B/R article on CBB Coaches leaving for the NBA
This article was written by Jason King, a well known KU supporter and fan. At least to me he is. His articles seem always to favor the Jayhawks. This one struck me as interesting because in it he primarily quotes Bill Self. Why would he not get quotes from any other major div 1 coach? Is Coach Self already leaning towards the Pro’s? If so, the only places I can see him going to are the Spurs when Pop leaves who knows when and to OKC, already taken by Donovan. No way he goes to a program where he can win right away.
Anyways, its a good read.
Last weekend, once it became obvious that Fred “The Mayor” Hoiberg was ending his term at Iowa State to coach the Chicago Bulls, this question popped into my mind:
Not at Iowa State, where Tim Floyd, Jeff Hornacek, Steve Prohm and current Cyclones assistant T.J. Otzelberger are among the names being floated as potential Hoiberg replacements. More intriguing is identifying the next coach to jump from college to the NBA.
Judging by the recent trend, it’s bound to happen soon.
Former Butler coach Brad Stevens just wrapped up his second season with the Boston Celtics. In April, Billy Donovan left Florida after 19 years for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Even though the 2015 college-to-NBA carousel likely stopped with Chicago’s hiring of Hoiberg, it could certainly start spinning again next spring. Kentucky’s John Calipari, Connecticut’s Kevin Ollie, Kansas’ Bill Self and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo have been mentioned as candidates for various NBA jobs in recent years. It’s only a matter of time before one (or more) of them makes the leap.
What happened to the days of Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams spurning overtures from the Los Angeles Lakers? Will college-lifers soon be a thing of the past?
That may be a stretch, but it’s safe to say the lure of the NBA is prevalent among college coaches like never before. And the reason may have more to do with escaping one level than reaching another.
Sideline veteran Kevin O’Neill said, “Coaching college basketball is harder than it’s ever been.”
O’Neill would know. Along with head coaching stints at Marquette, Northwestern, Tennessee, Arizona and USC, O’Neill also served as the head coach of the Toronto Raptors and has been an assistant with four other NBA teams.
He’s not alone in his opinion that the current culture in college basketball may be causing burnout among some of the game’s brightest coaching stars.
Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press Kansas head coach Bill Self. “Certainly,” said Self, the Kansas Jayhawks head coach, “there are some things about the job today that make it not as fun as what it used to be.”
Indeed, while fans complain about a lack of scoring and poor officiating, the most troubling issues in college basketball these days—the ones that are wearing down some of its coaches—are taking place off the court.
As if dealing with the grind of recruiting, alumni functions and media responsibilities wasn’t enough, the patience of college coaches is now being tested by the one-and-done rule, the growing number of transfers and the increasing presence of social media that has made their jobs more stressful than ever before.
“The NBA has its own set of problems,” O’Neill said, “but they’re all basketball-related. All you do is coach. No matter who you are, unless you’re Gregg Popovich, you rank No. 6 in the organization. It’s the owner, then the GM, then the top three players and then you. In college, you’re the No. 1 person in the program. You’re at the center of every storm. It can wear on people. Some guys just don’t want to deal with it anymore.”
Some coaches believe things began to change in 2006, when the NBA stipulated that players must be a year removed from their senior year of high school before entering the NBA draft.
All of a sudden, players such as Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins—all of whom were good enough to turn pro out of high school—were forced to attend college for a year. The pressure from fans to sign one-and-done-caliber players was intense, and even worse, the layers of people (AAU coaches, high school coaches, relatives, handlers) surrounding those players made recruiting them that much tougher.
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images Former commissioner David Stern with Kevin Durant in 2007. “There are definitely more people wanting to have an impact on a kid’s decision than ever before,” Self said.
Perhaps even more aggravating for coaches is the mentality that the one-and-done tag has created among players who aren’t surefire NBA superstars. Guys who have no business leaving school after one year often do so anyway. Others may leave after two years when they should’ve stayed three or four. The point is that fewer and fewer kids are relishing the college experience because they’re so obsessed with the NBA.
The mentality can be taxing on a coach.
“It used to be that kids picked a school because of the school or the program,” Self said. “I’m not saying that doesn’t exist anymore, but for the guys projected to be in school a short amount of time, they’re picking a school for the opportunity as much as anything else. They want to get in and get out. Twenty years ago, if you recruited a good player, you knew you’d have him a minimum of two years, and maybe even three or four. Now, if they’re a good player, they’re gone after one.”
SHARE TWEET Fred Hoiberg Hired by the Bulls Before Coach K, There Was Cadet Krzyzewski at West Point Coach K vs. Saban: Who’s the Top College Coach? Under the Radar NBA Talent to Watch at Final Four The Highs & Lows of 2015 NCAA Tournament Who Will Win NCAA Basketball Title in 2016? Coach K Deserves Title of G.O.A.T. Young Australian Stud Ready to Take Over CBB Winners, Losers from the Final Four Which Final Four Superstar Should Be No. 1 NBA Pick? Schultz’s Major College Basketball Awards of the Year And if they’re not departing for the NBA, they’re bolting for other schools. According to a list compiled by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, approximately 650 Division I players elected to transfer after the 2014-15 season. A year ago, the number was “in excess of 700.”
“Players want instant gratification,” O’Neill said. "If they come to school as a freshman and aren’t starting or scoring a certain amount of points—if they don’t see their NBA dream coming true—they’re not going to care about the team, and they’re not going to care about sticking around.
“It used to be cool to get a college scholarship,” O’Neill continued. “It used to be a privilege to play at a place like Michigan or Syracuse. Kids don’t dream about getting scholarships anymore. They dream about playing in the NBA. There so many kids that have absolutely no chance of being an NBA player that think they’re good enough to play in the NBA. It’s hurting the college game.”
Thus, instead of spending two or three years developing players and creating team chemistry, coaches—especially the ones from power conferences—deal with increasing amounts of attrition every offseason.
“You basically have to recruit players twice,” Baylor’s Scott Drew said. “Once when they’re in high school to get them to sign, and then a year or two later to get them to stay.”
The roster turnover each year, whether it stems from players transferring or leaving early for the NBA, makes it tough to sustain success. Four of the last nine NCAA champions—Florida in 2007, North Carolina in 2009, Kentucky in 2012 and Connecticut in 2014—failed to reach the NCAA tournament the year after winning the title.
Joe Robbins/Getty Images UConn head coach Kevin Ollie. “Before, when you looked at the Top 10 in the preseason, it was like football,” Self said. “Seven of the teams were going to be there year in, year out. Now it’s not like that. That doesn’t make it bad at all. But it makes success harder to maintain when you have so many different intangibles compared to what you used to have. You don’t have guys for three years in your program anymore. It makes the ability to stay at a very high level consistently harder than it was in the past.”
To be fair, the most recent coaches to jump from college to the NBA haven’t cited the current college culture as the main factor in their decision. Hoiberg played four seasons for the Bulls and even expressed his dream to coach in the NBA during his interview with Iowa State. Stevens and Donovan simply said they wanted a new challenge.
During a recent interview with ESPN.com’s Dana O’Neil, however, Donovan seemed excited about the opportunity to focus on basketball—and only basketball—in his new job with Oklahoma City.
“One thing here, the workload is heavy but it’s different,” Donovan said. “The workload is dealing with the team, making the team better. It’s basketball. You have a chance to coach in the summer league, to go different places and work with your players. It’s a lot of work, but it’s more basketball work.”
Layne Murdoch Jr./Getty Images Former Florida Gators head coach, and current OKC Thunder head man, Billy Donovan. It’s a situation that, at least in part, helped sway Donovan. And if the current climate stays the same in college basketball, it could influence some of his former colleagues, too.
“I’ve got what I consider to be as good of a basketball job as there is in the country at any level,” Self said. “There are still more positives than negatives going on in college basketball. It’s still a great game. But there are definitely some things that need to be addressed to make the game better.”
Jason King covers college sports for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JasonKingBR.
approxinfinity last edited by
Did Self advise Oubre to stay? Anyone know?
Considering Self moving to the NBA… I make a comparison between two outstanding coaches that have been around for a long time. Which legacy does Self want to create for himself?
@drgnslayr Thats the real question isnt it? Coach Self absolutely has the coaching savvy to finish his career equal to or greater than Coach K or LB. Both of them HOF coaches to be sure.
Here is another interesting take on the subject…link…
jaybate 1.0 last edited by jaybate 1.0
You can always tell what the real problem is in these stories, because it is 900 pound gorilla in the corner that is not mentioned.
Declining control over access to talent because of the Big Shoe-Agent Complex.
This declining control over access is a wickedly double edged sword, too.
Before the Big Shoe-Agent Complex began to drive the bus so decisively, head coaches felt they had a huge amount of influence over recruiting. Recruiting ability was something a coach took huge pride in and worked hard to wield to his advantage. He made important hires of assistant coaches that had the salesmanship gift that he had and that made his staff win by attracting more talent. Weak recruiters, or recruiters at schools that were hard sells, resorted to all kinds of cheating. Cheating was as college basketball as apple pie. And it was okay in the good old boy fraternity of coaching, because, well, most everyone had to start out in the backwaters and so had to learn how to bend the rules a little or a lot to get the talent needed to make the climb up through the ranks. And by the time you got to the top,or at least the “university of” programs, well, then you played it closer to the vest, and if you got to an elite program, you basically didn’t have to do anything at all. And at lots of programs the alumni did all the cheating for you and guarantied you had plausible deniability. Basically, no one could stack the deck. It was tough starting out. And if you didn’t win it got tougher and shortly you were out. That was the law of the jungle and it was what made coaching a manly profession. You actually succeeded and failed based on how good of a recruiter you were, and how much you could coach’em up.
But now, coaches stand in one of a couple hand out lines, where the OAD players and the 5 and 4 stars are passed out. Which line you stand in determines how many you get. If you’re in one line, you get stacks of 4-10. If you’re in another line, you get stacks of 1-3. Its a lot easier to win big in the 4-10 stack hand out line, but that’s all. You’re still in a handout line, just like the coach that is handed out 1-3 OADs, 5 stars and 4 stars.
It doesn’t matter anymore how pretty your teeth are. Whether you wear custom suits and rolexes. Your charisma doesn’t matter. If you are in the 4-10 line, you get 4-10. If you are in the 1-3 line you get 1-3. It doesn’t even matter what school you’re at anymore. The Big Shoe-Agent Complex creates stacks where ever they want them. And just as easily as it designates a place a stack, it can take the stack away, if the coach doesn’t win enough.
This is what is so degrading to the coaches.
The coaches used to be lonesome cowboys riding the range, living by their wits, hustling talent, and really only having to worry about alumni factions forming against them and some new chancellor not liking the cut of their jib.
Now, none of that matters in a decisive way anymore.
The alumni and the chancellor know all that matters is what handout line the coach is standing in, and whether or not he is winning enough with the hand-outs, and enabling the OAD branding process sufficiently, to keep getting the prior level of handouts, or maybe even jump up a level of hand outs.
Its is out of everyone’s hands now.
It is a simple game now.
You take the handouts, spend your times beating the bushes for the guys that can develop and supplement the handouts, and you try to squeeze out as many wins as you can while letting the handouts protect the merchandize.
drgnslayr last edited by drgnslayr
As far as coaches moving around…
I think every coach is different. Something unique making them tick to their own watch. Some really like building a legacy around their name… others could care less and only want to compete and be challenged. These two personality types are a major factor in whether a successful coach stays or goes.
Look at the comparison in my previous post. Brown earned the distinction of having won both in D1 and in the NBA. That deserves an asterisk by his name. But if you look at how he is positioned in the NBA and in college ball, he is far from the shelf that Coach K sits on… or many of the top coaching legends of the NBA.
Looking at Brown’s history seems more like a penalty than a privilege. Personally, I can’t imagine trying to coach at all those places for just a few years. To me it looks like mostly a lineup of failures. The inability to execute a plan. Does any franchise or college institution bring in a coach with only a vision of short-term goals? To me… Larry was his own worst enemy. Had he always stayed in the college game I feel sure he would be at the top of the leader board for coaching wins and many of the accomplishments in Coach Ks side would have shifted over to Brown. Brown could have shared the lofty cloud of college coaching with Wooden… Instead, he is known most as a drifter. And every future team that gets him gets to taste just how much fruit he carries… for a while, only a while.
Self makes a huge gamble if he jumps to the league. If he can’t make the adjustment, he’ll be gone from his first NBA job within a few years. Then he goes on the pile of coaching fatalities… then he is stuck at around 60 yrs of age and he has to recreate himself. Find a new way to bring him back to the top. Good luck with that one. It would be very unlikely he could bounce back to the college game and land at another blue blood. Not saying it is impossible… just improbable. More than likely, he would have made a “Jordan-esque” fatal move. Jordan couldn’t make it in baseball… not even close. Then… he couldn’t make it back in the league.
Self should keep an eye on his mentor, Larry Brown. Larry is a basketball guru. No question. Just like Jordan as a basketball player. But I find it unlikely he can drink from the championship well ever again.
As much as I despise Duke… I have to hand it to Coach K for knowing his limitations and being able to keep his game world from going stale. He will be rewarded in the HOF, record books, and in future conversations about D1 for many decades to come… like Wooden. And his main asset was that he stuck to it. He stuck to his methods at ONE job. Coach K IS Duke basketball. And I"m sure his ashes will be sold at auction to one of their illustrious lawyer grads and donated back to the school to BEGIN their basketball legacy… trying, once again, to compare their legacy to the grandfather of basketball, the University of Kansas!
Crimsonorblue22 last edited by
@drgnslayr I think coach brown will indeed win another championship, sitting on the KU bench w/coach Self, where he belongs!
That would certainly be amazing! I vote for that!
ParisHawk last edited by
Jordan couldn’t make it in baseball… not even close. Then… he couldn’t make it back in the league.
Wow! 3 NBA championships after baseball and he couldn’t make it back in the league? What would it have taken?
Yikes… my slip… it was after his second retirement that he couldn’t make it back.
Compared to the top coaches in college and in the NBA, Coach Brown’s record is pretty pedestrian. The only thing that makes his college record above average is his unlike title while coaching KU in 1988. In many ways, the legend of Larry Brown is bigger than the reality.
I see Coach Brown retiring in 2-4 years and other than as an at-large adviser, I just don’t see him actively coaching again; he is almost 75 years old now.
Crimsonorblue22 last edited by
@JayHawkFanToo I agree! Hopefully at ku!
I agree about Brown…
But what if he had stayed in D1 all of those years, and one blue blood program like Kansas?
Do you think his record would still be pretty pedestrian? Surely he would have a benefit from continuity? Surely it had to hurt him to skip around to troubled NBA programs looking for a quick fix? The really successful NBA teams start at the ownership level and work its way down through the management chain and build something quality over a long period of time.
I’m curious what Brown has been chasing all these years? Has he been chasing after something, or running from something? I know the hammer came down at KU after he left…
@drgnslayr Thats my point exactly! No way Coach Self bails for the League unless it was to a top 8 team. I dont think he will go anywhere at all but stranger things have happened.
Coach Williams followed Brown at KU and he built his reputation as KU coach and then he enhanced it at UNC by winning 2 NCs. I am sure Coach Brown’s record would have been better at either level, particularly college, had he stayed put in one place. Since he did not, his record at both levels is fairly pedestrian and now he is pretty much out of time to dramatically improve it.