College coaches with NBA potential
September, 23, 2013
By Jeff Goodman | ESPN.com
Jeff Moffett/Icon SMIWould Kansas' Bill Self be successful as an NBA head coach?Brad Stevens was a rarity -- a college coach hired by an NBA franchise. It’s become almost taboo with the recent lack of success from the ranks of college coaches going to the pros.
The list of victims includes two of the college game’s most successful coaches -– Hall of Famer Rick Pitino and Kentucky’s John Calipari. Among others who flopped are Lon Kruger, Tim Floyd, Mike Montgomery, Reggie Theus and Leonard Hamilton.
However, it happened this past offseason when Danny Ainge hired the young Butler head coach to replace Doc Rivers in Boston. The Celtics weren't alone in pursuing Stevens, either. A source told ESPN there was another general manager who also offered a job to Stevens.
Now that Stevens is off the board, who will be next?
I surveyed more than 50 NBA sources (a mix of coaches and front-office guys) for their off-the-record thoughts on who they would hire if they could select any current college head coach to run their NBA franchise. I've ranked the top 5 based on the coaches who stood out, complete with comments from several of the NBA sources.
1. Bill Self, Kansas
At one point not too long ago, the 50-year-old was considered primarily a recruiter. However, that changed a couple of seasons ago when he took the Jayhawks to the national title game with a relatively ho-hum roster. Self has led KU to nine straight Big 12 titles and won a national title in 2008.