Ten former players who could join Penny Hardaway, Patrick Ewing and Juwan Howard by coaching their alma maters

Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway was hired as the University of Memphis basketball coach in March 2018, and since that time, the former Tiger great has taken the nation by storm, particularly in the area of recruiting. Under Hardaway, Memphis has the No. 1 recruiting class in the Class of 2019 according to 247 Sports, and includes the nation's No. 1 recruit, local product James Wiseman.

It remains to be seen how the recent success in recruiting, will translate to success on the court for Memphis, but the hiring of Hardaway has already reaped benefits as the Tigers fan base has rallied around one of their former players. 

And the hiring of alumni in college basketball appears to be trending.  

Last month, the University of Michigan hired Juwan Howard to take over for former coach John Beilein who left the Wolverines for the NBA. Other coaches at their alma maters include Patrick Ewing (Georgetown), Matt Painter (Purdue), Anthony Grant (Dayton), LaVall Jordan (Butler), Jamie Dixon (TCU) and LeVelle Moton (NC Central).

Also, Chris Mullin stepped down from his post at St. John's in April. Mullin, who was a four-year starter for St. John's, and No. 7 overall pick in the 1985 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors, notched 21 wins in his final season -- the most for the school since the 1999-2000 season -- and an NCAA Tournament berth.  

The successes and failures -- as well as the tenures of these coaches -- run the gamut, but the most successful are those that have been in the head coaching role with their former schools for a long time.  

Bob Huggins played three seasons for West Virginia, after spending his freshman year at Ohio. Upon graduation, Huggins went right into a graduate assistant role at his alma mater, which led to a near thirty-year coaching career at seven different schools before being named West Virginia's coach in 2007. During his time at the helm of the Mountaineers, Huggins has a 270-151 record.

Syracuse's Jim Boeheim was a walk-on as a freshman for the Orange, where he played for four years. Three years following his graduation, Boeheim was hired as a graduate assistant at Syracuse, where he remained an assistant for seven years, before being named the head coach in 1976. Boeheim has recorded 946 wins at Syracuse (with 101 wins vacated), one national championship and will begin his 44th season as Syracuse's head coach this year.

There is one head coach, who, while playing at the JV level there, is currently the most successful coach to serve at his alma mater: Roy Williams at North Carolina. Williams played on the freshmen team at UNC, and never made it on to Dean Smith's squad there.  As a coach, Williams has more than delivered. Following fifteen years, and four Final Four appearances as the head coach at Kansas, Williams took the head coaching position at his alma mater in 2003 and has won 453 games and three national championships since then.

UNC's Roy Williams has been coach at his alma mater since 2003  USATSI

Those coaches who have found the most success at their alma maters hold one thing in common: longevity. In a world, and sport, filled with the desire for instant gratification, there will often be times filled with challenges. Recruiting success, connection to the school and the fan base, keeping strong assistant coaches, and winning, doesn't always come easily -- or quickly. 

Nevertheless, guys who were not just good, but great college and professional players like Ewing and Hardaway, has brought the idea of hiring former players back to the forefront of our minds. This is not a new phenomena, and quite possibly, it's simply due to the talent level of the newly hired coaches that catches our eye. That said, there seem to be many benefits. 

With that in mind, here is our list of ten basketball coaches who could be the next head coaches at their alma mater.  

A few things to note before diving into this list. This list will be numbered as a top-10 list of current coaches, with the most likely replacements landing at the top of the list. There will be only one potential coach listed for a particular school. If there are multiple coaches that a school could end up hiring, they will be mentioned, but not highlighted. 

Coaches just missing the cut include  Loyola-Chicago head coach Porter Moser (Creighton), Wake Forest head coach Danny Manning (Kansas), Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon (Kansas) and Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts (Oklahoma).

No. 10: Walter McCarty (Kentucky)

Current position: Head coach at Evansville

It's difficult to think that John Calipari will be going anywhere anytime soon, especially after signing a lifetime contract to coach the Wildcats, but if he does, McCarty's name could be quickly mentioned as a possible replacement.  McCarty was a member of Kentucky's 1996 national championship team, and following a solid pro career, McCarty has received some terrific coaching experience.  McCarty has served as an assistant under former coach Rick Pitino at Louisville while also serving as an assistant coach in the NBA. In 2018, McCarty received his first head coaching opportunity at Evansville.  

Walter McCarty enters his scond season as coach of Evansville. USATSI

Plus, who knows what Calipari is going to do? There are always rumblings about his desire to get back to the NBA and prove that he can win at that level.  Opportunities present themselves every year. As McCarty continues to gain experience at Evansville, barring any sort of catastrophe record-wise, his name could be on a short-list to replace Calipari if he were to leave. Plus, McCarty had a significant role in one of the best basketball movies of all-time, "He Got Game." That alone is a resume builder for any future coach.  

Other names considered: Samford coach Scott Padgett 

No. 9: Dan Hurley (Seton Hall)

Current position: Head coach at UConn

It may seem strange to be putting Hurley on this list so soon after he took over at UConn, but he deserves a place here.  Hurley played collegiately at Seton Hall, and had such a "Hurley-like" coaching experience following his playing career, that it just seems right for him to eventually return to South Orange.  It would be a mistake not to mention Hurley's dad, Bob Hurley, who was the coach at St. Anthony's in Jersey City, New Jersey, for 39 years, before the school closed in 2017. Dan Hurley became as assistant for his dad at St. Anthony's immediately upon graduating from Seton Hall, and served in that position for eleven seasons.  After a brief stint as an assistant at Rutgers, Hurley took over the head coaching role at St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, New Jersey, where he served for nine seasons.  

Hurley also was the head coach at Wagner and Rhode Island, before being hired at UConn in 2018.  While Hurley has certainly seen success as a college coach, his roots -- and those of his family--are strongly ensconced in New Jersey.  Plus, Hurley in the Big East just seems right. This one should probably be a bit higher on this list, but with Hurley just taking over at UConn, and current Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard, having such a good run of late, No. 9 seems right. 

No. 8: Nick Van Exel (Cincinnati)

Current position: Assistant coach for Memphis Grizzlies

Van Exel played three years for Bob Huggins at Cincinnati, before a 13-year career in the NBA, most notably for the Los Angeles Lakers (five years) and the Denver Nuggets (four years.)  Ironically, Van Exel has something in common with the most recent hire that filled the head coaching vacancy at his own alma mater, Juwan Howard. They were each a part of a trade in 2002 that sent Howard to Denver and Van Exel to Dallas. It certainly is a small world; maybe even more so when it comes to the coaching community.

Since being hired as an assistant coach at Texas Southern in 2009, Van Exel has only had one year of experience as a head coach, as an NBA D-League coach for the 2015-2016 season.  He has spent one year as a Division I college assistant, and six years as an NBA assistant, as he just completed his third year with the Mavericks. Van Exel has followed a similar path to Howard -- going the NBA assistant route -- with potential head coaching opportunities sure to come his way.  

The roadblock for Van Exel to taking over Cincinnati anytime soon, is with former Bearcat coach Mick Cronin heading to UCLA this year, it hired John Brannen in April. It's likely that Van Exel would need to show some success as a head coach sometime soon anyways, but you can bet that when, and if, the Cincinnati job were to open up again, Van Exel will be on the list of coaches to pursue.

No. 7: Brian Wardle (Marquette)

Current position: Head coach at Bradley

If you don't know this name yet, please take a few minutes and get to know it. Wardle played for the Golden Eagles for four years, from 1997-2001. While many outside of Marquette may not have heard much about him, Wardle was a terrific player, and currently sits seventh on the all-time scoring list at his alma mater.

After graduating and a brief stint in semi-professional leagues, Wardle began his coaching career as an assistant at Marquette. Following seven years as an assistant at Marquette and Wisconsin-Green Bay, he got his first crack at a head coaching position, taking over the Green Bay program in 2010. In 2015, following two straight 20-win seasons at Green Bay, Wardle was hired at Bradley. In four years there, Wardle has increased its win totals from five to 13 to 20, and followed that up with another 20-win season, a Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Championship, and an NCAA Tournament berth this year.  

While it wouldn't be the best fashion decision for Wardle to bring his bright red shoes that have steered him so well at Bradley to Marquette, he has proven himself to be a very good, young, head coach. Many might remember that his Bradley team took Michigan State to the brink in the first round of the NCAA tournament this year. Wardle could play, and now is showing he can coach, too.

No. 6: Mike Miller (Florida)

Current position: Assistant coach at Memphis

Before Butler truly became Butler, they were "Butlered" by the Gators' Miller.  His buzzer-beating floater in the opening-round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament was an epic moment for UF basketball, as well as in the history of March Madness. 

Florida, led by Billy Donovan, would later go on to win two national championships in the decade.  While Miller wasn't a part of those teams, his fingerprints were all over them, as that 2000 Gator team, led by Miller, went all the way to the national championship game, falling to Michigan State. 

Following a 17-year NBA career, highlighted by two NBA championships while with the Miami Heat, Miller began his coaching career as an assistant coach to--none other than Penny Hardaway at Memphis. Just behind Hardaway's ascension, has been the ascension of Miller. Miller has quickly gained notoriety as a top recruiter, as the 2019 recruiting class for Memphis, is the top-ranked class in the country, according to 247 Sports. Miller doesn't have any previous coaching experience at the collegiate or professional level, but that certainly wasn't a deterrent for Hardaway, who found himself in a similar position.

Recruiting is the lifeline of a coach and a program. Miller has proven that he can be one of the best in that realm. The results on the court will now tell the story. If Memphis performs up to the talent-level of their recruits, collects wins, league championships and tournament berths, Miller will be a hot commodity.

No. 5: Jerry Stackhouse (UNC)

Current position: Head coach at Vanderbilt

No surprise that UNC is in a similar position as Duke when thinking about this list.  With such a rich, storied tradition, and history of great players, there are multiple suitors for this spot. There were three finlaists: Hubert Davis (an assistant at UNC), Wes Miller (head coach at UNC Greensboro), and Jerry Stackhouse (head coach at Vanderbilt.) Undoubtedly there are more, but these rise to the top. 

Davis was a four-year player for Dean Smith at UNC and has been an assistant under Roy Williams since 2012. Miller, a walk-on at UNC, was a member of the 2005 championship team coached by Williams, and is the head coach at UNC Greensboro, where he's led them to three-straight 25-win seasons. Finally, Stackhouse -- the biggest name here -- is about to embark on his first year as the head coach of Vanderbilt.

In the end, it's Stackhouse. He doesn't have the college coaching experience that Miller and Davis have, but he has the opportunity. Also, hiring a fan-favorite, who played for Smith, just seems right for UNC. Vanderbilt is a big-time job, and while Stackhouse will need to prove that he can recruit and win, the opportunity is there.  While in limited time as a head coach, Stackhouse has proven that he can win in that role. Outside of two years as an assistant in the NBA, Stackhouse was the head coach for the G League affiliate of the Toronto Raptors for two seasons. He led them to a G League championship, while being named Coach of the Year in 2017. If you're winning championships and awards at this level, one thing is for certain: you can coach the game of basketball.

Jerry Stackhouse is entering his first season as coach at Vanderbilt. USATSI

Williams is only 68 years old and while his health has become an issue as of late, there is not much information that would directly point towards retirement any time soon. That is a good thing for the potential hiring of Stackhouse. It will give him some time to prove that he can recruit and win, which seems inevitable.

Other names considered: UNC Greensboro head coach Wes Miller, UNC assistant coach Hubert Davis and TNT NBA analyst Kenny Smith.

No. 4: Bobby Hurley (Duke)

Current position: Head coach at Arizona State

When you have a coach like Mike Krzyzewski, who is about to embark on his 40th year at them helm of the Duke basketball program, there will be no shortage of names for this list. This holds true, especially when a school has had the success that Duke has had under Coach K. Johnny Dawkins, Tommy Amaker, Steve Wojciechowski and Jeff Capel, are just a few names that one might automatically think of as the future Duke head coach.

No list, however, will be complete without Bobby Hurley.  Yes, this is the second Hurley brother to make this list, and rightfully so. While the 1985-86 team put Duke on the college basketball map, guys like Hurley and Christian Laettner, put the Blue Devils at the forefront of that map.  Hurley led Duke to four Final Fours during his time at Duke, including back-to-back national championships in 1991 and 1992. Hurley brings a very different style of coaching than Duke fans are used to, as the often loud and fiery coach -- while a contrast to Coach K -- emulates himself as a player.

Following two years as an assistant under his brother Dan at Wagner, and one year under his brother at URI, Hurley took over the program at Buffalo, and turned it into an NCAA Tournament team. Hurley took over at Arizona State in 2015, and has reached two straight NCAA Tournaments. It's wild to think about a Duke program without Coach K at the helm, but similarly to Williams at UNC, and Boeheim at Syracuse, there will come a day when there is someone else roaming the sidelines. Duke fans would be in for a wild ride if that person ended up being Hurley.

Other names considered: Pittsburgh head coach Jeff Capel, Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski, Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker and UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins.

No. 3: Rod Strickland (DePaul)

Current position: Working for NBA as the program manager for the G League professional path program

Not many former professional basketball players, let alone college coaches, can say that they had a 17-year NBA career, but Strickland can say just that. Strickland had a terrific four-year stint as a player at DePaul University, as he led the Blue Demons  to four-straight men's NCAA Tournament appearances, and is near the top of many all-time statistical categories for DePaul.  

Following his professional playing career, Strickland held various roles at Memphis, and Kentucky under Calipari, but didn't sniff his first years as an assistant coach until 2014, when he served as an assistant at the South Florida. Strickland held that post until the conclusion of the 2017 season. Strickland is currently working for the NBA, but it's no secret that he wants to be a head coach someday. With Strickland's playing and coaching experience, as well as his experience working under Calipari and his connection to New York City basketball, it would be surprising if he didn't get an opportunity somewhere very soon.  

Strickland to DePaul may need to wait awhile, as current Blue Demons coach Dave Leitao has DePaul trending in the right direction, but it makes a ton of sense. Also, Strickland may need to prove he can be a head coach first, but that didn't hold true for Ewing or Hardaway, so why would things be different for Strickland? When this job opens up, Strickland should deserve a chance.

No. 2: Damon Stoudamire (Arizona)

Current position: Head coach at Pacific 

Of all of the coaches on this list, the fit with Stoudamire to Arizona, might just be the best of all of them. Stoudamire was admired during his four years playing under Hall Of Fame coach Lute Olson. Stoudamire's numbers at Arizona are enough to catch one's attention, as the All-American was a dynamite talent on the court for the Wildcats.

Damon Stoudamire is 39-58 in three seasons as coach at Pacific. USATSI

After being selected with the seventh pick in the 1995 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors, Stoudamire enjoyed a 15-year professional career in the league. Following retirement, Stoudamire immediately entered the coaching world, as his first position was director of player development for Rice. After spending two years as an NBA assistant coach, and five years as a Division I assistant, including three at Memphis, and two at his alma mater, Stoudamire was given his opportunity to take over a program in 2016 when he was hired as head coach at Pacific. 

Stoudamire just completed his third year as the helm at Pacific and while his record is a mere 39-58 during his three years at the helm, it must be noted that he inherited an absolute mess.  Pacific was coming off of an 0-20 season, in which wins were vacated due to an in-depth cheating scandal under the previous regime. In essence, Stoudamire took Pacific from zero to fourteen wins in one year. This will be a huge year for the former Wildcat, as he looks to make a name for himself as a coach.

Other names considered: Los Angeles Lakers assistant Miles Simon 

No. 1: Mike Hopkins (Syracuse)

Current position: Head coach at Washington

This one was a long-time coming -- or so we thought. In 2017, less than two years after Hopkins was named head coach in-waiting by Syracuse, he took the head coaching position at  Washington. Hopkins both played and coached for Syracuse, including 22 years as an assistant under Boeheim.  

Mike Hopkins led Washington to a 27-9 record as the Huskies advanced to the second round in the NCAA Tournament last season. USATSI

Hopkins has won 48 games in two seasons with the Huskies, including an NCAA Tournament berth, and a first-round victory, this past season. Hopkins, who is known as a very strong recruiter, has landed two top-10 recruits in the 2019 class, including Isaiah Stewart, from Rochester, New York, just outside of Syracuse.  

Hopkins still has extremely strong ties to the school, the alumni-base, the fans and certainly the program. Boeheim will turn 75 during this season, and many believe that he could retire when his son Buddy is finished playing. Depending on the health and progress of his son, that could be after in 2022 or 2023. Boeheim will not coach forever and when he decides to call it a career, the first call Syracuse will make will likely be to Hopkins.

Other names considered: Syracuse assistant Gerry McNamara.

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