It’s funny how quickly time flies, especially in the college basketball world. Not only do most star plays leave after a year or two, but one day, some of those star players are back in college basketball as coaches. Typically, it’s the players with average skills but a high basketball IQ who become coaches. However, there’s a new generation of young college basketball coaches who were once star players. Let’s take a closer look at former star players who are now college basketball coaches.
Juwan Howard, Michigan
Howard has zero head-coaching experience before his alma mater hired him to replace John Beilein in 2019. Of course, Howard was a part of Michigan’s Fab Five and spent nearly two decades in the NBA.
In fairness, he went from winning a title with the Heat in 2013 to being an assistant coach in Miami. That gave him a few years of good training, although he has his work cut out for him with his first head coaching job being at his alma mater and a program with big exceptions.
Donyell Marshall, Central Connecticut State
Despite not having a standout NBA career, Marshall was once Big East Player of the Year during the league’s heyday. He also lasted a decade and a half in the Association. Since then, Marshall has been paying his dues as an assistant before becoming the head coach at Central Connecticut State in 2016.
It’s not a glamorous job by any stretch. But if Marshall can turn the Blue Devils around, the UConn product will surely get the attention of bigger programs.
Penny Hardaway, Memphis
After being born and raised in Memphis and then suiting up for the then Memphis State Tigers, it was only a matter of time until Hardaway returned to his hometown as coach of the Tigers. As an NBA player, he was Rookie of the Year in 1994 and a four-time All-Star.
However, Penny had only coached at the middle school and high school levels before replacing Tubby Smith at Memphis. While he has the savvy and credentials to recruit top talent, the Tigers are accustomed to being a national program, so Hardaway has a tough task to live up to expectations at his alma mater.
Juan Dixon, Coppin State
With little coaching experience on his resume, Dixon was made the head coach at Coppin State in 2017. Of course, he was a national champion and Final Four MOP at Maryland in 2002.
Those credentials still go a long way, especially in Baltimore, where Coppin State is located. Dixon is starting to make some progress with the Eagles and appears to have a promising coaching career ahead of him.
Patrick Ewing, Georgetown
Ewing is the ultimate example of a star player who became a head coach. He was highly sought after as a high school recruit and ultimately the top overall pick in the 1985 NBA Draft after a storied career at Georgetown, which included leading the Hoyas to the 1983 national championship. After being an 11-time NBA All-Star, Ewing immediately went into coaching after retiring as a player.
He spent 14 seasons as an assistant in the NBA before his alma mater came calling for Ewing to fix a program that had become a disaster. The job is far from done, but the Hoyas appear to have faith that their former big man can add to his Georgetown legacy as a coach.