Now that it’s official that Billy Donovan is headed to Oklahoma City to take the Thunder head coaching job, it’s time to take a look at who could replace him. Of course, no one can truly replace him as he has left some incredible shoes to fill — two National Championships, four Final Four appearances, three SEC Coach of the Year awards, four SEC Tournament Championships, six SEC regular season championships, and the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award (in 2010). These are the top five guys that Athletic Director Jeremy Foley should go after now that he has a coaching vacancy to fill:
1.) Archie Miller – Dayton – 90-47 career record
He’s almost exactly like Donovan was when he started coaching in the early 90’s. He brought Dayton to national prominence and did one an amazing coaching jobs this season. He won an NCAA play-in game with a team that featured no player taller than 6’6″. Last year he made it to the Elite Eight before being knocked off by Donovan’s Gator squad. His offense was a high-flying one that averaged 72.2 points a game and finished with a 26-11 record. He’s a young guy — only 36 — and is definitely destined for a bigger school than Dayton and will likely take a similar step up like his brother Sean did going to Arizona. He did sign an extension in March through 2022, but Florida would have no problem buying him out.
2.) Chris Mack – Xavier – 134-71 career record
At 45, he’s a relatively new coach — he’s only been coaching Xavier and in college for five years — but has proven he can go out and get talent at a mid-major. He has taken the Musketeers to three Sweet 16 and hasn’t missed out on postseason play.
3.) Gregg Marshall – Wichita State – 398-159 career record
Marshall turned Wichita State into a powerhouse in Kansas and even beat the Jayhawks in the NCAA Tournament, showing that the school shouldn’t be considered a mid-major anymore. He’s taken guys like Cleanthony Early, Ron Baker, and Fred VanVleet to the Sweet 16 and Final Four during his time at WSU, and he took Winthrop to the NCAA Tourney seven out of the nine years he was the coach there. He can develop players and regularly takes low-level recruits to great heights.
4.) Jeff Capel – Duke (Associate head coach) – 175-110
The only non-head coach on this list and he’s only 40. He has been working under Duke’s Coach K since 2011 and has been crucial on the recruiting, bringing in guys like Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, and Quinn Cook. He coached VCU for four years and they won the CAA regular season and conference tournament under him. He can recruit and he’s about due to get another shot at coaching a team on his own after his stints at VCU (2002-06) and Oklahoma (2006-11).
5.) Jay Wright – Villanova 439-237 career record
This is kind of a throw-in, but I always thought it would be interesting to see what Wright could do when he has a chance to recruit better talent with a big name like Florida attached to his name. Wright is already 53 and is very settled in at Villanova, having coached there since 2001. He’s coached current NBA players like Kyle Lowry, Dante Cunningham, and Randy Foye proving he can produce major talent.