Busting Brackets

SEC Basketball: Ranking all 16 head coaches for 2024-25 season

Alabama head coach Nate Oats encourages his team against Connecticut during the Final Four semifinal
Alabama head coach Nate Oats encourages his team against Connecticut during the Final Four semifinal / Patrick Breen/The Republic / USA TODAY
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16. Dennis Gates (Missouri)

A former basketball player at California, Gates has had quite the eventful coaching career, with stops at several schools across the country. He was a graduate assistant at Marquette, spent time at his alma mater, and also had years at Nevada and Florida State. After a long stint with Leonard Hamilton and those Seminoles, his head coaching career began with great success, taking Cleveland State to a pair of Horizon League titles and a trip to the Big Dance.

Gates landed at Missouri in 2022, marking his first foray into the power conference level as a head coach. This formidable former assistant was excellent in his first season in Columbia, taking the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament. Not only did Missouri tie for 4th in the SEC but they also won a Tournament game. Unfortunately, things didn’t exactly fall the Tigers’ way this past season, as Missouri went 0-18 in league play and had their worst season in a long time.

15. Mark Byington (Vanderbilt)

Certainly another rising name in the coaching ranks in recent years, Byington is one of the new faces to the SEC. A former assistant at Virginia and Virginia Tech, he has previous power conference coaching experience and has spent the last eleven years as a head coach. Byington did solid work at Georgia Southern before turning James Madison into a mid-major power in recent years.

James Madison tied for the CAA title in his first season and then transitioned nicely to the Sun Belt. His Dukes gradually developed into a major winner, with this season really standing out in the program’s history. James Madison won 31 games and upset Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Now Byington transitions to a much harder post at Vanderbilt, albeit with high hopes for turning around this Commodores program in the coming years.