College basketball coaches who move to the NBA have had mixed fortunes of late. Brad Stevens and Billy Donovan seamlessly transitioned, while Fred Hoiberg’s stint with the Chicago Bulls was a mess.

Just being a coach whose teams sit at the top of college basketball odds on a regular basis doesn’t mean they can translate that success to the NBA. 

Coaching NBA players requires different management skills. Managing rotations and drawing up effective plays can be more challenging. 

Here are five college basketball coaches who could be the next in line to make the move to the NBA.

Jay Wright

Head coach of Villanova since 2001, Jay Wright has played a pivotal role in the development of numerous NBA players, including Josh Hart and Jalen Brunson. 

His greatest success story of late is probably Mikal Bridges, who was infamously traded from the Sixers to the Suns and played a major part in Phoenix’s run to the Finals.

Previously linked with NBA jobs, it’s unclear if Wright would accept an offer from the pros. He’s clearly very loyal to Villanova, and continues to enjoy the college game, having six times won Big East Coach of the Year.

Penny Hardaway

Recently confirmed for a fourth season with Memphis, Penny Hardaway was consistently linked with the Orlando Magic job after Steve Clifford’s departure.

Apparently impressing in his interview with his former team, Hardaway is clearly open to coaching in the NBA, but he’s sticking with the Tigers for now.

The former All-Star point guard said, "One day it would be a dream to coach in the NBA, and the Orlando Magic, but we still (have) unfinished business at Memphis.”

Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett has been Virginia’s head coach since 2009. The former Hornets point guard led his team, featuring De’Andre Hunter, Kyle Guy, and Ty Jerome, to the national title in 2019.

Whether he can coach an effective NBA offense has always been the big question with Bennett. He’s got the right mentality to work well with NBA players, though, and a front office could take a chance on him in the next few years.

Matt Painter

Matt Painter has been a cheat code. His motion offense has guaranteed Purdue being one of the best scoring teams in college basketball since he took over in 2005. 

They have been the Big Ten’s best regular season team three times in that span, including 2017 and 2019.

His tournament results have been up and down, but that can be attributed to a lack of elite talent. He’s coached just nine NBA players at Purdue, and only two of those have gone in the first round (Caleb Swanigan and JaJuan Johnson).

Mark Few

Helping change the entire perception of Gonzaga, Mark Few has made the Bulldogs into constant Tournament contenders. He was an assistant from 1989 until 1999, before ascending to the role of head coach.

Few is a 14-time WCC Coach of the Year and coached a dominant Bulldogs squad in 2021.  
Owning the highest winning percentage of any coach to have been in charge of 600 or more games, Few has built a remarkable resume.

If the success continues, links to the NBA are inevitable, even if it’s unlikely Few accepts a job offer. 


Low price, available in multiple styles and colors!