of names remaining in the ACC, the conference has a great depth of coaching talent. From young program builders looking to turn things around to respected veterans who have seen the top of the sport many times, there is no reason to doubt any of these names as a breakout candidate in 2024-25.