BasketballConference USALet's Speculate!WAC

Let’s Speculate! Potential New Mexico State head basketball coach candidates

Welcome to Let’s Speculate! on Coaches Database, where we go through programs that are or may soon be looking for a new head coach and speculate who they may hire next.

Today’s program is New Mexico State, coached by Greg Heiar since 2022 (fired on Tuesday).

  • James Miller – Mississippi State assistant coach
    • Maybe who Moccia should have hired a year ago, Miller spent four seasons with the Aggies and Chris Jans, including three as associate head coach. He didn’t get (or didn’t want?) the job and followed Jans to Mississippi State instead, but could certainly be the right guy this time around to get the program back on track. Miller knows what it takes to be successful at NMSU, so there’s no reason he shouldn’t be able to make it happen as head coach.
  • Joe Pasternack – UC Santa Barbara head coach
    • Pasternack is not long for the Big West, as he has done a great job at UC Santa Barbara and will have plenty of opportunities for bigger jobs. He led the Gauchos to the NCAA Tournament in 2021 and has a great chance to go back in 2023. Prior to his hiring in 2017, Pasternack spent six years at Arizona working under Sean Miller. He was also the head coach at New Orleans in his native Louisiana from 2007-11, leading the Privateers during turbulent times in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. NMSU and C-USA would be a nice step up for him and he can definitely win there.
  • Todd Simon – Southern Utah head coach
    • Now in his seventh year at Southern Utah, Simon is heading towards a third-straight 20+ win season and are on the running for an automatic bid in their first season in the WAC. Even though it won’t be a step up in conference, Simon would have more resources at NMSU and could be swayed.
  • Billy Donlon – Clemson associate head coach
    • Donlon is well-respected in basketball circles and has plenty of head coaching experience, though his tenure at Kansas City ultimately didn’t work out. He won 20+ games three times at Wright State and did show improvement with the Roos, going 19-12 in his third season before stepping down last April. New Mexico State could be a much better situation for the 46-year old Clemson staffer.
  • Barry Hinson – Oklahoma State associate AD
    • Hinson is in his fourth year on staff at Oklahoma State after spending seven seasons as the head coach at Southern Illinois. It’s that job that connects him to NMSU AD Mario Moccia, who was at SIU back in 2012 and hired Hinson as the Salukis’ head man. Hinson had two 20+ win seasons at SIU and was named MVC COY in 2016, but was unable to get over the hump. He’s maybe not a long-term solution but the 61-year-old could come in a turn things around during a shorter tenure.
  • Ben Howland – former Mississippi State, UCLA, Pitt, NAU head coach
    • If Moccia is looking for someone as a shorter term solution, he could also look at a guy like Howland. Out of the game this year after seven years at Mississippi State, Howland has taken four different programs to the NCAA Tournament and would definitely be in a position to make it five at NMSU. At 65 years old, Howland has more head coaching experience than anyone else on this list and could come in, get the Aggies back on the right track and retire in 4-5 years on a higher note than the one he left Starkville on.
  • Bruce Weber – former Kansas State, Illinois, SIU head coach
    • Another coach that has connections to Moccia from Southern Illinois is Weber, the former SIU head coach who went on to take Illinois to the National Championship game in 2005 and later coached Kansas State to two Big 12 titles in ten years. Weber will turn 67 before the end of this year so he is probably not a long-term solution. But he has done the job for more than 20 years and has had success at all three of his previous jobs. We put Weber in the same category as other older coaches on this list who could stop the bleeding and turn things around for NMSU, while capping off their own career with one more success story.
  • Tom Crean – former Georgia, Indiana, Marquette head coach
    • The mass exodus of players and recruits… the tarnished legacy and reputation.. the current state at NMSU is not dissimilar to the situation that Crean stepped into in 2008 in Bloomington, Indiana. It took some time, but Crean won two Big Ten titles and had multiple Top 10 teams. Maybe he isn’t looking for that kind of situation again (maybe he’s not even looking to leave the television studio just yet), but he’s navigated tough situations before and could very well do it again.
  • Gregg Marshall – former Wichita State, Winthrop head coach
    • This is a tough one, as Marshall’s exit from Wichita State amidst a player mistreatment scandal really tarnished his strong legacy of on-court success. Not every AD in the country would take a chance on Marshall, while many potential coaching candidates might not want to take a chance on NMSU right now. Maybe that makes it a great match. Marshall credentials are off the charts, so if Moccia will look past the off-court issues (which Marshall has vehemently denied are true) then he could land an instant winner and get the Aggies right back in the mix.