7. Corey Gipson – Austin Peay
Previous head coach Nate James won just 21 games in his two seasons leading the Governors. The former Duke player and assistant didn’t work out and Austin Peay didn’t hesitate, replacing him with Gipson after just a pair of seasons. Early returns have been very solid for Austin Peay, especially with one of their native sons as the new leader.
Gipson played for the Governors two decades ago, helping take this program to the NCAA Tournament back in 2003. He’s spent much of the last two decades in collegiate coaching, including a three-year stint on this staff nearly a decade ago. His head coaching career began last season at Northwestern State and he greatly exceeded expectations with a 22-win season.
The raw numbers don’t look as impressive, but Gipson is undoubtedly making progress back home with the Governors. Their 10-11 record doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, but they have solid wins against Southern Illinois and Murray State and are playing significantly better basketball than last season. This likely isn’t a breakthrough season, but Gipson and this team could win an A-Sun title in the years ahead.