From Year 0 to Year 46, 358 college basketball Division I head coaches will try to lead their teams to a championship next season.
We’ve seen some coaches take little time to succeed, others are still given chance after chance to prove themselves, and everything in between. Here are the top college basketball head coaches by years coached.
- Each coach is evaluated only on their Division I men’s basketball years. Any years coached in the NBA, Divisions II-III, NAIA, or women’s college basketball are not reflected in years coached.
- If a team transitioned from Division II or III to Division I while the coach was there, only the years at the Division I level will be reflected due to the increased competition level.
- Total wins, win percentage, and tournament success were the three most important factors in the decision-making process.
0 Years: Mike Woodson (Indiana)
Top 3: Mike Woodson, Hubert Davis (UNC) , Tommy Lloyd (Gonzaga)
Total Amount: 29
We will be seeing a lot of coaches start what hopes to be a long head coaching career next season, and these top three could be very different next year based on what happens next season. While Mike Woodson doesn’t have any college basketball coaching history, he did have relative success in the NBA, making three conference finals appearances. He will need to prove himself at this level as well, as it is a whole different game. Davis and Lloyd both get chances after years of being behind hall of fame head coaches in Roy Williams and Mark Few.
1 Year: Isaac Brown (Wichita State)
Top 3: Issac Brown, Scott Davenport (Bellarmine), Terrence Johnson (Texas State)
Total Amount: 21
After being forced into the head coach position last offseason, Brown thrived, winning the regular-season title in a competitive conference and being the only first-year head coach to make the NCAA Tournament. Davenport is a tricky situation since he has been a head coach at Bellarmine for 16 years, but this was their first year at the D1 level. Due to that, he qualifies as a first-year coach according to my rules and took his team to the CBI Quarterfinals. Johnson was unable to take his team to a tournament but did win the regular-season title with an impressive 18-7 record.
2 Years: Juwan Howard (Michigan)
Top 3: Juwan Howard, Eric Henderson (South Dakota State), Dennis Gates (Cleveland State)
Total Amount: 31
What Howard has done in his first two years is pretty incredible, finishing as a #1 seed in the tournament and making the Elite 8, two things coaches with even 10-15 years of experience can’t achieve. Based on this resume, we may see Howard’s name in the conversation for one of the best active coaches sooner than later. Eric Henderson has an extremely impressive record of 38-17 in his two years, and is bound to make his first tournament appearance soon. Lastly, Dennis Gates proved his worth by taking this Cleveland State team to the big dance and earned himself a contract extension while he was at it.
3 Years: Darian DeVries (Drake)
Top 3: Darian Devries, Penny Hardaway(Memphis) , Kevin Broadus (Morgan State)
Total Amount: 30
Darian Devries has done an excellent job at Drake, winning 70 games in just three years and saw his team finish as one of the last unbeatens in all of college basketball. Penny Hardaway was expected to do more with his teams, but he’s still a good recruiter and did end up taking the NIT crown, giving Memphis fans hope for better days ahead. Kevin Broadus doesn’t have much on his resume, but a Round of 64 appearances surprisingly puts him ahead of 26 other candidates.
4 Years: Brian Dutcher (San Diego State)
Top 3: Brian Dutcher, Mike Boynton (Oklahoma State), Mike Hopkins (Washington)
Total Amount: 20
Brian Dutcher has turned San Diego State into an annual contender, win over 20 games in all four years. If the tournament happened last year, there’s little doubt his team could have made a deep run in the tournament. Mike Boynton is headed in the same direction, and being able to get the probable #1 pick in the draft earned him and his team respect. Hopkins has had two abysmal seasons, but people forget how good that Washington team was those first two years, nearly going undefeated in the Pac 12 and producing solid pro-level talent.
5 Years: Chris Jans (New Mexico State)
Top 3: Chris Jans, Grant McCasland (North Texas), TJ Otzelberger (Iowa State)
Total Amount: 18
At 109 wins, Jans is the only 5-year coach in college basketball with 100 wins, and in his time at New Mexico State he has turned them into one of the top mid-major teams. McCasland got a lot of great attention for how good of a coach and how good of a team he had when the 13 seeded North Texas made it to the round of 32 and upset a sleeper deep run team in Purdue. Rounding out the Top 3 is Otzelberger, who started off his coaching career terrifically at South Dakota State before struggling at UNLV, he’ll have a chance to prove himself again in the Big 12 after accepting the Iowa State job this offseason. While Jeff Boals doesn’t make the cut, don’t be surprised if you see his name on this list in years to come.
6 Years: Eric Musselman (Arkansas)
Top 3: Eric Musselman, Nate Oats (Alabama), Greg Gard (Wisconsin)
Total Amount: 15
The 6 years coaches had a ton of great coaches, with a few solid ones missing the cut like Mark Pope (BYU), Ryan Odom (Utah State), and Steve Forbes (Wake Forest). The three who did are special and will be in their position for a long time. Musselman has already made an Elite 8 and Sweet 16 appearance in six years and has an insane win percentage of (.745). Oats is right behind him with a Sweet 16 appearance and has really set a great culture for a school that’s primarily known for its football. Greg Gard has two Sweet 16 appearances, and his ability to retain players shows the willingness to play for Gard and succeed under him.
7 Years: Chris Beard (Texas)
Top 3: Chris Beard, Fred Hoiberg (Nebraska), Kevin Keatts (NC State)
Total Amount: 14
Is there anything bad to say about Beard? He is the least experienced coach to make a final 4 and a national championship game and will have an even better chance at a bigger school in Texas. We all know Fred Hoiberg for his success at Iowa State, but he has not been able to achieve that at Nebraska. He does have a talented 5 star coming in, as he and Nebraska look to exit the Big 10 purgatory. Lastly, Kevin Keatts has done a great job in the regular season but needs to get past the Round of 64 to stay in this top 3.
8 Years: Will Wade (LSU)
Top 3: Will Wade, Brad Underwood (Illinois), Bobby Hurley (Arizona State)
Total Amount: 21
The amount of 8th-year coaches was surprising, with more 8-year coaches than 5,6, and 7 years. While there are debates on Will Wade’s ethics, his tournament and overall success are very impressive, making him the top option of 21 on this list. Following him is Brad Underwood, who coached his team to a 1 seed in the tournament this year and should find himself back as a high seed next season as well. Hurley has received high remarks for his coaching ability but hasn’t been able to prove it in the tournament yet which has kept him in that third spot but ahead of other options.
9 Years: Bryce Drew (Grand Canyon)
Top 3: Bryce Drew, Billy Gillispie (Tarleton State), Richard Pitino (New Mexico)
Total Amount: 13
The 9-year coach group was actually disappointing considering the amount of time they’ve had to prove themselves, with Gilespie being the only one to make a Sweet 16. Bryce Drew takes the crown here thanks to an over .600 overall record and two Round of 32 appearances. Gillespie returned to coaching this year after a nearly ten-year absence and will look to recapture the success he had with Power 5 teams at a school that is quite opposite. Richard hasn’t had the same career path as his Dad, and moving from a Power 5 school in Minnesota to a non Power in New Mexico isn’t always encouraging. However, he does have a Round of 32 appearance which is enough to put him on the list.
10 Years: Michael White (Florida)
Top 3: Michael White, Andy Enfield (USC), Chris Holtmann (Ohio State)
Total Amount: 18
Michael White has quietly put up one of the best resumes in college basketball. With an Elite 8 appearances and 224 wins in 10 years, White has made Louisiana Tech and Florida teams to watch for every year. Originally known for his magical run with Florida Gulf Coast, Enfield has done a decent job in both recruiting and winning. Enfield added an Elite 8 to his resume this year and keeps USC competitive year after year. Chris Holtmann knows how to get to the tournament and win that first game, but the Round of 32 is his kryptonite. He’s 1-4 in those games, but with the talent he brings in every year he’s bound to make a deep run soon. Wes Miller (Cincinnatti), Casey Alexander (Belmont), and John Becker (Vermont) are three top mid-major coaches who didn’t have the tournament success to make this list.
11 Years: Dan Hurley (UConn)
Top 3: Dan Hurley, Russell Turner (UC Irvine), Darrin Horn (Northern Kentucky)
Total Amount: 15
This was also a disappointing list of options, with none of them making the Elite 8 in their 11 years. Dan Hurley gets the nod for his ability to turn teams around. At Wagner, they went from 13-17 to 25-6, 8-21 to 26-8 at Rhode Island, and 16-17 to 15-8 at UConn. He needs to be better in the Tournament, but if Uconn keeps him around long enough he will be able to do so. Russell Turner knows how to win, with a 227-148 record, and pulled off an upset in the 2018-2019 tournament to send his team to the Round of 32. Darrin Horn gets the nod for his 1 Sweet 16 appearance, which put him ahead of the pack.
12 Years: Chris Mack (Louisville)
Top 3: Chris Mack, Shaka Smart (Marquette), Josh Pastner (Georgia Tech)
Total Amount: 13
Mack’s .685 win percentage is one of the best in all of college basketball, so the fact that he has done it for so long is very impressive. He’s also a great tournament coach, making an Elite 8 and three Sweet 16s, which should bring Louisville fans joy that he’s their guy. Shaka Smart has been seeing as many as an underperforming coach, and they’re right, but his Final 4 appearance does make him the second-least experienced coach with one, and that says a lot. Not only is Josh Pastner a younger experienced coach, but also a younger coach in general, so his success already can put him in an elite conversation if he is able to continue his success at this pace.
13 Years: Anthony Grant (Dayton)
Top 3: Anthony Grant (Dayton), Johnny Dawkins (UCF), John Groce (Akron)
Total Amount: 6
There were a surprisingly low amount of options at this spot, but Grant is the clear winner. The 2019-2020 coach of the year could have easily made a national championship run that year, but unfortunately was not able to. He has 20 more wins than the next highest coach, and will probably separate himself even more with good incoming talent coming in. Johnny Dawkins may be known as Tacko Fall’s coach, but he’s more than that, with 250 career wins and a high level of respect from his players. John Groce, like Grant, had his best season during the canceled tournament season but has had a winning season 10 of his 13 seasons as a head coach in college basketball.
14 Years: Buzz Williams (Texas A&M)
Top 3: Buzz Williams, Frank Martin (South Carolina), Cuonzo Martin (Missouri)
When Buzz Williams was at Marquette and Virginia Tech, he finished with 20 wins in 10 of the 12 seasons with the team, including the Elite 8 once and the Sweet 16 three times. When Williams gets a full season to show what he can do, Texas A&M will find themselves there as well. Frank Martin gets the second spot thanks to his Final 4 appearance, a rare and impressive feat for any coach. Martin slightly edges Kevin Willard (Seton Hall) for the third spot thanks to 2 more overall wins and one better round in the tournament in their team’s best season.
15 Years: Tony Bennett (Virginia)
Top 3: Tony Bennett, Wayne Tinkle (Oregon State), Tad Boyle (Colorado)
Total Amount: 9
With 15 years of head coaching experience, Bennett is the least experienced active coach to win a national championship. He has a ridiculous record of 364-136 (.728) and has made Virginia a threat in the ACC every season. You can argue that Wayne Tinkle isn’t a good coach, and if it wasn’t for the Elite 8 run he wouldn’t be on here, but you can’t ignore what happened this year with his beyond impressive season in college basketball. Tad Boyle knows how to win, with a winning season at Colorado in all but one year, and does a solid job keeping players in the program.
16 Years: Mark Fox (California)
Top 3: Mark Fox, Steve Pikiell (Rutgers), Jim Ferry (UMBC)
Total Amount: 6
This group was in my opinion the least impressive group. In 16 years, not a single one of these coaches has made a Sweet 16. Fox is the only coach with 300 wins, and his two-round of 32 appearances give him the nod. Pikiell is certainly on the upwards trajectory and should have made the Sweet 16 this season if not for the meltdown against Houston. Ferry actually makes this list with a Sub .500 record, the only coach to do so, and that is because of his two Round of 32 appearances.
17 Years: Bruce Pearl (Auburn)
Top 3: Bruce Pearl, Jamie Dixon (TCU), Matt Painter (Purdue)
Total Amount: 11
Pearl has had a terrific career, doing it all. He’s had the rare combination of being good in the regular season, postseason, recruiting well, and sending players to the NBA. There is little doubt he will hear his name in the hall of fame considerations when he hangs it up. When Dixon was at Pittsburgh, they were one of the teams to beat every season, and his absence has really shown as Pittsburgh hasn’t been able to get back to that since he joined TCU. Matt Painter is another terrific coach who is great in the tournament, and with the team he’s bringing back next season he can easily add a Final 4 to his resume.
18 Years: Mick Cronin (UCLA)
Mick Cronin is the only coach with 18 years of experience. We all saw what he did this season with UCLA, being a half-court buzzer-beater away from potentially making the national championship game. He’s been great from start to finish and is slowly climbing the top college basketball coaches leaderboard.
19 Years: Scott Drew (Baylor)
Top 3: Scott Drew, Mike Anderson (St. Johns), Rick Stansbury (Western Kentucky)
Total Amount: 9
Yes, there are nine coaches with 19 years of experience but only one with 18 years, don’t ask. At the top is newly minted national championship Scott Drew, who has built Baylor into an amazing program and the best team the last two seasons. The only coach on this list with 400 wins though is Mike Anderson, with 403 wins and an Elite 8 appearance. Finally, we have Rick Stansbury, who can recruit like no other mid-major coach and win his division.
20 Years: Randy Bennett (St. Mary’s)
Top 3: Randy Bennett, Johnny Jones (Texas Southern), Mark Schmidt (St. Bonaventure)
Total Amount: 5
St. Mary’s is one of those teams that are really solid every year but doesn’t get attention thanks to Gonzaga, and Bennett is the mind behind that team. He has an incredible 70% win percentage in 20 years, he just needs the tournament success to improve to gain that attention. Johnny Jones might not be a name you’ve heard of but has a good resume compared to his competition, including four Round of 64 appearances. Mark Schmidt doesn’t have the numbers that people expect him to have, but with a solid returning class next season he could change that.
21 Years: Tom Crean (Georgia)
Top 3: Tom Crean, Greg McDermott (Creighton), Mike Davis (Detroit Mercy)
Total Amount: 4
In case you were wondering, St. Louis coach Tom Ford was the only coach to miss the cut. Tom Crean doesn’t however, and this is thanks to his Final Four run and three Sweet 16s. McDermott has been the rock for Creighton, especially when his son was there, and has kept them as a contender every season in the Big East. You may not remember it, but Mike Davis was the runner-up in the 2001-2002 season, back when he was the Indiana Head Coach. He hasn’t done much at Detroit Mercy but has also found a way to make the tournament, no matter what team he’s coaching.
22 Years: Mark Few (Gonzaga)
Top 3: Mark Few, James Jones (Yale), Rod Barnes (Cal State Bakersfield)
Total Amount: 5
Mark Few is has won 83.6% of his games coached, a Division I record. He has a perfect resume besides one thing, a national championship. He’ll have another great shot again next season with the pre-season MVP and the #1 recruit, it’s just about executing now. The rest of the list is a few tiers under Few, with Jones getting the second spot thanks to a 54.3% win percentage and Barnes at 3 with a Sweet 16 run.
23 Years: Bruce Weber (Kansas State)
Top 3: Bruce Weber, Mark Gottfried (Cal State Northridge), Bob Marlin (Louisiana)
Total Amount: 7
Bruce Weber has been successful wherever he goes, turning low recruits into NBA players and retaining them at the same time. His runner-up with Illinois was an incredible year in which the team went 37-2, and his coaching was a big reason why. Gottfried hasn’t been able to figure it out at CSUN, but with Murray State, Alabama, and NC State he was terrific, turning each of them into tournament teams and making a few runs.
24 Years: Lorenzo Romar (Pepperdine)
Top 2: Lorenzo Romar, Dan Monson (Long Beach State)
Only two options here, and Romar has 50 more wins than Monson. Neither coach has a high profile at the moment, but knows how to win games, and that’s what matters.
25 Years: Ben Howland (Mississippi State)
Top 3: Ben Howland, Fran Mccaffery (Iowa), Ed Dechellis (Navy)
Total Amount: 3
At UCLA, Howland was one of the best, recruiting future NBA Hall of Famers and making Final 4s at ease. Mississippi State fans are hoping he can do the same, although that hasn’t been the case. Mccaffrey is also a good coach but faces the biggest wall of any coach making the Sweet 16, going 0-6 in Round of 32 games. Dechellis doesn’t have much of a resume, but only having three options puts him in the top 3.
26 Years: Tom Izzo (Michigan State)
Top 3: Tom Izzo, Mike Brey (Notre Dame), Steve Alford (Nevada)
Total Amount: 4
One of the best and most respected coaches in college basketball is Izzo. He had asserted Michigan State as a semi-blue blood and has earned his spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame. He has 96 more wins than the next highest 26th-year coach, Mike Brey who has a pretty good resume himself. Steve Alford, like Howland, was great at UCLA and is looking for similar success at his new school.
27 Years: Jay Wright (Villanova)
Top 2: Jay Wright, Herb Sendek (Santa Clara)
One of the top coaches in the league and one of the few multi-time winners, Wright would be atop almost every year. Villanova is a powerhouse now thanks to him and will continue to be as long as he’s there. Sendek has a Sweet 16 appearance, but that’s about it for him.
28 Years: Bill Self (Kansas)
Top 2: Bill Self, Kelvin Sampson (Houston)
When it comes to regular-season championships, Bill Self is the guy, winning 14 straight with Kansas, an NCAA Division I record. He also has a national championship to add to that, and 729 career wins. Sampson isn’t a bad option either, with two final fours including one this season.
29 Years: John Calipari (Kentucky)
Top 2: John Calipari, Jeff Jones (Old Dominion)
The best coach at developing NBA talent is Calipari. His all Kentucky team could be an All-Star team and that’s why he’s also a national champion. Jeff Jones has an Elite 8 appearance, and just being tenured for 29 years in college basketball is impressive enough.
30 Years: Tubby Smith (High Point)
Top 2: Tubby Smith, Bill Herrion (New Hampshire)
We have finally entered the 30+ club, and national champion Tubby Smith starts us off here. He’s got a great win percentage and a clear passion for coaching. Herrion actually has a career losing record, but New Hampshire has stuck with him since the 2005-2006 season.
32 Years: Dana Altman (Oregon)
Top 2: Dana Altman, Bob McKillop (Davidson)
Dana Altman is a tremendous coach and arguably one of the most intelligent. The Ducks have made a few deep runs because of his coaching, including the Final 4 run one season. McKillop is also a great coach, with over 600 wins in his career.
33 Years: Rick Pitino (Iona)
Top 2: Rick Pitino, Leonard Hamilton (Florida State)
Rick Pitino just goes from school to school and wins. Now, the debate is whether to count that championship even though it was vacated, but regardless his resume is extremely impressive. Leonard Hamilton is solid every year, but only one Elite 8 performance in 33 years is a little surprising.
34 Years: Rick Barnes (Tennessee)
The one-time coach of the year also wins wherever he goes, this time doing it in Tennessee. He recruits terrifically and is a solid game manager, a big reason why he’s coached for so long and will continue to be seen as a top coach in college basketball.
35 Years: Jim Larranaga (Miami)
Larranaga has had quite the career, making a final 4 appearances and several tournament appearances. At 71 years old, it’s unknown how many more seasons we’ll see of him, but Miami certainly hopes more than less.
36 Years: Bob Huggins (West Virginia)
This season, Huggins reached 900 wins, 6th all-time in college basketball history. By the end of next season, he’ll most likely be third. With this being said, he doesn’t have a championship which is holding him back from a Hall of Fame spot. This season though, he’ll earn that spot as he is one of the best coaches ever and has turned this West Virginia team into a tournament threat every season.
43 Years: Cliff Ellis (Coastal Carolina)
He may not be known by the average college basketball fan, but Ellis has actually been coaching at the D1 level since 1975. He is the third most experienced coach in all of college basketball, yet has never made it past the Sweet 16 in his time.
45 Years: Jim Boeheim (Syracuse)
Coming in at the second most years coached is of course Boeheim, a college basketball national champion, Hall of Famer, and one of the best ever. His defense is what gained him attention, and has gotten players to buy into his system and succeed because of that. While he is also getting up there in age, he wants to keep coaching, so Syracuse fans can rejoice.
46 Years: Mike Krzyzewski (Duke)
You guessed it, Coach K has the most years coached of all Division I college basketball coaches. Unfortunately for Duke fans and many college basketball fans, year 47 will be his last, as he announced it will be his last season next year. 5 champions, the most wins of all time and so much more have put Coach K into the GOAT conversation, if not a top 3 lock.
2 thoughts on “Top College Basketball Head Coaches By Years Coached”
33 year coaches: Pitino ahead of Roy Williams?
This list is all active coaches, so Hubert Davis would represent UNC and Williams is not on the list.
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