With the Cleveland Cavaliers hiring former Michigan head coach John Beilein on Monday, it’s another example of a college coach making the leap to the NBA.
This makes three former college coaches now running the sidelines for an NBA franchise with Beilein joining Thunder head coach Billy Donovan and Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Donovan has led the Thunder to four consecutive playoff appearances since taking the position back in 2015 and while he hasn’t completely maximized the talent given to him (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Paul George), he has proven that he has been able to produce a winning team at both levels.
Same can be said for Brad Stevens who many thought wouldn’t be successful after making the jump after a successful six-year stint with Butler.
His first season only seen 25 wins with the Celtics but since then he has led the Celtics to five straight postseason appearances.
Both Donovan and Stevens are the only two that have made the jump in the past 25 years to have winning success in the NBA but there has been some that have lasted at least a few seasons before heading back to school.
Fred Hoiberg went from Iowa State to the Chicago Bulls in 2015 and lasted for three full seasons before getting fired 24 games into this past season. He has since been named the head coach at Nebraska.
The Bulls went to Iowa State for their head coach prior to Hoiberg back in the late 1990s when they hired Tim Floyd as the heir to Phil Jackson.
Floyd coached the Bulls from 1999 to 2001 compiling a record of 49-190. He also coached the New Orleans Hornets during the 2003-04 season taking them to the playoffs in his lone season.
Rick Pitino had two runs as a head coach in the NBA in between his legendary and controversial time as a college head coach.
In the late 1980s, he was the head coach of the New York Knicks for two seasons compiling a record of 90-74. Then from 1997 to 2001, he led the Boston Celtics but struggled during his three and a half seasons and resigned during the 2001 season with a 102-146 record during his tenure.
In between his college stints with Massachusetts and Memphis, John Calipari was the head coach and VP of basketball operations for the New Jersey Nets from 1996 to 1999 but was fired 20 games into the 1998-99 season after compiling a record of 72-112.
P.J. Carlesimo had his best success as a basketball coach when he at Seton Hall University from 1982 to 1994 but also gave his shot at the NBA and may be better known for that run for all the wrong reasons.
He coached the Portland Trail Blazers from 1994 to 1997 with three straight playoff appearances that all ended with first-round exits and he was subsequently fired.
Carlesimo then coached the Golden State Warriors for two and a half seasons compiling a 46-113 record. His tenure with the Warriors is likely remembered for when former NBA player Latrell Sprewell choked out Carlesimo during a practice.
Carlesimo also coached for the Seattle Supersonics/Oklahoma City Thunder and was Kevin Durant’s first NBA coach and then as the interim coach for the Brooklyn Nets during the 2012-13 season.
One name that didn’t jump from college straight to the NBA is Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder.
Snyder coached at Missouri from 1999 to 2006 before resigning. During his time with the Tigers compiling a 126-91 record with four tournament appearances.
After a stint as a G-League coach and time as an NBA assistant, he took the Jazz job in 2014 and has been solid during his time as a head coach including three consecutive playoff appearances during the last three seasons.
There are other examples out there of college coaches who haven’t been able to translate to the NBA level but above are some examples of coaches who were able and still are proving that they can coach on any level of basketball.
It all comes down to talent and whether or not that coach can utilize that talent to the best of their ability.
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