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West Virginia Coaching Candidates to Succeed Bob Huggins

There are several possible hires with ties to the school and Huggins, but West Virginia may opt to wipe the slate clean in the wake of Huggins’s hasty resignation.

The sudden resignation of Hall of Famer Bob Huggins, done unceremoniously hours after news of his arrest for driving under the influence broke, has created a major late coaching vacancy in college basketball. Huggins was the steward of his alma mater’s basketball program for 16 years and helped further elevate it into a highly coveted job. Now, he departs at a delicate point in the offseason, leaving a new coach with work to do to retain a talented roster built mostly through the transfer portal this spring.

Timing aside, the fundamentals for this job are strong. The commitment from an NIL standpoint has been excellent, there’s a history of success in Morgantown and the Big 12 is the nation’s best basketball conference. Here’s a look at some top potential candidates for the job.

Josh Eilert or Ron Everhart, West Virginia

Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde reported West Virginia’s intent is to find its long-term leader this summer, but the circumstances are such that an internal candidate (whether interim or long-term) is worth mentioning. WVU could go two different routes there: Everhart, who’s older but has head coaching experience at McNeese State, Northeastern and Duquesne, and Eilert, a younger option with perhaps more long-term upside. If a full search isn’t fruitful, a one-year commitment to one of these two in an attempt to keep the roster together makes sense.

Youngstown State coach Jerrod Calhoun

Jerrod Calhoun worked under Bob Huggins before taking over at Youngstown State, where he led the Penguins to their first-ever Horizon League regular season conference championship last season.

Jerrod Calhoun, Youngstown State

While his overall record at Youngstown State doesn’t stand out, Calhoun has arguably the worst job in the Horizon League on a clear upward trajectory, winning 24 games this past season. He also worked at West Virginia under Huggins and had a highly successful run in the state at Division-II Fairmont State. Calhoun’s offenses are fun to watch, and he’s well-connected both at this program and in the state. There wouldn’t be much flash involved in this hire, but Calhoun has been in the mix for multiple jobs this spring and would have a chance to be very successful at a position with the resources WVU possesses.

Ben McCollum, Northwest Missouri State

The D-II coaching superstar has long been due for a chance at a higher level, winning three national championships in the last five years and losing just 10 total games in that span. It’s a massive jump from that level to the best league in college basketball, but from an X-and-O’s standpoint, McCollum certainly wouldn’t be overmatched. Plus, West Virginia AD Wren Baker was McCollum’s boss early in his tenure at Northwest Missouri State and has spoken glowingly in the past about him, saying he could coach “any league, any level, the highest of levels.” This would be a big swing, but could be a worthwhile one.

John Beilein, Detroit Pistons

The 70-year-old Beilein has said it would take “the perfect opportunity” for him to strongly consider a return to college coaching. Does this qualify? He took WVU to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament twice during his five-year tenure from 2002–07, and could inherit a loaded roster this time around rather than having to rebuild. This would be a short-term solution given Beilein’s age, but he’s still among the sport’s best coaches. It’s worth at least gauging his interest in a return, however long the odds may be.

Andy Kennedy, UAB

Kennedy has often been speculated about as Huggins’s eventual successor in Morgantown given his ties to the Hall of Fame coach. The unceremonious ending to the Huggins era may complicate things, though Kennedy’s résumé does deserve consideration on its own merits. He made just two NCAA tournaments in 12 seasons at Ole Miss, but elevated that program from the doldrums of the SEC to respectability. He has since done admirable work at UAB, with three 20-win seasons and a trip to the NIT title game in 2023.

Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes

Steve Forbes compiled a .751 winning percentage in five years at East Tennessee State before moving to Wake Forest and winning the ACC’s Coach of the Year award for the 2021–22 season.

Steve Forbes, Wake Forest

If there’s a logical candidate among sitting high-major coaches, it might be Forbes. He has won everywhere he has been, including in some challenging locales comparable to Morgantown. He’d also be a great personality fit in the state. West Virginia’s strong NIL investment could make it attractive enough to consider leaving Wake Forest, where Forbes has brought the program back to relevancy but has yet to make the NCAA tournament. The timing might not be quite right, but he’s at least worth a call.

Darris Nichols, Radford

A four-year contributor at WVU under Beilein and Huggins, Nichols’s ties to this job are strong. Plus, he’s coming off a 21-win second season at Radford. That said, there’s a major looming obstacle to his candidacy: Nichols pled guilty to DUI earlier this year in Virginia and is due back in court after testing positive for alcohol on an ignition interlock system installed as part of his plea deal. That would seem disqualifying given the reasons for Huggins’s resignation.

Pat Kelsey, College of Charleston

Expect to hear Kelsey’s name consistently for high-major jobs until he eventually takes one. The Cincinnati native is coming off a 31-win second season at College of Charleston and is just two years removed from a 23–2 season at Winthrop. His energy is infectious and would provide a positive jolt to the program in the post-Huggins era. He’s been well-compensated at Charleston but belongs in the conversation here.

Jeff Boals, Ohio

Boals is one of multiple MAC coaches (Rob Senderoff, Tod Kowalczyk) who could be mentioned here. The pitch: Boals won an NCAA tournament game at 2021 and tallied 25 wins in 2022 before the Bobcats won 19 this past season. Plus, he spent eight years in the state as a staffer at Marshall and D-II Charleston. He doesn’t have quite the same momentum he did a year or two ago, but Boals is still an accomplished mid-major coach and could be worth a look here.

Takayo Siddle, UNC Wilmington

Siddle has won 51 games in the last two seasons at UNCW, quickly turning around a program that had fallen on hard times. He’s well-connected in recruiting and a sharp tactician, building a top-100 defense this past season at UNCW. Siddle is likely to be on the lists of plenty of ACC programs in coming years, but could make sense for this vacancy as the Mountaineers work their way through mid-major head coaching candidates.