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NCAA Men's Basketball Coaches To Know - 2022
1. Mick Cronin - UCLA
Mick Cronin’s coaching career began in 1991 at Woodward High School in Cincinnati before making the jump to the collegiate level in 1996 as an assistant at the University of Cincinnati, where he remained until 2001.
Following a second assistant position at Louisville, his first opportunity as a head coach came in 2003 when he got the job at Murray State. In his final season with the Racers in 2006, he led them to a 17-3 record and Ohio Valley Conference Championship while being named the conference’s Coach of the Year; soon after, however, he would be on his way back to a struggling Cincinnati program, where he served as head coach from 2006-2019.
Over his time at Cincinnati, he managed to completely turn around the program and lead them to two AAC Championships and nine straight NCAA tournament appearances, the best of which resulted in a Sweet Sixteen appearance. He was also named the AAC Coach of the Year in 2014.
Currently, Cronin serves as the head coach at UCLA. In his first season with the Bruins in 2019, he was named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year but saw the postseason cut short due to Covid-19.
In 2020-2021, Cronin lead the unlikely, 11th seeded Bruins to a Final Four appearance, where they ended up losing in a 93-90 overtime thriller to Gonzaga.
2. Chris Beard - University of Texas
Chris Beard’s wild coaching career began in 1991, where he served as a Graduate Assistant at Texas until 1995; after that season, he took the same position at Incarnate Word, where he remained for a single season.
Following assistant coaching stints at Abilene Christian and North Texas, his first two head coaching jobs came at Fort Scott CC in 1999 and Seminole State JC in 2000; after that season, he made the jump back to Division 1 as the associate head coach at Texas Tech from 2001-2011.
Beard’s lone season on the professional level came in 2011-12 with the South Carolina Warriors, as he would ultimately return to the collegiate level at McMurry and Angelo State in the following seasons.
In 2016, Beard led Little Rock to a 30-5 record and a Second-Round appearance in the NCAA Tournament, picking up Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year honors in the process.
After a short stint at UNLV, he took over at Texas Tech, where he would lead the Red Raiders to a Final Four appearance and a Big 12 Championship; in 2018 and 2019, he was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year, and he was also named the AP Coach of the Year in 2019.
In 2021, Beard was named the head coach at the University of Texas, where he serves currently.
3. John Calipari - Kentucky
John Calipari is one of the most recognizable coaches not just in college basketball, but in all of basketball, and for good reasons. His career began in 1982, where he served as an assistant at Kansas until 1985 and an assistant at Pittsburgh until 1988.
Following that season, his first head coaching position came at UMass, where he led the Minutemen to a Final Four appearance in 1996; however, this appearance was vacated by the NCAA after a player was caught accepting gifts from agents.
After that season, Calipari made the jump to the NBA, where he served as the head coach for the New Jersey Nets from 1996-1999 and an assistant coach for the Philadelphia 76ers in 2000.
Returning to the collegiate level in 2000, Calipari was the head coach at Memphis, where he led the program to another Final Four appearance in 2008, which was also vacated by the NCAA after they had found one of its players’ took a fraudulent SAT. Over the course of his years at the school, the Tigers would win 4 straight C-USA titles.
In 2009, Calipari would take the job at Kentucky, where he has produced a National Championship in 2012, six SEC titles, and four Final Four appearances.
One of the most decorated coaches in all of sports, John Calipari has been named the Naismith College Coach of the Year in 1996, 2008, and 2015; the AP Coach of the Year in 2015; SEC Coach of the Year in 2010, 2012, 2015, and 2020; C-USA Coach of the Year in 2006, 2008, and 2009, and the A10 Coach of the Year in 1993, 1994, and 1996.
For his accomplishments throughout his career, Calipari was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015, and he continues to serve as the head coach at Kentucky in 2021.