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NCAA Basketball: Best head coaching hire from each of last 25 seasons

HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 03: (L-R) Head coach Dan Hurley of the Connecticut Huskies shakes hands with head coach Brian Dutcher of the San Diego State Aztecs prior to the game during the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 03, 2023 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 03: (L-R) Head coach Dan Hurley of the Connecticut Huskies shakes hands with head coach Brian Dutcher of the San Diego State Aztecs prior to the game during the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 03, 2023 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images) /
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NCAA Basketball Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nate Oats Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports
NCAA Basketball Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nate Oats Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports /

2019: Nate Oats (Alabama)

There were actually a number of pretty great hires from four seasons ago; it’s almost unfair that we don’t have time to praise more than a few of these coaches. It’s now that Mick Cronin went to UCLA and led the Bruins to a Final Four run, while coaches like Eric Musselman (Arkansas) and Juwan Howard (Michigan) have had their fair share of success as well. Instead, we opted for Oats with the turnaround he’s maneuvered at Alabama.

Oats was completely under the radar just a decade ago, beginning his career at small schools in Wisconsin before a long stint coaching high school ball in Detroit. Oats joined Bobby Hurley’s Buffalo staff in 2013 and succeeded him as head coach two years later. Frankly, Oats was outstanding in leading the Bulls, taking the program to three NCAA Tournaments and a pair of first-round wins in the process. It wasn’t shocking to see the Crimson Tide hire him after four successful seasons as head coach.

Four years later, it’s fair to say his time at Alabama has been even more outstanding. Alabama was a program that didn’t exactly stand out in the SEC, but Oats has transformed how the Crimson Tide are perceived. In two of the last three seasons, he’s led the Crimson Tide to Sweet Sixteen bids with SEC regular season and tournament titles. Alabama spent time as the #1 team in the country this past season and Oats has been extremely active on the recruiting trail as well.