Latest Updates on WVU Men’s Basketball Head Coaching Search

MORGANTOWN, West Virginia — The search for the next head basketball coach at West Virginia University is heating up and the results of the NCAA Tournament over the next couple of days could have a dramatic impact on who ultimately ends up coaching the Mountaineers next season.

The favorites are clear and have been clear for some time. Wren Baker, like all athletic directors with a basketball head coach opening, was/is enamored by Florida Atlantic’s Dusty May, and with good reason. He took FAU to a Final Four last season, his team is 25-8 this season, and he has an impressive 126-68 record during his six years as a head coach. Baker likely took a big swing early at May, as he should have, and May probably listened.

The problem with May is that he’s a top candidate at virtually every major program. He was the #1 choice at Ohio State before the Buckeyes decided to make interim head coach Jake Diebler the permanent head coach. May is now reportedly the leader at Lousiville and Michigan, and probably Oklahoma State and Vanderbilt, too. Wren Baker made it clear that he does not want to engage in a bidding war, and unfortunately, whoever lands Dusty May is going to have to win a bidding war for him.

With that said, Baker has turned his attention elsewhere, to more realistic options. Darian DeVries stands out as a candidate who would be perfect at West Virginia, and DeVries and Baker have reportedly spoken over the last week. I believe DeVries is Baker’s top choice right now, but again, DeVries is highly-coveted in other places as well. According to multiple sources, DeVries is among the favorites at both Oklahoma State and Michigan. While West Virginia is a “better job” than Oklahoma State with better facilities and far better NIL, it’s very unlikely that Baker can outbid Michigan, even if he wanted to. In addition, DeVries has spent his entire career in the Midwest – at Creighton (Nebraska) as an assistant for 17 years and then as a head coach at Drake (Iowa) for the last six seasons. DeVries was also born in Iowa and played college basketball at Northern Iowa. In other words, he is a lifelong Midwesterner.

If Baker can convince him to leave his roots and make a big jump to West Virginia, and potentially outbid Michigan, Oklahoma State and any other openings that may become available, DeVries is the clear right choice and who Baker wants to lead the Mountaineers. But again, there are obstacles to making it happen.

This leads us to Baker’s “fallback options”, which is really unfair to say because both are really outstanding head coaches. Niko Medved led Colorado State to a huge victory over Virginia in the play-in game of the NCAA Tournament, and has proven to be a terrific basketball mind whose teams play tough defense, but I still think he’s the 4th choice behind May, DeVries and Mark Byington.

Byington, who has been rumored to be the leading candidate for over a month now, is the favorite because of what I said above. There are obstacles to landing May or DeVries, and there just aren’t many to bringing Byington to Morgantown. Of course he has to coach James Madison in the NCAA Tournament, but let’s say his team loses in the first round, he would be ready to jump to West Virginia tomorrow. 

Although he’s an outstanding head coach, he has flown under the radar and hasn’t received the same level of national attention from other programs, and West Virginia is almost certainly his top choice. Baker has also reportedly met with Byington, and was left impressed, and Byington understands the area as he’s from Virginia, will bring outstanding assistants/recruiters with him, and even though he may not have been Baker’s top choice when the search started, I believe this will end up being the right head coach at the right time for the Mountaineers.