5 coaches who aren’t walking through that door in Lexington to take the Kentucky job

With John Calipari gone after 15 years at the helm in Lexington, Mitch Barnhart needs to find his replacement. While Kentucky is a blue blood, it won't be able to pry these five coaches away from their current gigs.
Connecticut Huskies head coach Dan Hurley
Connecticut Huskies head coach Dan Hurley / Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

There may not be a more appealing job in all of college basketball than head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats. A lot of pressure comes with it, but three of the school’s last four head coaches have won a national title and Kentucky has won eight in total with 17 trips to the Final Four. 

Now that the unhappy, and over the last half-decade unfruitful, marriage between Kentucky and John Calipari is finally over, Big Blue Nation can begin to speculate about who athletic director Mitch Barnhart will get as Kentucky’s next head basketball coach. 

When a blue blood needs a head coach, it can feel like the options are endless, but there aren’t many proven winners to choose from in the college game, and it’ll be difficult to entice an NBA coach to drop back down to the chaotic landscape of college sports. Kentucky’s options could be limited to guys like Scott Drew from Baylor and Nate Oats from Alabama because we can be quite sure that these five current or former college basketball head coaches aren’t walking through that door. 

5. Brad Stevens. . 2021-Current. Brad Stevens. Brad Stevens. 18. . President of Basketball Operations. player

Stevens is on the cusp of finally winning an NBA title as the President of Basketball Operations of the Boston Celtics after assembling the best roster in the NBA. If Stevens didn’t leave his post to take over the Hoosiers back home in Indiana when the job was open two years ago, then you can almost guarantee he won’t be returning to college basketball at all. 

2020-Current. . player. Billy Donovan. . 4. Head Coach. Billy Donovan. Billy Donovan. 24

Billy Donovan took his first Division I head coaching job at 29 years old, and after just two years at Marshall, he went to Florida and built a powerhouse. Over his 19 seasons in Gainesville, he amassed 465 wins with two national championships and four Final Fours. 

Donovan hasn’t coached in college since 2015, when he made the jump to the NBA to take over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Since then, he’s stuck in the league with nearly a decade between OKC and Chicago, where he’s now in his fourth season leading the Bulls. There is no reason for him to return to the college game, with all the uncertainty that the NIL and transfer portal era have brought since he left. 

Jay Wright. . Head Coach. 2001-22. Jay Wright. 3. player. Jay Wright. . 479

The former Villanova head coach retired at just 60 years old for the same reason that many other coaching legends in college sports like Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, and Nick Saban did. With NIL demands growing and the transfer portal as leverage, college coaches not only have to recruit high schoolers and transfers but also their own roster, each year. It’s that 24/7 grind that is driving coaches to the pros or to the TV, and Wright chose the latter. Even if he did get the itch, it’s hard to imagine the Philadelphia native coming back for any other job than his old one. 

Dan Hurley. Dan Hurley. Head Coach. 892. . Dan Hurley. 2. . 2018-Current. player

Danny Hurley is about to win his second straight national championship at UConn and be cemented as one of the greatest college basketball coaches of all time. To go back-to-back after losing nearly his entire starting lineup from a year ago and return better is unthinkable, and he did that at UConn. There is no amount of resources that Kentucky could provide that would produce better results than that. 

Hurley should have been Barnhart’s first phone call once Calipari left, but he’s not going anywhere. Hurley may play Kentucky for a raise to stay in Storrs, but he’s deserving of one regardless after his last two seasons. 

. player. Rick Pitino. 1. 478. Rick Pitino. Head Coach. . 2023-Current. Rick Pitino

He’s been there and done that, and would probably even be interested in coming back, but Kentucky cannot be so desperate for a head coach that it replaces a 65-year-old with a 71-year-old. How many years would the Wildcats realistically get out of Pitino? Four? Five? Then it’s time to hop back on the coaching carousel again. As fun as it would be, Kentucky will not hire Rick Pitino.

Kentucky might not get one of these big-name coaches, but it could pick a winner, and you can do the same thanks to the new-user offer at DraftKings. You'll instantly get $150 in bonus bets if you sign up, deposit $10 or more and then bet $5 or more on any game this week! Click this link to sign up with DraftKings today!

Nate Oats early favorite to replace Calipari. Nate Oats early favorite to replace Calipari. dark. Next