All-Decade: Best recruiters in coming decade
John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams and Leonard Hamilton headlined the top recruiter list of the past decade. Chances are, most will be retired by the time 2030 arrives, which may shuffle things throughout the 2020s atop the college hoops world. A few up-and-comers and another group of graybeards will likely remain at their current employers as we project the top-10 recruiters over the next 10 years.
Chris Beard, Texas Tech
Whether he does it at Texas Tech or elsewhere, Chris Beard will be among the best recruiters in the coming years. What he has done in Lubbock is nothing short of eye-popping. While the success on the floor is impressive, the Red Raiders are absolutely rolling on the recruiting front.
For a program that has never enrolled a five-star prospect, Texas Tech has now achieved consecutive recruiting classes with such a coveted commitment, and that doesn’t reflect the additional work Beard has done via the transfer wire. Texas Tech is not going away, that is unless Beard chooses a different employer. But he is among the top-10 highest paid coaches in the game, and the Red Raiders should be elite for the foreseeable future.
John Calipari - Kentucky
There is a lot of what-ifs with John Calipari when it comes to him finishing the next decade among the top recruiters of talent. But even if he just spends five more seasons in the college game, chances are that Cal will still be among the top-10 recruiters in the sport by the time 2030 arrives.
Maybe high school seniors are given the chance to jump directly to the NBA and a few up-and-comers pass up Cal on the recruiting trail but, as 2020 nears, Calipari’s recruiting tactics remain elite. He is set to enroll the nation’s top recruiting class next fall and while Coach K (age 72), Roy Williams (69) and Leonard Hamilton (71) may be retired in 10 years, Calipari (60) may have staying power as a new decade approaches.
Chris Mack - Louisville
The work Chris Mack has done since taking over the Louisville program is impressive keeping in mind the NCAA penalties he inherited. Sitting among the select few that could win the national title in April, Mack has positioned his team among the nation's best thanks to his work on the recruiting trail and the transfer market.
After enrolling a top-10 recruiting class this fall which could bring Mack his first ever one-and-done in Samuell Williamson, Louisville followed with another super strong class that features the talents of one of the top junior college players, Jayden Scrubb. This will likely become the norm for the third-year Louisville coach, who has made his program sexy again, allowing for it to be a landing spot for the best talent nationally.
Chris Holtmann - Ohio State
If Chris Holtmann wants to find himself among the top-10 recruiters in 10 years, he has to increase his five-star enrollment numbers, but there is a strong chance he will.
Regarded as one of the top up-and-coming coaches in the sport, will Holtmann remain at Ohio State for the next decade? Ohio State is one of the best jobs in the sport, but Holtmann could get an opportunity at a true blueblood program.
Ohio State just enrolled three top-50 prospects this fall and has notched a slew of four-star commitments in the 2020 and 2021 classes. With a state that is never at a loss for talent, Holtmann is set for a run in the coming years.
Will Wade - LSU
Some may laugh, and sure, there is a plethora of questions regarding Will Wade’s job security, but if he is not fired in part due to the FBI wiretap where he is quoted as saying he made a 'strong-ass offer' to a recruit, there is a solid chance that he is among the best recruiters in the game, if he isn’t already.
The Tigers have secured at least one top-40 commitment during each of his four years as head coach. He has done it by not only enrolling the best from his state, as in Javonte Smart, but also those outside of his general locale as in Tremont Waters, Nazreon Reid and, most recently, Trendon Watford. Questions will continue to swirl around Wade’s longevity at LSU but, as things sit now, Wade will continue to kill it on the recruiting front.
Sean Miller - Arizona
The NCAA hit Bill Self with a number of allegations and many believe a slew of similar penalties could be headed toward Sean Miller. In the meantime, and as long as Miller is the head coach at Arizona, recruiting wins will continue be celebrated in Tucson.
Miller got the ball rolling during his time at Xavier but took a giant leap in the recruiting rankings when he headed west. Dominating his region with the enrollments of Aaron Gordon, Brandon Ashley, and Nick Johnson, the Wildcats then went national with their recruiting efforts.
Following the arrest of assistant coach Book Richardson, Arizona circled back to dominating the West Coast which it did last recruiting cycle with Josh Green and Nico Mannion. More will follow suit and as long as Miller’s job remains secure, will continue to dominate his niche out west.
Tom Crean - Georgia
Tom Crean found himself on the best recruiters of the past decade list and has the chance to do it again. Although he is no longer at Indiana, he is embedded in a state that is ripe for talent each year. In the 2019 class, it was Anthony Edwards choosing the Bulldogs. While asking for Crean to land such a coveted prospect every recruiting class may be a little too much, it would come as no surprise if UGA continually enrolled a handful of the best from the Peach State each fall. That would likely equate to consistent top-15 classes and place Crean among the best in the recruiting game.
Mike Hopkins - Washington
Hopkins has a short track record as a head coach, but since arriving in Seattle, Washington has become a landing spot for the best from the transfer front, and also those from the high school landscape.
Quade Green, a former McDonald’s All-American, and J’Raan Brooks, have each arrived, but both take a backseat to Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels, two top-10 prospects. The former hails from the East Coast, the other a stone’s throw from the UW campus, but they decided on Washington thanks to the outgoing nature and humility of Hopkins.
The Seattle area has become known for producing elite talent on a consistent basis and If Hopkins remains at UW, chances are the Huskies will continue to be a desirable spot for the best talent that the area, and even those outside of it, can provide.
Bruce Pearl - Auburn
Say what you want about Bruce Pearl, but he has done one of the better coaching jobs in the sport over the past five years and at a football-first school. While that can be derived from his ability to cultivate under-the-radar talent, Pearl takes a backseat to no one on the recruiting trail.
He found success at Tennessee before he served a three-year show-cause penalty for recruiting violations. He jumped back into it immediately, hitting on a number of key targets throughout his time at Auburn. He won the recruitments of Mustapha Heron and Austin Wiley and then followed up with Chuma Okeke, Danjel Purifoy, Isaac Okoro and, just this fall, five-star guard Sharife Cooper.
Pearl has done an amazing job of pin-pointing exact regions and targets in those areas to recruit and because of it, looks to be one of the top recruiters as the 2020s approach.
Kevin Keatts - NC State
An up-and-coming name at the beginning of the decade, Keatts was attempting to figure out how to make his Hargrave Military Academy program the best in the prep world. Moving on to the assistant coaching position at Louisville, before then taking the UNC-Wilmington head coaching job, Keatts has never been afraid to chase after the best that his state has to provide.
Sitting with a top-10 class this fall, Keatts was expected to enroll Jalen Lecque before he decided to enter the NBA Draft before his college career even began. However, he followed up such a prized commitment with that of Josh Hall this week.
While he may never be able to consistently defeat Duke or North Carolina for the elite talent nearby, it would seem that a five-star recruiting win might become a consistent theme at NC State and place Keatts on the short list for blueblood coaching openings down the road.