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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2. Nate Oats (Alabama)

Among the hottest names in the basketball world, Oats flew under the radar as a player and coach at Marantha Baptist in Wisconsin before a long stint coaching high school ball in Detroit. He joined Bobby Hurley’s staff at Buffalo and later succeeded and outshined him with those Bulls. Oats took Buffalo to three NCAA Tournaments and two Tourney wins before leaving for greener pastures in 2019.

Oats accepted the Alabama job and has done a transformative effort on Crimson Tide basketball. In his first four years, he had two different seasons where Alabama won the SEC Tournament, regular season title, and made the Sweet Sixteen. However, year five just outclassed all of that as he led Alabama to its first Final Four in program history. What Oats has accomplished in his first five years in Tuscaloosa has been unquestionably one of the best coaching jobs in recent memory.

1. John Calipari (Arkansas)

One of the sport’s most successful coaches in recent memory, Calipari shocked the world when he announced he was leaving Kentucky for Arkansas just a few weeks ago. Having previously led both UMass and Memphis to Final Four appearances, Calipari was doing wonders at Kentucky and also served as head coach of the New Jersey Nets back in the late 90’s, though it’s a new challenge ahead for him.

Despite Kentucky’s recent fallings, Calipari led the Wildcats to four Final Four’s, including the national championship in 2012. Even with just a single Tourney win in the last five seasons, nobody else in this conference has a title, with Calipari hoping to come close to that again in the near future. He takes over at Arkansas, hoping to continue the recent success of this program and take it to the next level.

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Calipari remains a recruiting wizard, though we’ll have to see how he adjusts to new surroundings and the ever-changing college basketball world around him.