College Basketball
(Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics)

College Basketball 2021-22: Top 5 New Head Coach Hires

The college basketball coaching carousel was certainly active in the 2021 offseason. Here were the five best new head coach hires.

Honorable Mentions

  • Hubert Davis – North Carolina Tar Heels
  • Kim English – George Mason Patriots
  • Pat Kelsey – College of Charleston Cougars
  • Wes Miller – Cincinnati Bearcats

5. Shantay Legans – Portland Pilots

Portland is among the worst basketball programs in the country. The Pilots went 1-42 in the West Coast Conference over the last three seasons and 22-63 overall. They needed a coach who could revitalize their disaster of a program, and Shantay Legans is the guy to do that. In his four years as the head coach at Eastern Washington, the Eagles went 53-20 in the Big Sky and 75-49 overall. Legans led EWU to a regular season title in 2019-2020, a conference tournament title in 2020-21, and the program’s third-ever NCAA Tournament bid in 2021. Anything would be an improvement for Portland, but Legans is a phenomenal hire.

4. Tommy Lloyd – Arizona Wildcats

Arizona almost botched their search for a head coach, but they managed to get a great replacement for Sean Miller. Lloyd was the associate head coach under Mark Few at Gonzaga, with an agreement in place to replace Few if Lloyd was still there when he retired. He was a major part of Gonzaga’s international recruiting, involved in getting commitments from players like Przemek Karnowski, Domantas Sabonis, and Rui Hachimura, among others. His skills in recruiting and player development, plus his experience under one of the best coaches in the country, make Lloyd a great hire for Arizona.

3. Porter Moser – Oklahoma Sooners

Moser built the Loyola-Chicago program from a 7-23 afterthought to a mid-major powerhouse. The Ramblers made it to the Final Four of the 2018 NCAA Tournament and won six tournament games over two appearances under Moser’s watch. Loyola ended last season with a No. 17 national ranking. Porter Moser clearly knows a thing or two about building contenders. He brings that acumen to Oklahoma and a competitive Big 12 conference.

2. Craig Smith – Utah Utes

This is one of my favorite hires of the 2021 offseason. Smith spent the past three seasons in charge of the Utah State basketball program, finishing with an impressive 74-24 record. In his first season with the Aggies, he won the MWC Coach of the Year Award, finished with a No. 25 national ranking, and received a bid for the NCAA Tournament. He followed that up with a conference tournament championship in 2019-20 and another NCAA Tournament appearance in 2020-21. Craig Smith is a proven winner who now gets a bigger opportunity in the Pac-12.

1. Chris Beard – Texas Longhorns

Chris Beard was the best offseason hire in college basketball, and it isn’t particularly close. In his six seasons as a Division I head coach, Beard has never had a losing campaign and has qualified for the NCAA Tournament in four of five possible years (no NCAA Tournament in 2020). In Beard’s five seasons at Texas Tech, the Red Raiders went 112-55, reaching the national title game in 2019. Beard has been landing big-time transfers left and right in his short time with the Longhorns, and he looks to be the coach that can finally take them to national title consideration.

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