Evans Seven: Grading the work of recent coaching hires
In this week's Twitter Tuesday, we graded Nate Oats' work since he took over the job at Alabama. Why not go a step further and grade the work of a handful of other coaching hires this spring? In this week’s Evans Seven, we take a look at how some coaches at top programs have fared in the early stages of their new positions.
RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK:
2019 Small forward rankings (Friday)
2019 Power forward rankings (Saturday)
2019 Center rankings (Sunday)
NEBRASKA'S FRED HOIBERG: A+
Fred Hoiberg surprised many by taking the Nebraska job rather than some of the more highly touted positions available. Ever since then, however, he has continually won a number of recruiting battles. Just as he did at Iowa State, he has been relying heavily upon the transfer realm.
FGCU wing Haanif Cheatham and Seattle big Matej Kavas each pledged to the program and both will be immediately eligible to compete in the fall, as will junior college standouts Jervay Green and Cameron Mack. Dalano Banton, a former Rivals150 prospect, should pay dividends down the road once his college clock begins in the fall of 2020. Further work must be done, and the Huskers might need at least three more players this spring, but the Fred Hoiberg era could not have started any better.
TEXAS A&M'S BUZZ WILLIAMS: A
After guiding the Hokies to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments, Buzz Williams returned home and took over a Texas A&M program in need of a facelift. He has done some of the heavy lifting already, securing five commitments that should be the bedrock for future success. Junior college wing Quenton Jackson and shot-making guard Cashius McNeilly should be two of their top producers moving ahead, and the addition of Emanuel Miller should only help bolster the frontcourt depth. Admon Gilder transfered, but by keeping Savion Flagg, TJ Starks and Jay Jay Chandler on campus the Aggies are in a prime spot to contend for a potential postseason bid next season as long as they add one more player to their frontline.
VIRGINIA TECH'S MIKE YOUNG: B+
For Hokies’ fans, it felt as if the world was coming to an end after Williams left. They lost not only their coaches, but practically their entire rotation that made it to the Sweet 16 last season. Since then, Mike Young has hit on a number of marks. First, he hired a strong coaching staff and he then was able to keep Virginia Tech's most talented returner, former four-star wing Landers Nolley, from transferring.
More good news could be ahead, as starting point guard Wabissa Bede might also decide to remain with the program. Wofford transfer Keve Aluma followed Young to Blacksburg, as did former Terriers commit Hunter Cattoor, but Young's biggest win to date occurred when four-star guard Jalen Cone gave his verbal commitment to the program. He will enroll this fall and give the Hokies an infusion of energy and talent at the point of attack.
VANDERBILT'S JERRY STACKHOUSE: B+
The hiring of Jerry Stackhouse came with some pessimism in the industry because of his limited background on the college side and the quick ouster of Bryce Drew. While it may be difficult for Stackhouse to top his predecessor’s recruiting classes, he has made strides in putting together a competitive roster.
Losing Darius Garland and Simi Shittu was to be expected, but keeping Saben Lee and Aaron Nesmith should pay major dividends. They will be aided by the incoming talent of Dylan Disu and Scottie Pippen Jr., two seniors that stuck with their commitments to the prior staff, along with that of Kenyon Martin Jr. Stackhouse also just won the transfer battle for former top 60 recruit DJ Harvey.
Stackhouse will have to win many more battles before the Commodores can be found in the upper crust of the SEC, but his first few weeks on the job have been commendable.
UCLA'S MICK CRONIN: C
Not much has been worth celebrating since a rather inauspicious hiring process that finally ended with the naming of Mick Cronin as the UCLA head coach. Cronin, however, was able to keep Rivals150 Jaime Jacquez committed, which should help because he is the type of player that every winning team needs. Jake Kyman also remained committed, and he should bring a shot-making threat off the bench.
Other than that, the Bruins have been unable to get involved with the handful of top remaining high school prospects and have instead focused their time on the younger classes. The hiring of Darren Savino as Cronin’s lead assistant was a major win. So, while we can't properly grade Cronin right now, there does seem to be a vision for what he is attempting to accomplish.
ST. JOHN'S MIKE ANDERSON: C
Questions remain about what Mike Anderson might accomplish in Queens. The scrutiny received throughout St. Johns’ coaching search and the hiring of Anderson was rather fierce. However, Anderson has never been one to let outside noise affect how he does his job. The program has seen a handful of transfers and decommitments, which could put the program back another year before contending in the Big East.
But it does seem as though Anderson has a long-term vision. Hiring TJ Cleveland, an assistant coach on Anderson’s staff at Arkansas who is highly respected in the business, was Anderson's first win. He then secured three-star guard Jon McGriff, and the Red Storm are also involved for late bloomer Chris Maidoh. But Anderson’s fate will be determined with the 2020 and 2021 classes and whether he can develop relationships with the powers that be in the region.
ARKANSAS' ERIC MUSSELMAN: INCOMPLETE
Eric Musselman finally got his chance to lead a power conference program this spring, and one should expect the Hogs to be very active in the months and years ahead in the transfer and grad-transfer markets.
Little has been done this spring outside of landing UNC-Wilmington transfer and immediately available forward Jeantal Cylla. But then again, few players departed after the season and most of the team's returning talent remains intact, including budding star Isaiah Joe.
Musselman has begun to focus a great deal of attention on the top high school talent in the state and is a strong contender for five-star junior Kyree Walker.