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I've Got Five On It: First-year coaches making recruiting waves

Jon Scheyer
Jon Scheyer (USA Today Sports)

The 2023 college basketball season is roughly three months away, and when it tips off in November, a number of programs will showcase a new head coach. Some of said coaches are inspiring optimism before they’ve taken the floor for a game that counts, however.

This week in I Got Five On It,'s Rob Cassidy examines five newly hired head coaches that are making waves on the recruiting trail well before they coach their first game.


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What he inherited: The transition at Duke doesn’t just feel seamless, it seems like one of the smoothest coaching changes in the history of the sport. Scheyer was recruiting at an elite level long before his legendary predecessor coached his final game, and Duke finished last season with more than 30 wins and a run to the Final Four.

How he’s making waves: It’s easy to forget that Scheyer is yet to coach a game in the big chair because of the recruiting rampage he’s been on over the last two cycles. His 2022 haul ranked first nationally and included five-stars Dariq Whitehead, Kyle Filipowski, Dereck Lively and Mark Mitchell. The case that can be made that no head coach in history has had more success prior to coaching his first game.

Expectations are high but, thanks to Scheyer, so too is the talent level in Durham. The momentum hasn’t paused rolling into the 2023 cycle, either, as the Blue Devils already have No. 7 overall prospect Mackenzie Mgbako, five-star Sean Stewart and top-30 prospects Caleb Foster and Jared McCain in the fold for next year’s class.

If Scheyer struggles adjusting to his new role it won’t be because the program’s elite talent level dipped. That much is clear. The new Duke coach is doing essentially whatever he wants on the trail.



LAMONT PARIS, South Carolina

LaMont Paris
LaMont Paris (USA Today Sports Images)

What he inherited: Frank Martin certainly left South Carolina better than he found it, as the 2017 Final Four run raised the program’s profile. The years since then, however, were lean and resulted in Martin's firing. Paris will look to lead the Gamecocks back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since that Final Four appearance and he’ll do so with a roster that includes plenty of question marks. South Carolina has qualified for the NCAA Tournament just once since 2004, so Paris has an uphill battle on his hands.

How he’s making waves: The headline on Paris’ short tenure in Columbia is obvious. The newly hired head coach landed G.G. Jackson, who was once the No. 1 prospect in the 2023 class before reclassifying to 2022. Jackson won’t turn the ship around on his own, obviously, but the jolt of momentum that comes with that kind of recruiting victory can lead to good things. Paris clearly knows what it takes to recruit at the highest level of the sport, which can sometimes be a problem for first-time high-major head coaches.



JEROME TANG, Kansas State

Jerome Tang
Jerome Tang (USA Today Sports Images)

What he inherited: Kansas State has found bursts of success under its last few head coaches. Most recently, Bruce Weber rattled off a conference title and put together a run to the 2018 Elite Eight, so it’s not as though Tang inherited a lemon. Sustaining success for the long-term has been tricky, however, as Weber went 34-58 in his final three seasons and finished ninth, ninth and 10th in the Big 12 over that span.

How he’s making waves: Tang missed on a handful of top targets at the end of the 2022 cycle, but it’s hard to blame him much considering the fact that he was forced to replace a roster that underwent a mass exodus following Weber’s dismissal. Tang has bounced back incredibly well in the 2023 cycle, however, and has landed a pair of four-star prospects the likes of which the program struggled to secure under Weber. The commitments of Rivals150 guards Darrin Ames and RJ Jones are enough to stir up excitement in a fan base that has long been thirsty for recruiting success.




Matt McMahon
Matt McMahon (USA Today Sports Images)

What he inherited: Despite the success of his predecessor, McMahon inherited a mess. LSU lost not only its highly-ranked 2022 recruiting class but also its entire roster following the dismissal of Will Wade, who found himself at the middle of an NCAA rules scandal.

How he’s making waves: Most didn't expect much from McMahon in the early days of his tenure based on the NCAA mess into which he was thrust. The new LSU head coach has spent his short time at the school exceeding expectations, however.

McMahon showed some serious fight when he landed five-star wing Tyrell Ward late in the 2022 cycle and also was able to beat out a number of major programs for four-star Jalen Reed, who was once committed to SEC rival Florida.

The Tigers have a long road back to true national prominence, but McMahon seems to have the program ahead of schedule.




Sean Miller
Sean Miller (USA Today Sports Images)

What he inherited: Miller’s Xavier homecoming comes on the heels of the four-season Travis Steele Era, which failed to produce a single NCAA Tournament appearance despite some bright regular-season moments. The Musketeers were sub-.500 in Big East play a season ago, but managed to win 23 games and an NIT Championship nevertheless. The Musketeers return their leading scorer in 7-footer Jack Nunge and seem like a lock to be ranked in preseason polls.

How he’s making waves: Miller was one of the more intriguing hires of the offseason for multiple reasons. His previous success as Xavier’s head coach is well documented, as Miller was 120-47 in his first stint at the school and made an Elite Eight run in 2008.

It’s clear that his track record at both Xavier and Arizona is resonating with prospects, as Miller recently landed four-star point guard Trey Green over programs such as K-State, LSU, Miami and Virginia. Miller was also able to snag a pair of touted prospects in last year’s class, as both Kam Craft and Desmond Claude ranked inside the top 100 and had long lists of major offers to their names.

The FBI wiretap mess that surrounded Miller in his final days at Arizona grabbed the headlines when Xavier made its hire, but Miller seems to have kept his head down and has the Musketeers trending upward before he coaches game No. 1 of his second stint at the helm.