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Let’s Speculate! Potential Providence 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 Providence, coached by Ed Cooley since 2011 (left for Georgetown on Monday).

  • Micah Shrewsberry – Penn State head coach
    • Shrewsberry has made an enormous impact in his first two years in State College and is going to be in demand just for that alone. He maybe makes more sense at Notre Dame – Indiana guy who spent most of his career coaching in his home state – but he is back out East now where he previously spent six seasons with Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics. The Lions’ run to the NCAA Tournament and first-round upset will have several high-major ADs courting Shrews and Providence should definitely be in the mix.
  • Rick Pitino – Iona head coach
    • Pitino has done a (predictably) great job at Iona, coming off a second-straight MAAC title and a second NCAA bid in three years. Realistically, Pitino is headed to St. John’s. But the 70-year-old spent two seasons as the head coach at Providence back in the 1980s before making his first jump to the NBA so there is familiarity there that could be of interest on his end. It does, however, seem like the Big East program that Pitino will take over is the Johnnies but you can’t rule out Providence completely until that happens.
  • Mike Brey – former Notre Dame head coach
    • The Maryland-native and former DeMatha player and assistant has been a D-I head coach for 28 years, but the soon-to-be 64-year old Brey still has time ahead of him and could flourish back on the East Coast. His tenure at Notre Dame stagnated, with just one NCAA Tournament bid in the last five years, but he took the Irish to back-to-back Elite Eights pretty recently and had 16 20+ win seasons. He’s made it very clear he intends to keep coaching and he has Big East experience (the Irish were in the league until 2013) and has recruited many East Coast players to South Bend over the years.
  • Kim English – George Mason head coach
    • The 34-year old English is an up-and-comer who just finished his second season at George Mason after six years as a high-major assistant coach. What he lacks in experience he makes up with youth, enthusiasm and potential. English is part of the Rick Barnes coaching tree, having worked under the former Friars head coach for two years at Tennessee. The Baltimore-native is 34-29 with the Patriots and is on the radar for a number of ADs on the East Coast.
  • John Becker – Vermont head coach
    • Becker has such a stranglehold on the America East that every year we assume he will finally move on to a better job. He’s won eight of the last ten AEast titles and been to five NCAA Tournaments with the Catamounts. From their one-bid league he has never been seeded higher than 13, yet is still a fixture in the Big Dance. The Connecticut-native started his coaching career in DC but has been at Vermont now since 2006 (head coach since 2011).
  • Ryan Odom – Utah State head coach
    • Odom has kept things rolling at Utah State since his hiring in 2021, but his crowning achievement thus far is leading 16-seed UMBC to a dominant upset over top-seeded Virginia in 2018. The son of long-time coach Dave Odom has made a name for himself, going 170-106 in eight seasons as a D-I head coach with four postseason appearances (two NCAA).
  • Pat Kelsey – College of Charleston head coach
    • Kelsey is high on the list of a lot of ADs across college basketball, as he maintained a consistent winner at Winthrop and has now shown an ability to come in and win quickly at a new program. His Cougars‘ team was ranked as high as #18 this year en route to a co-CAA regular season title and CAA Tournament crown, going into the NCAA Tournament with 31 wins.
  • Robert Jones – Norfolk State head coach
    • Jones has built a MEAC juggernaut at Norfolk State, winning three of the last five regular season titles and going to two NCAA Tournaments. The Queens-native has been at Norfolk since 2007 and has been head coach since 2013, becoming the second-winningest head coach in program history last year. The flip side is that a MEAC to Big East jump might be too many steps at once, so Providence might prefer someone with at least mid-major experience.
  • Chris Mack – former Xavier, Louisville head coach
    • This is tricky one for a couple reasons, the first being that Mack was recently fired after a pretty disastrous tenure at Louisville (though things got WORSE after he left, so who knows?). There are also pretty reliable reports that Georgetown tried to hire the then Xavier head coach in 2017 and he turned it down, leaving for Louisville the following year. All of that aside though, Mack’s tenure at Xavier was impressive, making eight NCAA appearances in nine years with four Sweet Sixteens. He’s the only other guy on this list (besides Brey) to have been a Big East head coach and actually won a Big East title in 2017-18. Mack (53) is not done coaching, but he does seem content to take his time (the giant buyout from UL makes that possible) and be selective about his next move.
  • Billy Donovan – Chicago Bulls head coach
    • This is not going to happen. Donovan has been courted back to college on several occasions and while he is a PC alum, there is no way the financials will work out to make this happen.