Five names Texas Tech should consider for MBB head coach

Texas Tech is in the rare position of looking for its second head coach in three seasons.

Mark Adams resigned his post in the midst of an internal investigation by the University into racist comments made to a player. That officially frees up the first Power Five men’s basketball gig in Texas. As Chris Beard and Mark Adams showed in his first season, Lubbock is a hotbed of basketball culture. United Supermarkets Arena is arguably the best homecourt advantage in the state when rocking and according to prominent writers, Texas Tech has some of the best facilities in the nation after recent upgrades.

With Adams agreeing to a resignation, that likely relieves the program of paying Adams the full buyout of his $15.5-million extension signed at the end of last season. Tech has the money, it has the booster support, the facilities and the pedigree. It’s a top job in the country and has a big opportunity to make a big hire. Here are some names they should look into.

The Obvious: Grant McCasland – North Texas head coach

There’s already been an embrace of a defense-first mentality out West.

If Texas Tech wants to lean more into that but also distance itself from the Chris Beard era, the former Scott Drew assistant who’s turned North Texas into a mid-major force is a smart first look. He’s won 20 games in five of his six seasons in Denton including an upset win over Purdue in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2020-21 and has floored one of his best teams this seasons proving that he can get it done with different rosters. It also wouldn’t hurt to have someone relatively familiar with two other successful Big 12 head coaches leading your program. The only "criticism", if it can be called that, is McCasland's strict commitment to slowing game tempo to a stall as UNT's ranked near the bottom of the country in pace during most of his tenure.

The Other Obvious: Paul Mills – Oral Roberts head coach

If McCasland isn’t Tech’s cup of tea, maybe another former Drew assistant is. Paul Mills is proving that the Eagles’ Sweet 16 run in 2020-21 wasn’t a one-off with Oral Roberts notching a 30-4 record this year and ranking 56th in Kenpom, three spots higher than where Tech finished. It’d be a big identity shift with Mills’ teams playing very efficient offense and focusing on limiting self-inflicted wounds on that side of the ball as opposed to making its identity on the other end. Oral Roberts has consistently been one of the best teams in lowest offensive turnover percentage since Mills took over.

Under-the-Radar: Kyle Keller – SFA head coach

A less flashy, but perhaps more proven name is Kyle Keller down in Nacogdoches. The former Texas A&M assistant is 145-68 at SFA including an NCAA Tournament berth back in 2017-18. His lack of conference tournament success may be used as a valid criticism of his tenure but he’s quietly kept the Lumberjacks at the top of a tougher WAC conference since realignment and might be due for a promotion.

Outsider Worth a Shot: Andy Kennedy – UAB head coach

Since stepping down at Ole Miss, Andy Kennedy’s turned UAB into a Conference USA force reaching the NCAA Tournament last season and positioning the Blazers as one of the favorites in the tournament again this year. They’ve massively improved the 3-point the past two seasons and became an above-average defensive unit this season ranking second in the conference in eFG% defense. His career 337-23 record is proving that his 11-16 final year in Oxford was more of an aberration.

Flashing Cash: Sean Miller – Xavier head coach

Remember when I said that Texas Tech has the money to make a splash? Sean Miller is very likely looking to get back to the upper echelons of college basketball following his unceremonious exit from Arizona. Xavier is currently Top 20 in the nation in Kenpom in Miller’s first season back after a middling stint under Travis Steele. Does Miller see Lubbock as the spot to rebuild his credibility as a Power Five head coach and/or does Kirby Hocutt not see Miller’s violations at Arizona as a red flag?

Avoiding Familiarity

You may be surprised to not see two names listed here: Current Texas interim head coach Rodney Terry and current Kansas State assistant and former Tech assistant Ulric Maligi. Terry is currently having a successful run leading Texas in the wake of Beard’s firing and Maligi is a widely respected rising assistant serving his highest assistant role yet next to Jerome Tang. This isn’t me reporting as opposed to speculating, but with the Beard and Adams situations playing out over the last few months, Hocutt’s search may steer very clear of the Beard tree this time around.

That’s not an indictment of Terry nor Maligi specifically who are very capable coaches and have garnered wide praise, particularly Terry recently. But the further Tech can distance itself from the previous era of Red Raider Basketball, the better.

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