John Beilein shook up the college basketball world Monday by accepting a five-year deal to become the Cleveland Cavaliers' new coach following 12 seasons at Michigan.
While Beilein will have an adjustment period to the NBA similar to fellow college-turned-pro coaches Brad Stevens and Billy Donovan, the move to hire an influential college coach for a rebuilding NBA franchise is intriguing.
But there's a reason successful coaches like Kentucky's John Calipari, Nebraska's Fred Hoiberg and Florida State's Leonard Hamilton have returned to the college game after unsuccessful NBA stints: It's not easy managing egos of multi-million dollar paid players.
Here's a look at five college basketball coaches who should also consider the leap to the NBA. Note: College coaches who have already coached in the NBA like Calipari or Nevada's Eric Musselman were excluded.
Villanova's Jay Wright. The 57-year-old coach has been coveted by NBA teams in the past, and his name will be atop the leaderboard should the 76ers fire Brett Brown. But Wright seems content at 'Nova, where he's steered the Wildcats to two national titles in the past four years.
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Villanova Wildcats head coach Jay Wright has won two national championships over the past four years. (Photo: David Butler II, USA TODAY Sports)
Tom Izzo, Michigan State. Izzo, coming off his eighth career Final Four appearance, has grown weary of some of the baggage that is attached to the college game, including offseasons on the recruiting trail that often seem more important than the actual season. Keep in mind Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, a Spartans die-hard, tried to lure Izzo to Cleveland back when LeBron James left for the first time in 2010.
Mike Krzyzewski, Duke. At 72, it's unlikely that Coach K will give the NBA a try before he retires, but a fiery competitor like Krzyzewski could be enticed by the challenge. . If Krzyzewski was going to go to the NBA, it would've been in 2004 when he considered the role to coach a Kobe Bryant-led Lakers. Instead, he's garnered the respect of LeBron James and numerous superstars through his gold medal-winning Team USA coaching tours.
Bill Self, Kansas. The Jayhawks lost out on a Big 12 regular season title for the first time in 14 seasons in 2018-19. That was considered an off season for the Hall of Fame coach, who's mentored a list of NBA superstars, including Joel Embiid. During last season Self was so highly appealing for the Bulls coaching vacancy that he had to address his allegiance to the Jayhawks.
Richard Pitino, Minnesota. What's most intriguing about Pitino, perhaps more than being the son of Rick Pitino, is his age. At 36, Richard Pitino's early success as a head coach at Minnesota — he was 2017's Big Ten coach of the year — seems like the first of many accomplishments. It's the same reason coach Shaka Smart (now 42) was on NBA teams' radars half a decade ago after a then-36-year-old Stevens went to the Celtics.
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