Three-Point Play: The next three coaches to join Final Four club
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In today's Three-Point-Play, national basketball analyst Corey Evans predicts the next three head coaches to join the Final Four club now that Bruce Pearl, Chris Beard and Tony Bennett earned their way in this season.
1. ANDY ENFIELD
It's easy to compare Andy Enfield to Bruce Pearl. Just like Pearl, Enfield has seen one of his assistant coaches involved in the initial FBI sting in 2017. Both Pearl and Enfield were widely expected to be dismissed as a result, but they have made it through the fire and are better than ever. Pearl is two wins away from a national championship while Enfield heads into the offseason with the second-ranked recruiting class in America.
USC's roster will be stacked with Rivals150 prospects next season. Benny Boatwright, Shaqquan Aaron and Kevin Porter are likely gone but Jonah Matthews, Nick Rakocevic and Elijah Weaver will return and will be supplemented by an infusion of talent including Onyeka Okongwu, Isaiah Mobley and Max Agbonkpolo. If health is on the Trojans' side and they draw the right matchups in March, Enfield could soon find his way into his first Final Four.
2. CHRIS HOLTMANN
While his career arc is not as steep as Chris Beard's over the last five years, Chris Holtmann was the head coach at Gardner-Webb just six years ago. Now, he is leading one of the more nationally recognized programs in the country and has led his last five teams to the NCAA Tournament.
Is Ohio State Final Four-bound in the near future? It's certainly within the Buckeyes' grasp over the next few years thanks in part to the addition of top-35 guard D.J. Carton. He may not be a one-and-done, but he has all of the tools to be a standout in college and should immediately raise Ohio State’s ceiling.
The Buckeyes' Final Four chances will also rely heavily on offseason improvement from Luther Muhammad, Musa Jallow and Kyle Young, and Ohio State also needs to add a serviceable wing this spring. If those tasks are met, the Buckeyes could be a giant surprise next year.
3. MATT PAINTER
Now that Tony Bennett has broken through and made it to the Final Four, Matt Painter could be viewed as the best active coach that has yet to reach college basketball's final weekend.
Painter, much like Bennett, focuses on evaluating prospects that best fit his system and then developing them into productive high-major players. While Painter has had his fair share of recruiting wins (e.g. Caleb Swanigan) there's usually not much wiggle room for what he looks for in a prospective recruit.
The Boilermakers could potentially lose Carsen Edwards to the NBA after this season which would, obviously, hurt their chances of reaching the Final Four next year. Yet, if we’re looking at recent history, Painter's teams are usually not wholly dependent on one specific player. That was put to test in recent months but if Edwards does return, along with the arrival of deeply underrated guard Brandon Newman, and another offseason of development from key returning players, might Painter have his Purdue squad in his first-ever Final Four?