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Eight Men’s Basketball Coaches Who Could Replace Chris Holtmann at Ohio State

Xavier’s Sean Miller and Florida Atlantic’s Dusty May will be popular names during the coaching carousel.

The Ohio State Buckeyes made the first big move of the men’s basketball coaching carousel Wednesday, parting ways with Chris Holtmann hours after a 62–54 loss to the Wisconsin Badgers that marked the team’s ninth loss in the last 11 games, Sports Illustrated confirms.

Holtmann, who had the unenviable task of following Thad Matta in Columbus, started his tenure strong, but things went downhill after his team lost as a No. 2 seed to the No. 15 Oral Roberts Golden Eagles in the 2021 NCAA tournament. He followed that up with a middling 20–12 campaign in ’22, then bottomed out the next two seasons. Save for a run to the Big Ten semifinals after a 5–15 league season in 2022–’23, Holtmann cratered in league play in consecutive seasons. That was enough to prompt a change, one that could cost the Buckeyes around $14 million in buyout money.

The move comes at an interesting time for Ohio State. Longtime athletic director Gene Smith is retiring as of June 30, with current Texas A&M AD Ross Bjork set to take over on July 1. SI’s Pat Forde reported that Smith, not Bjork, made the decision to dismiss Holtmann.

Here’s a look at whom Ohio State might consider as its next head coach.

Sean Miller, Xavier Musketeers

Miller has gotten Xavier back on track after the Travis Steele era, taking the Musketeers to the Sweet 16 in his first season and keeping them competitive in Year 2 despite brutal injury luck. Would a return to a massive job like the one he held at Arizona entice him? Miller’s recruiting pedigree is strong, and while he never broke through to a Final Four in Tucson, he did reach the second weekend three times in four years at one point with a pair of Elite Eight trips mixed in.

Xavier Musketeers head coach Sean Miller instructs Musketeers forward Abou Ousmane to go to the locker room after fouling out in the second half of a college basketball game against the St. John's Red Storm on Jan. 31, 2024, at Cintas Center in Cincinnati. The Xavier Musketeers won, 88-77.

Miller has gotten Xavier back on track and has a strong recruiting pedigree.

Greg McDermott, Creighton Bluejays

McDermott was heavily involved in this job the last time it opened. Will he be again this time? The longtime Creighton coach has continued to elevate the Bluejays program, taking them to the Elite Eight for the first time last season and establishing them as a fixture near the top of the Big East. The Jays are set for their fourth top-25 KenPom finish in the last five seasons, a remarkable feat for a program still in its relative infancy at the high-major level. Could he be wooed away from a place he has spent almost 15 years? With the right offer, maybe.

Lamont Paris, South Carolina Gamecocks

Paris may well win National Coach of the Year this season after executing a remarkable turnaround at South Carolina, flipping the Gamecocks from SEC bottom-feeders in his first season to legitimate contenders this season. He’s also an Ohio native with Big Ten roots from his time as an assistant coach under Bo Ryan with the Wisconsin Badgers. It might be a bit early on this one for both parties: Ohio State may want a longer track record of success, and Paris may want to see through building this South Carolina program. But this season’s success makes him an intriguing name to consider, if nothing else.

Dusty May, Florida Atlantic Owls

You can pencil in May’s name on every high-level athletic director’s call list this spring after he led Florida Atlantic to the Final Four a year ago. Maintaining that level of success this season has only continued to boost the 47-year-old’s stock. This offseason feels like the time for May to leave FAU given several key pieces from the Owls’ veteran core are likely to move on, and this figures to be one of the best jobs on the market. That said, there has been plenty of speculation about May, a former Indiana Hoosiers manager, one day returning to Bloomington, Indiana. Is he willing to wait out the Mike Woodson era rather than jump at a job like OSU? 

Florida Atlantic Owls coach Dusty May looks on from the sideline against the North Texas Mean Green during the first half at Eleanor R. Baldwin Arena in Boca Raton, Fla., on Jan. 28, 2024.

May will be on the radar for every high-level coaching job this spring.

Niko Medved, Colorado State Rams

Few coaches are better program-builders than Medved, who has executed massive turnarounds with the Furman Paladins, Drake Bulldogs and now Colorado State in Fort Collins, Colorado. He built an NCAA tournament team in 2022, then reloaded after a down ’23 to put together a team with the potential to make noise in March this season. Give him the recruiting resources of Ohio State, and he’d build an excellent program in Columbus.

Porter Moser, Oklahoma Sooners

Despite Moser himself attempting to deny them, rumors have run rampant in recent years about Moser’s desire to get back to the Midwest. This would certainly be an attractive option, and likely just a better job overall, for the former Loyola Chicago coach. Moser went to one Final Four and another Sweet 16 while in Rogers Park, Illinois, and has built a strong team in his third season with the Sooners on track for a trip to the NCAA tournament.

Pat Kelsey, Charleston Cougars

The Ohio ties are strong here: Kelsey is a Cincinnati native who played and coached at Xavier. He’s an energizing personality who would do a good job capturing excitement at a football school, and he has a fairly strong track record of winning during his stops with the Winthrop Eagles and at Charleston. His name is a bit cooler this year compared to last season’s 31-win campaign, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s a factor in this search. If nothing else, he could be involved in the trickle-down from this vacancy, filling a job like Xavier or South Carolina if Miller or Paris, respectively, is the choice.

Josh Schertz, Indiana State Sycamores

Schertz is perhaps the most popular mid-major coaching name of the cycle thanks to his aesthetically pleasing offense and impressive turnaround of a dormant Indiana State program. He’s a former Division II coach who had tons of success at that level and has quickly built the Sycamores into an NCAA tournament–caliber team. This is maybe a bigger jump than what you might expect, but a Cinderella run could get him into the conversation here quickly.