St. John's Introduces Rick Pitino
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College basketball's 2023 coaching carousel brought changes at 12 schools in major conferences, beginning with the in-season firing of Chris Beard at Texas and culminating several months later with the ending of Bob Huggins' West Virginia tenure. In between, brands such as Syracuse, Georgetown and St. John's also hired new coaches, shaking up the college basketball landscape entering the 2023-24 season.

The Hoyas poached Ed Cooley from Big East rival Providence, while the Red Storm lured 71-year-old Rick Pitino away from Iona and back to the national spotlight for one last high-profile gig to cap a storied career. Syracuse's hire fell under the radar by comparison, but Adrian "Red" Autry is in a historic position as the program's first coach not named Jim Boeheim since the mid-1970s. 

While the mass-transfer era has made it easier to rapidly rebuild a roster in some respects, it's also a double-edged sword. Players are more likely to leave amid a coaching change nowadays since they are allowed to transfer once without sitting out a season and can be eligible immediately following a second transfer if they have graduated.

Given the fluid nature of roster management, a delineation has emerged among the first-year coaches in college basketball. Some have quickly restocked the cupboard and look poised to compete this season, while others appear stuck in rebuilding mode for the foreseeable future. 

As the 2023-24 college basketball season creeps closer, here's a look at the five first-year coaches best-positioned for immediate success.

1. Rick Pitino | St. John's

St. John's hired Pitino in March, shortly after his Iona team was eliminated by UConn in the NCAA Tournament, and he wasted little time beginning a massive roster overhaul that produced impressive results. All significant contributors from the program's 2022-23 season are gone except for All-Big East big man Joel Soriano. Incoming are former Ivy League stars Jordan Dingle (Penn) and Chris Ledlum (Harvard), along with Pitino's all-MAAC point guard Daniss Jenkins from Iona. That's just the beginning. Former top 50 prospect Zuby Ejiofor is arriving from Kansas with three seasons of eligibility, and former Pac-12 All-Freshman wing Glenn Taylor Jr. is on the roster after averaging 11.6 points in the Pac-12. 

Throw in former Virginia Tech/UConn sharpshooter Nahiem Alleyne and highly touted freshman guard Simeon Wilcher and you've got the makings of an NCAA Tournament team. Mid-major transfers RJ Luis (UMass), Sean Conway (VMI), Cruz Davis (Iona) and Sadiku Ibine Ayo (Iona) will also challenge for playing time and give Pitino enviable depth.

Pitino's successful three-year run at Iona showed he still possesses a pristine coaching touch along with the drive to succeed in the cutthroat world of college basketball. He's been doing this at a high-level for decades, and he wasted no time assembling a high-ceiling roster that can compete with anyone in a brutal Big East.

2. Rodney Terry | Texas

Maybe some don't consider Terry a first-year coach after he stepped into the interim role in December and led the Longhorns for 30 games on their way to an Elite Eight appearance. But he wasn't hired for the full-time job until after Texas' elimination from the Big Dance, meaning other new coaches around the sport -- such as Pitino -- technically began their tenures before Terry.

Hiring Terry gave the Longhorns a leg up on retaining talent, and the returns of Tyrese Hunter, Dylan Disu and Dillon Mitchell provide Texas a solid nucleus of players from a team that won the Big 12 Tournament and made the program's deepest NCAA Tournament plunge since 2008. 

Terry complimented that core with a transfer class headlined by No. 2 overall transfer Max Abmas of Oral Roberts and former Virginia shot blocker Kadin Shedrick. Maybe it's true that Terry wouldn't have been considered for the Texas job if not for the allegations that led to predecessor Chris Beard's dismissal. But at least in the short-term, he's positioned Texas to remain a Big 12 contender and worthy of inclusion at No. 20 in Gary Parrish's Top 25 And 1 entering the season.

3. Kim English | Providence

Amid all the wrath directed at Ed Cooley for leaving his hometown school to go coach Big East rival Georgetown, which 2023-24 roster actually came out on top? The Friars look better equipped than the Hoyas to compete in the Big East this season after English, who replaced Cooley, retained stars Devin Carter and Bryce Hopkins from an NCAA Tournament squad.

English is also bringing All-Atlantic 10 first-teamer Josh Oduro from George Mason, which gives the Friars a solid nucleus of proven, veteran producers. Depending on the amount of team success that English can coax from the Friars, Hopkins could even be a Big East Player of the Year candidate after averaging 15.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists last season as a Kentucky transfer. 

Depth is a concern, and so is the fact that English is only 35 and has just two years of head coaching experience. But when you compare the rosters of Providence and Georgetown side by side, it appears the Friars won the breakup -- at least in the short term.

4. Mark Madsen | California

Will Cal make the 2024 NCAA Tournament? Let's not go that far. But relative to the 38-87 record posted by predecessor Mark Fox over four seasons, Madsen is poised to look like a miracle worker in his first season leading the Bears. Cal finished 3-29 last season while ranking No. 270 at KenPom and No. 315 in the NET. But with the Pac-12's No. 2 ranked transfer class arriving and leading scorer Devin Askew returning, this program could realistically finish .500 for the first time since 2016-17.

The incoming class is headlined by No. 29 transfer Fardaws Aimaq, formerly of Mercer, Utah Valley and Texas Tech. Though hobbled by injuries last season, the 6-foot-11 center averaged 11.1 points and 7.9 rebounds in limited action with the Red Raiders and will be reuniting with Madsen after the two thrived together at Utah Valley. No. 9 overall transfer Jaylon Tyson is also on the roster after shining as a dynamic wing at Texas Tech last season, but he will need a waiver for immediate eligibility since he's transferred twice. Even if Tyson isn't cleared, the Bears have taken other steps toward competitiveness with the additions of 3-point marksman Jalen Cone (Northern Arizona) and veteran guard Keonte Kennedy (Memphis).

5. Josh Eilert | West Virginia

Legendary coach Bob Huggins' well-documented offseason implosion coincided with the Mountaineers landing the nation's No. 2 transfer class, per 247Sports. Interim coach Josh Eilert deserves a ton of credit for keeping the group together as Kerr Kriisa (Arizona), Jesse Edwards (Syracuse) and RaeQuan Battle (Montana State) are each in line for big roles. The Mountaineers did lose two key pieces from their 2022-23 squad in guard Joe Toussaint (Texas Tech) and center Tre Mitchell (Kentucky) amid the Huggins fiasco, but they have enough pieces to remain relevant in an evolving Big 12.

Eilert spent the past 16 years working on Huggins' West Virginia staff, so it's not as if the program is undergoing a massive overhaul in philosophy or identity. If the incoming transfer haul plays to its ceiling, there may not be a noticeable drop-off at WVU, and that would make for a season worth celebrating after the gruesome ending to Huggins' tenure.