Sunday, May 19, 2024

College basketball coaching changes tracker 2024: Wyoming hires Sundance Wicks from Green Bay

The coaching carousel had its 66th job change, with Wicks replacing Jeff Linder, who left to be an assistant at Texas Tech

NCAA Basketball: Green Bay at Oklahoma

What a cataclysmic winter-into-spring we just had on the college basketball coaching carousel. 

While the 2021, 2022 and 2023 carousel tours were plenty noisy/historic in their own rights (reminder: North Carolina, Duke, Villanova, Arizona, Louisville, Indiana, Marquette, Maryland, Texas (twice) and Syracuse all had swaps in the past three seasons), I’ve gotta say, 2024 tops those years. The cycle is officially one of the most memorable and meaningful we’ve ever seen. Then, when you factor in the past three years on top of 2024, it’s easy to make the case the sport has undergone greater symbolic change in its coaching ranks than ever before in such a short period of time.

And just when we all thought we were done, no: Jeff Linder left Wyoming to be the top assistant at Texas Tech. Wyoming ranks among the toughest Mountain West jobs and TTU coach Grant McCasland was able to afford Linder a raise as is — so he gets something of a professional upgrade. That opened a window for Sundance Wicks, who was previously an assistant at Wyoming under Linder, to return to his stomping grounds and be the next coach of the Cowboys. The announcement was official Monday morning, leaving Green Bay on the clock to fill the 66th vacancy of this year’s cycle.

Previously …

A major factor in 2024 being legendary is the change in leadership at Kentucky. When a blue blood suddenly opens up on the eve of the national championship game, it’s a kaboom. To think, that was induced because Eric Musselman bolted for USC two days before the Final Four. (Which was its own tempest of a news cycle that has been swallowed up in all that’s happened since.) John Calipari’s retreat out of Kentucky was an earthquake and overshadowed the build-up to UConn’s back-to-back championships in the hours before the Huskies waltzed past Purdue on April 8.

As a result, Calipari’s exodus to Arkansas will bring increased intrigue to the sport next season. Spicy stuff in the SEC. Calipari managed to convince Kenny Payne to join his staff as the top assistant, which ups the fascination level in Fayetteville.

Thankfully, Kentucky didn’t take long to fill after Scott Drew and Dan Hurley passed on the job. In Cal’s place is 51-year-old Mark Pope, who will outdo Calipari’s energy in Lexington. Pope left BYU for his alma mater and is yet another alumnus taking over at a high-profile basketball institution. Initial response on Pope’s hiring was mixed, but Big Blue Nation quickly flocked to form and filled Rupp Arena to capacity for his introductory press conference Sunday afternoon. An incredible scene that’s a testament to that fan base’s immeasurable passion.

Kentucky taking Pope meant that the final power-conference job to fill was BYU. It didn’t take long to fill. Kevin Young, the lead assistant the past three seasons for the Phoenix Suns, is the next coach of the Cougars. A source said Young has a seven-year deal in the vicinity of $30 million — by far the biggest financial commitment in basketball in BYU history. For the full story on why and how BYU got Young to say yes (and doing so while breaking its own traditional hiring rules in the process) check out the details here. I also have more below.

We officially locked up all coaching vacancies over the weekend. Here’s an expansive look at the ’24 carousel, which has 66 job switches (that’s 18.2% of D-I) this cycle. 

Major-conference changes

Non-Big Six changes

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