Top 15 College Basketball Coaches Who Could Succeed in the NBA

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Top 15 College Basketball Coaches Who Could Succeed in the NBA

Top 15 NBA
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA has been filled with great coaching and bad coaching. Face it, without great coaching the league would be dead. Every team would be painful to watch. That is why coaching is a big deal in basketball and in other professional sports.

There has been great coaching like Phil Jackson and to the worse like Tim Floyd. However, there are a few coaches who came from the coaching college who failed in coaching in the big leagues.

For an example, Floyd was a guy who coached college for 12 years before giving it a shot in the NBA. His college coaching record prior taking the Chicago Bulls job he was 242-131.

He went 13-37 in his first year as a coach in the league. Floyd had an overall record of 90 wins and 231 loses during his five years he coached in the NBA.

There has only been one guy who was able to take his team to the finish line in both college and in the NBA. That man is Larry Brown.

Brown has spent most of his life coaching and has coached both the college and in the NBA. He spent most of his college coaching career with the UCLA Bruins and the Kansas Jayhawks.

With the Bruins he had a record of 42 wins and 17 loses. With the Jayhawks he had 135 wins and 44 loses. He took the Jayhawks to their second ever National Championship in 1988.

After the National Championship he left the college atmosphere to stay in the NBA. It was not until 2004 with the Detroit Pistons where he won his first and only NBA Championship.

He is the only coach in basketball history to have won a National Championship in college and a NBA Championship. No other college coach has able to have the same success as Brown did in his coaching career.

However, this is a new age of basketball and there may be a few guys out there who could make it into the NBA. Here are the top fifteen college coaches who could succeed in the NBA.

*NOTE* Coach's Winning Records does not include this current basketball season
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#15 Tom Crean

Crean
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Tom Crean took his first head coaching job in 1999 with the Marquette Golden Eagles. He spent nine years there after taking a job with the Indiana Hoosiers where he is currently coaching. He has 245 wins and 171 loses (not including this year) in his coaching career.

He took Marquette to one Final Four during his time there and took Indiana to a Sweet Sixteen in 2012. He may not have an impressive coaching sheet, but he has coached Eric Gordon, Steve Novak and Dwyane Wade.

He may not get a shot with a team that has stars, but with his defensive way of coaching he could bring a young team to the next level in the NBA. A team like the Sacramento Kings or the Phoenix Suns who are struggling right now, I believe that Crean could turn them around.

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#14 Bob Huggins

Huggins
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Bob Huggins has been coaching since 1977. He got his first head coaching job in 1980 with Walsh University, but has spent most of coaching career with the Cincinnati Bearcats and West Virginia Mountaineers.

He has a coaching record of 709 wins and 268 loses. That is a win percentage of 72.7. He has coached names like Kenyon Martin, O.J. Mayo and Michael Beasley.

Now could he win tons of games as a NBA Coach? Possibly. He does have tons of basketball knowledge being around basketball pretty much his whole life. So why not give him a shot?

I believe that he will be able to turn a bad team into a decent team. He may be not with a West team, but maybe an East team like the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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#13 Thad Matta

Matta
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Thad Matta has been coaching since 1990. However, he did not get his first head coaching job until 2000 with the Butler Bulldogs.

He has spent most of his coaching career with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Matta has a total of 323 wins and 96 loses with two Final Four appearance, three Sweet Sixteen appearances and an National Champion Runner-up.

Matta has had success as a head coach and especially with the Buckeyes, where he is currently coaching. He is still in his mid-40's and will be coaching for decades more. I believe that he could have a shot in the NBA if he really wants to coach the pros.

Who wouldn't love him? He is not afraid to show his emotion, bad or good. Players love him and I am sure that NBA players would love him too.

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#12 Brad Stevens

Stevens
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

He has only been a head coach in college for five years, but that does not mean that Brad Stevens is a bad coach. He already has success with Butler.

He has already been to two National Championships, but lost both. Stevens is 139-40 since becoming a head coach.

With his strong approach of the defensive side of the game I believe that he could have a shot in becoming a great NBA head coach. In fact, he could actually become a great coach who coaches future NBA great like a LeBron James or Kobe Bryant.

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#11 Sean Miller

Miller
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Miller has only been a head coach for eight years. He started coaching for the Xavier Musketeers and is now currently coaching for the Arizona Wildcats.

He has a career total of 179 wins and 82 loses. He has coached players like Derrick Williams and Jordan Crawford, however has not been able to make it to a Final Four yet.

However, I do believe that he will close to a championship eventually. I actually think that he could make a good NBA coach. Maybe not a great coach, but a decent. However, if he ever made it to the NBA he would have to come up with other defensive scenario other than his man-to-man defense.

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#10 Jamie Dixon

Dixon
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jamie Dixon has been with one school since becoming a head coach for the Pittsburgh Panthers in 2003 . Although, he has not made it to a National Championship or a Final Four he has had a great success during the season.

He has an overall record of 238 wins and 77 loses. He has coached players like DeJuan Blair and Sam Young.

The fact that he has such a high winning percentage in his coaching career makes him a good choice for him to get into the NBA. The way he teaches defense to the team with his “Thug'em” type style makes him a top 10 choice to jump from college to the NBA.

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#9 Mike Montgomery

Montgomery
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, it is fair to put Mike Montgomery part of this list. Even though, he failed coaching with the Golden State Warriors from 2004-2006 does not mean that he would make for a bad coach in the future.

He got his first head coaching job with the Montana Grizzlies in 1977 and spent nine years there. He then moved on to coach the Stanford Cardinals from 1986-2004. After that he jumped to the NBA to coach the Warriors.

He spent only two season there and was 34-48 during his time there. Since then, he has been coaching for the California Golden Bears. He has racked up 635 wins and 291 loses during his college coaching career.

I still believe he can make it as a coach in the NBA and the fact that those two years he was in the league did not show if he was a good coach or not. He had a bad team to work with, so of course it did not go as well.

If he goes back to the NBA and goes to a team that has decent enough players, then he could make an impact. It may be awhile before he tries it again, but I still think he is the person for the job when a NBA team is looking for their next head coach.

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#8 Rick Pitino

Pitino
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Rick Pitino has already shown that he could survive as a coach in the NBA. He has already done that.

At 60 years old, he has been coaching since 1974, but got his first head coaching job in 1978. That is when coached the Boston Terriers. He coached five years there before going to the NBA as an assistant coach with the New York Knicks.

In 1987 he became the head coach for the Knicks. It took him just two years to take the Knicks to a division title.

His last time in the NBA was between 1997-2001 when he was the coach for the Boston Celtics. Although, he only had a 192-220 record in the NBA he still has high record in college basketball at 616-227.

His full court pressure type defense may not work all the time in the NBA, but with his basketball smarts I believe that he could eventually take a decent team to a post-season appearance.

Again, he has had some success in the NBA before. I believe he can still have success in the future.

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#7 Bill Self

Self
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Self has coached for four schools since 1993. He started with the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles where he spent four years.

He also coached the Tulsa Golden Hurricane and the Illinois Fighting Illini before going to the Jayhawks.

He has racked up 476 wins and 158 loses during his coaching career. He has coached plenty of players who have made it in the NBA. Players like Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers and Deron Williams.

He is a great defensive coach and I believe he could carry that into the NBA if he ever decided to try the professional sport. A team like the Minnesota Timberwolves or the Toronto Raptors could use a coach like Self.

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#6 Jim Boeheim

Boeheim
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Boeheim has been with one team and one team only during his coaching career. Since 1969 he has been apart of the Syracuse Orange coaching staff.

It was not until 1976 when he became the head coach of the school's team. He has a total of 891 wins and 304 loses. That is a winning percentage of 74.7.

He has been apart of the Men's USA Basketball team as an assistant coach, so he knows what it takes to coach a professional team.

Although, he may never even try to go to the NBA, he would still make a pretty good coach if he did. If two Olympic gold medals say anything that's he can coach a NBA team.

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#5 Roy Williams

Williams
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Roy Williams is a high winning percentage coach. He has a total of 675 wins and 169 loses. He started coaching for the Jayhawks before going to coach the North Carolina Tar Heels.

He has been to four National Championships winning two of them (2005 and 2009). He has coached players like Kirk Hinrich, Drew Gordon, Ty Lawson, Marvin Williams Raymond Felton and Paul Pierce.

He believes in strictly man-to-man defense and it has worked for him in the past. It may not work out for him in the NBA, but with a few adjustment to his coaching style then I believe he could make it into the NBA.

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#4 Billy Donovan

Donovan
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Billy Donovan has spent almost his entire coaching career with the Florida Gators. He has been there since 1996 and has piled up a career record of 421 wins and 178 loses.

He began coaching in 1994 with the Marshall Thundering Herd where he spent two years before going to the Gators. He won back-to-back National titles in 2006 and 2007.

He has coached players like David Lee, Matt Boner, Al Hordford, Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller and Joakim Noah.

People say coaching in the NBA is not the same as it is in the college. However, I believe his coaching skills could bring him success in the big leagues.

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#3 John Calipari

Calipari
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

John Calipari is a guy that I believe should have another shot with a NBA team. He coached the New Jersey Nets from 1996-1999.

He started his first head coaching job with the Massachusetts Minutemen where he spent seven years. After his time with the Nets he went back to college and coached the Memphis Tigers for eight years. He is currently coaching the Kentucky Wildcats.

He has a total of 508 wins and 151 loses. He has coached players like Marcus Camby, John Wall, Brandon Knight, Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, Derrick Rose, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis.

I believe if he has coached guys like those and they now great or decent NBA players then he will be able to coach in the NBA. He did it once and failed, but he needs another shot. He is a great offensive coach and his style of teaching would help any bad NBA team right now.

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#2 Tom Izzo

Izzo
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Tom Izzo has spent his entire college head coaching career with the Michigan State Spartans. He has a 412-169 record as the head coach of the school.

He only has one National Championship under his belt, but he is still a great coach who I believe could succeed in the NBA. He could have the same success that Larry Brown had when he was in the NBA

With his coaching style Izzo could succeed with any team in the NBA right now. With his tough guard game a NBA team with a decent guard, Izzo will be able to turn him and that team into a playoff contender.

The NBA wants him and the NBA may need him, but right now Izzo is staying put with the Spartans. However, maybe one day he will take an offer from a NBA team.

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#1 Mike Kryzewski

Kryzewski
Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Probably the most known college coach by NBA fans is Mike Kryzewski or simply Coach K. He has been a head coach since 1975 when he first coached for the Army Black Knights. He coached there for five years before going to where he is now with the Duke Blue Devils.

He has four National Championships, but what he is most known for is coaching the USA Men's Basketball Team. He has four Olympic gold medals and that is with a team that has a James, Wade, Bryant, Jason Kidd and more.

There is no question that Coach K would make an excellent head coach and there is really no doubt why he is at the #1 spot of the list. I actually think he could have a long successful career in the NBA. As he showed with the Olympic team he can do the exact same thing with an NBA team, no question.

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