The Early Favorite
Kelvin Sampson - Houston
Almost immediately after Mike Anderson was let go, Kelvin Sampson’s name came up among national media, including Jeff Goodman and Jon Rothstein. Sampson is currently coaching Houston in the Sweet 16 and has previously taken Indiana, Oklahoma, and Washington State to NCAA Tournaments.
Most will remember his time at Indiana ending with a five-year show cause that stemmed from making impermissible phone calls in recruiting. Once that ended he took over at Houston and the time with Hunter Yuracheck overlapped, so the natural connection is there.
The big positive is his long track record of success. It didn’t take long to get winning seasons at Oklahoma, Indiana, and Houston. He’s proven to get a lot out of recruits that were ranked very similar to what Arkansas has now.
The Negatives would be that he’s turning 64 before the next season starts, meaning this isn’t likely a long-term hire. His recruiting numbers at Houston are not the best either, he hasn’t had a recruiting class ranked higher than 4th in the AAC.
Splashy Names That Are Very Unlikely
Fred Hoiberg - Previously with Chicago Bulls/Iowa State
It’s sounding increasingly likely Hoiberg gets back into college coaching this next year. Arkansas could prove to be an attractive job for him, but the leader in the clubhouse for that at the moment is Nebraska.
Thad Matta - Previously with Ohio State
If he’s healthy, he could be the top candidate on the market right now. But there’s very little linking him to Arkansas and he’s got no real ties to the region. He’s reportedly on Alabama’s radar right now.
Chris Beard - Texas Tech
Guys, him using Little Rock as a stepping stone job for one year doesn’t give him deep Arkansas ties. He was a student and grad assistant at Texas, and is probably waiting for that job to open.
Buzz Williams - Virginia Tech
Are you allowed to post a coaching candidates post and not include Buzz? We’re not going to chance it.
Experienced Mid-Major Coaches
Eric Musselman - Nevada
He’s got NBA experience and has raised Nevada up to the level of one of the top mid-major programs of the last three years. He had the Wolfpack in the top-25 all year but with nearly everyone graduating it may be time to take a big money job.
Johnny Dawkins - UCF
Dawkins comes from the Mike Krzyzewski coaching tree and has done a very good job at UCF, winning 24, 19, and 24 games in his three years there. The issue is looking at the eight seasons he spent at Stanford before that. He won 57% of games and made the NCAA Tournament just once.
Up and Coming Mid-Major Coaches
Nate Oats - Buffalo
His name is being brought up a good amount but he signed an extension with Buffalo a couple weeks ago.
Matt McMahon - Murray State
He has a lot of ties to Tennessee, and has gotten Murray State rolling in his four years there. In his last two seasons, the Racers have a record of 53-11 and made the NCAA Tournament each of the two years.
Earl Grant - Charleston
Another young coach who has more than one year of success at Charleston. After a couple years to get things off the ground, the last three seasons he led them to records of 25-10, 26-8, and 24-9 with an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2018.