Thursday, March 25, Oklahoma Men’s basketball coach, Lon Kruger retired. A true LEGEND, and one of the best coaches and men in college basketball, Coach Kruger is one of three coaches to lead five teams to the NCAA tournament. This announcement sent shock-waves around the sport, and left fans wondering, “Who will replace Coach Kruger at Oklahoma?”
In this article, I will break down my top five favorite candidates I would love to take the reigns of Oklahoma’s Schooner wagon.
1. Carlin Hartman
In the transfer portal era we live in, one would argue that continuity for any basketball team would be huge when it comes to the coaching staff. Hartman is Oklahoma’s assistant coach, and if anyone is deserving of the Job it’s him.
Hartman played a pivotal role in recruiting for Oklahoma. He was the lead recruiter for current Sooners Austin Reaves, Elijah Harkless, Kur Kuath, Anyang Garang, Umoja Gibson & Victor Iwaukor. He’s shown to be a great recruiter, bringing in many of the team’s best players.
Hartman gives the team great recruiting prowess, and continuity at the head coaching position will limit the number of transfers headed out the door if the team went with an outside hire.
For a team that collected FOUR wins over Top-10 ranked teams in January, along with a great showing in the round of 32 against Gonzaga without De’Vion Harmon, promoting Hartman could keep this program going in the right direction.
2. Rick Pitino
On the opposite end of the spectrum of the mild-mannered Lon Kruger is Rick Pitino, but both can do the same thing well. Win.
If we’re basing this list off of a pure coaching track record, Pitino would be at the top. Unfortunately, Pitino has some baggage, which is why he’s at Iona. With a 782-277 career win-loss record & two national championships, would Oklahoma ignore the baggage and potential scrutiny for wins? What about conference championships?
Pitino led Iona to the big dance in just one season, when they were a 9 seeded team in their own conference tournament. It just goes to show you how good of a coach Pitino is & how he doesn’t belong in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
The Big-12 is arguably the best college basketball conference in the nation, a destination Pitino would much rather be in. Can he bring Oklahoma to new heights?
3. Jon Scheyer
Scheyer is a former Duke guard, as he won a national championship as a player in 2010, and in 2015 as an assistant. The most impressive thing Scheyer brings to the table is a truly elite recruiting prowess, as he’s been among the top five in 24/7 sports recruiter rankings for four years running.
A young and exciting coach at the age of just 33 years old, an excellent recruiter, and a man who’s personally been working under coach K’s wing for many years, there are not many things not to like about Scheyer if you’re wanting to usher in a new era.
OU would be getting one of the top assistant coaches in the nation, and Scheyer would be foaming out of the mouth with an opportunity to coach in the Big-12 for his first coaching gig. It’s a win-win in my opinion.
Would Scheyer’s lack of head coaching experience hurt the Sooners, or would this be another great young Lincoln Riley esque hire for Sooners AD Joe Castiglione?
4. Porter Moser
Moser’s popularity has grown immensely here as of late, as in 2018 he led Loyola Chicago to a Final Four and had a Sweet-16 birth this season.
Like Pitino who was earlier mentioned on this list, Moser deserves a bigger and better coaching gig. Oklahoma could sign the hottest coach in the nation, and Moser would get to coach for a power-five school.
The only hiccup to this master plan of mine is Moser moving to, and recruiting out of a whole different region and part of the country. He is originally from Illinois, and having coached at Illinois State before being the head coach at Loyola Chicago, one has to wonder how he will fare with the new recruiting grounds he would have, along with the added competition.
Will Moser follow in Mark Few’s footsteps and create another mid-major monster at Loyola Chicago, or will he move to greener pastures that could be Oklahoma, Texas, or Indiana?
5. Paul Mills
Oral Roberts led by head coach Paul Mills and star Max Abmas shocked the world when they beat 2nd seeded Ohio State in round one of the NCAA tournament. They went on to beat Florida to advance to the Sweet-16 as a 15th seed before losing to 3rd seeded Arkansas by two points.
Being under Scott Drew from 2003 to 2017 at Baylor, Mills would come into Oklahoma knowing the conference inside and out, a distinct edge over most of the coaches on this list.
Mills wouldn’t be the first coach to ride a Sweet-16 run to land with a bigger program, as FGCU’s Andy Enfield became USC’s head coach after his memorable “Dunk City” Sweet-16 run.
Here’s a hypothetical for you fans out there. Say Mills gets hired onto Oklahoma. Max Abmas, a Sophomore guard this year could look to transfer to a bigger school in the power five this off-season, as he looks to prove to NBA scouts he can perform at a much higher level. What better place to go for the heavy transfer rumored Abmas than to play for his head coach Paul Mills at Oklahoma and compete in Big-12 league play? As a Sooner fan, Paul Mills and Max Abmas would be my dream scenario.
- Grant McCasland
- Dana Altman
- Mark Turgeon
- Kellen Sampson
- Joe Golding
Who do you guys think is the best hire for Oklahoma?