Mixed results for college coaches with NBA roots

Mark Price was a four-time All-Star with Cleveland. Mitch Stringer/USA TODAY Sports

Mark Price was fired at Charlotte just nine games into his third season, prompting some to decree that this is further evidence ex-NBA guys don't work in the college ranks.

While Price -- a four-time NBA All-Star -- isn't the first and won't be the last of those who didn't succeed at the college level. Others have made the transition work, whether it was as a former player, an NBA coach or even from the front office in the professional ranks.

Fred Hoiberg put Iowa State back on the national map after the Mayor went from the NBA's front office back to Ames. Dan Majerle had never coached in college before taking over at Grand Canyon, a little-known spot where he has won 49 games the past two seasons and could wind up getting to the NCAA tourney in the program's first season eligible to do so. Eric Musselman is on track to get Nevada to its second consecutive NCAA appearance.

Avery Johnson didn't have any experience in college before arriving in Tuscaloosa in April of 2015. He's got two of the best guards in the country, and should get the Crimson Tide to the NCAA tournament this season for the second time since 2006. Larry Krystkowiak had college coaching experience, but stepped into the NBA for five seasons before taking the Utah job -- and the Utes have thrived in his tenure.

Then there are those who haven't gotten it done. Price joins a list over the past decade that also includes Eddie Jordan (Rutgers), Isiah Thomas (Florida International), Jerome Allen (Penn), Clemon Johnson (Florida A&M) and Paul Cormier (Dartmouth).

Kevin Ollie's status has changed dramatically since winning the national title in his second season at UConn, and there's just not enough evidence to pass judgment on Patrick Ewing (Georgetown), Chris Mullin (St. John's), Mike Dunleavy Sr. (Tulane), Damon Stoudamire (Pacific) or Terry Porter (Portland) just yet.

Here's a look at the coaches with NBA connections hired over the past 10 years:


Fred Hoiberg (Iowa State): The Mayor was hired at his alma mater after a stint in the Minnesota Timberwolves' front office. Hoiberg took the Cyclones to the NCAA tourney in four of his five seasons before being hired by the Chicago Bulls in 2015.

Bobby Hurley (Buffalo and Arizona State): Hurley's NBA playing career was cut short due to injury, and he joined his brother, Dan, on the staff at Wagner and Rhode Island before he was hired as the head coach at Buffalo. He took the Bulls to the NCAA tourney in his second season and was hired by Arizona State, where he has the Sun Devils rolling.

Avery Johnson (Alabama): Was the head coach of the Dallas Mavericks and the Brooklyn Nets, and was hired at Alabama in 2015 after spending a few years at ESPN. The Crimson Tide won 18 and 19 games his first two seasons, but he has added a couple of terrific freshmen in Collin Sexton and John Petty, who should get the team back to the NCAA tournament this season.

Larry Krystkowiak (Utah): Spent a decade in the NBA as a player, and then was an assistant and head coach in college. Left Montana in 2006 after two seasons as head coach (both NCAA tourney appearances) to join the Milwaukee Bucks as an assistant. Then had a short stint as Milwaukee's head coach, was on the Nets' staff in 2010 before being hired back in college at Utah. He has gone to two NCAA tournaments and a pair of NITs in the past four seasons with the Utes.

Dan Majerle (Grand Canyon): Thunder Dan took over a program five years ago that hasn't been eligible for the NCAA tournament until this season. Majerle, who came over from an assistant spot with the Phoenix Suns, has done an impressive job thus far, winning an average of 20 games over his first four seasons.

Eric Musselman (Nevada): There have been many coaching stops, but Musselman spent much of his career in the NBA before joining Herb Sendek's staff in 2012 at Arizona State. He spent a year with Johnny Jones at LSU before being hired at Nevada -- where he has won 42 games in his first two seasons and went to the NCAA tourney last season.

Russell Turner (UC Irvine): Turner was an assistant at Wake Forest and at Stanford before going with Mike Montgomery to the NBA with the Golden State Warriors. He spent six years with the Warriors before returning to college at UC Irvine in 2010. He has taken the Anteaters to one NCAA tourney, two NIT and a couple of CIT (College Insider.com Postseason Tournament) appearances.

Bryce Drew (Valparaiso and Vanderbilt): Drew spent a half-dozen years in the NBA and also a couple of seasons in Europe as a player. Drew was hired to replace his dad at Valpo and took the program to two NCAA tourneys, two NITs and a CIT in five seasons at the helm. He was hired by Vanderbilt in 2016 and took the Commodores to the NCAA tournament in his first year.


Dan D'Antoni (Marshall): Mike's older brother played for the Thundering Herd and spent a year on staff with the program in 1970-71 before coaching in high school for 30 years. He then joined his brother's staff with the Suns, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers before being hired by his alma mater in 2014. The program's win total has increased each season and Marshall has won 22 C-USA games the past two years.

Danny Manning (Tulsa and Wake Forest): The former Kansas star spent more than a decade in the NBA before joining Bill Self's staff. He took Tulsa to the NCAA tourney before being plucked by Wake Forest -- where he has struggled to get that program going.

Scott Padgett (Samford): The former Kentucky big man spent about eight years in the NBA. He was an assistant at Manhattan and Samford before being elevated to the head spot in 2014. In Year 3, he took the program to the CIT and has it trending upward.

Roller-coaster ride

Larry Brown (SMU): Brown was head coach at UCLA and Kansas, but also made several stops in the NBA and the ABA. SMU hired him in 2012 and he made the program relevant again -- both on and off the court. He took SMU to the NCAA tourney in 2015, but also got the program banned from postseason play the next year. Resigned in July 2016.

Kevin Ollie (UConn): The revered former UConn guard bounced around as an NBA player, and joined Jim Calhoun's staff in 2010. When Calhoun was forced to step away due to health concerns, Ollie got the interim and later the full-time job. He won the national title in 2013-14, but the Huskies program has been fairly irrelevant since. Now he has some heat on him after a 16-17 mark last season and a slow start this season.

Jim Les (Bradley and UC Davis): Les played for four franchises in the NBA and was hired by his alma mater, Bradley, in 2002. In nine seasons, he was 154-140 with one NCAA tourney appearance in 2006. He's been at UC Davis the past six years and has a 87-104 mark with an NCAA tourney appearance last season.


Jerome Allen (Penn): Allen was a star at the school in the early 1990s, and then played primarily in Europe. He was hired as an assistant at Penn in 2009, and became the interim after Glen Miller was fired. The interim tag was lifted in March of 2010, and after a 65-104 record, he was out and is now an assistant for Brad Stevens with the Boston Celtics.

Bill Bayno (Loyola Marymount): Bayno started his career in the college ranks, and is best-known for being an assistant with John Calipari at UMass -- and then the head coach at UNLV from 1995 to 2000. Bayno was hired at LMU in 2008 following a three-year stint in the NBA as an assistant with Portland, but he stepped away after just three games.

Jeff Bzdelik (Wake Forest): Bzdelik began his coaching career at Davidson (1978-80) and Northwestern (1980-86) before becoming the head coach at UMBC for two seasons. Bzdelik spent the next 16 years in the NBA as an assistant, scout and Denver Nuggets head coach ('02-04) before returning to college in 2005 at Air Force. After three season at Air Force, he spent three more years as the head coach at Colorado. He was hired at Wake in 2010 and went 51-76 overall, 17-51 in the ACC. He resigned in March 2014 and has since landed back in the NBA as an assistant.

Paul Cormier (Dartmouth): Cormier was an assistant at Bentley and Villanova, and head coach at Dartmouth (1984-91) and Fairfield (1991-98) before spending more than a decade in the NBA as an assistant and a scout. Cormier was hired for his second stint at Dartmouth in 2010, and won just 23 Ivy league contests in six seasons before being let go.

Clemon Johnson (Florida A&M): Won an NBA title with the Sixers in 1983, and also played with three more NBA franchises. Was the head coach at Alaska Fairbanks from 2007 to 2011 before being hired by his alma mater at FAMU. He was fired in 2014 after a 32-64 mark in three seasons.

Eddie Jordan (Rutgers): Jordan starred at Rutgers back in the 1970s, and was a college assistant at Boston College and Rutgers in the late '80s and early '90s, but he had been in the NBA as an assistant and head coach for more than two decades prior to being hired by his alma mater in 2013. He was fired after three years and just 29 victories.

Kevin O'Neill (USC): He had plenty of college coaching experience early in his career as both an assistant and head coach with Marquette, Tennessee and Northwestern. O'Neill was in the NBA from 2000 to 2006 before spending a year as the interim at Arizona. Then he was an assistant back in the NBA for one season before being hired at USC in 2009 -- where he was 45-61 overall and 19-35 in the Pac-12.

Mark Price (Charlotte): Price was a former NBA standout who spent plenty of time as an assistant in the league before being hired by athletic director Judy Rose in 2015. But just two years and nine games later, Price was fired on Thursday in a surprise move.

Isiah Thomas (Florida International): The former NBA great was a head coach in the NBA with the Indiana Pacers and Knicks. He was the owner of the CBA, a broadcaster and then shockingly took the job as the head coach of FIU in 2009. It was a three-year stint that resulted in just 26 wins before he was fired.

Corliss Williamson (Central Arkansas): The former Arkansas star played in the NBA for more than a decade before getting into college coaching as an assistant at Arkansas Baptist in 2007. He spent two years as an assistant before being elevated for one season, then he was hired at Central Arkansas. Williamson was 26-62 in three years before going back to the NBA as an assistant in Sacramento.


Jeff Bower (Marist): Bower had college coaching experience, but it was a while ago -- from 1983-86 at Penn State and 1986-95 at Marist. He was a former general manager of the New Orleans Hornets, and also was the head coach for 73 games in 2009. Bower spent one season at Marist (12-19 in 2013-14) before becoming the GM of the Detroit Pistons.

Hanging on

Michael Curry (FAU): Was an assistant coach for Detroit and also the head coach of the Pistons for 82 games, and was also an assistant with the Philadelphia 76ers. He won a total of 27 games over his first three seasons with FAU.

Reggie Theus (Cal State Northridge): Was a big-time scorer in the NBA and bounced around as a coach between the college ranks -- as an assistant at Louisville and a head coach at New Mexico State -- to the NBA as the head coach of the Sacramento Kings and an assistant with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He's 39-89 at Northridge so far.

Too soon to tell

Mike Dunleavy Sr., (Tulane): Was an NBA head coach with the Lakers, Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers and LA Clippers. Had never been a college coach before being hired at Tulane in 2016. The Green Wave were 6-25 in his first season.

Patrick Ewing (Georgetown): Former Hoyas great was hired in 2017 after spending 15 years as an NBA assistant coach. He hasn't had any experience in the college ranks as a coach, and has started out well despite playing an embarrassingly poor nonconference schedule.

Donyell Marshall (Central Connecticut State): Former UConn star played in the NBA for 15 years before becoming a college assistant coach. Made brief stops at George Washington, Rider and Buffalo before being hired at Central Connecticut in 2016. Went 6-23 in his first season a year ago.

Chris Mullin (St. John's): Mullin returned in 2015 to his alma mater, where he starred in the early 1980s. His experience after he retired from the NBA was in the front office and on television. The Red Storm were 8-24 his first season, 14-19 last year and have gotten off to an 8-2 start this season.

Terry Porter (Portland): Played in the NBA and was also head coach with the Bucks and Suns, but had never spent any time coaching in the college ranks prior to taking the Portland job in 2016. The Pilots won 11 games in his first season.

Damon Stoudamire (Pacific): Played more than a decade in the NBA, and also spent six years as an assistant in college prior to getting the head job at Pacific in 2016. He had two stints at Memphis, and was also an assistant for Sean Miller at Arizona. Pacific was 11-22 in his first season.