West Virginia’s Basketball Head Coach Wishlist

MORGANTOWN, West Virginia — Now that Josh Eilert is out as the interim head coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers, Wren Baker will officially begin his search for the next head coach of the program. Baker said in his press release today that “we will move deliberately but as swiftly as we can in the days ahead.” With that said, I have reason to believe that Baker already has a strong list of potential replacements already lined up. Here is who Baker has likely identified on his wishlist as potential candidates to take over the Mountaineers next season:

1 – Darian DeVries, Head Coach, Drake

Why Darian DeVries?  DeVries, 48, is the current head coach at Drake University and has rocketed up the list over the last couple of weeks and is now considered one of the most desirable candidates for program’s searching for a head coach.

In his six seasons with the program, DeVires has put together an impressive 150-54 record (.735 winning percentage) and a 79-33 record in the tough Missouri Valley Conference. DeVries, a native of Aplington, Iowa, has led Drake to 4 NCAA Tournament appearances, a Missouri Valley Conference Championship in 2023 and 2024, and was named the Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year in 2019 and 2021. In other words, DeVries has been incredibly successful in a short period of time, and has proven that he can quickly turn a program around.

In addition, DeVries’ son, Tucker DeVries, is a current player at Drake and is the two-time Missour Valley Conference Player of the Year, averaging 21.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game this season while leading the Bulldogs to a 27-6 record this season. Tucker DeVries has two years of eligibility remaining and would almost certainly follow his father to Morgantown if he coaches the Mountaineers next season. With everything considered, Darian DeVries might just be the ideal candidate.

2 – Dusty May, Head Coach, Florida Atlantic University

Why Dusty May? May, 47, is perhaps the hottest young coach in college basketball and will almost certainly be Wren Baker’s top choice. However, May will be at the top of virtually every major program’s wishlist, including Ohio State and Louisville, and West Virginia will have difficulty out-bidding these programs.

Last season, May led Florida Atlantic to a 35-4 record and a trip to the NCAA Final Four. Florida Atlantic is 24-7 overall and 14-4 in conference play this season, and May, the reigning Conference USA Coach of the Year, is 125-67 (.651 winning percentage).

Why Not Dusty May? There aren’t a lot of negatives with May, but it’s possible that he wouldn’t stay in Morgantown permanently if a better job opened up, particularly if his alma mater Indiana Hoosiers came knocking.

3 – Pat Kelsey, Head Coach, College of Charleston

Why Pat Kelsey? Kelsey is a high-energy guy who would be a terrific head coach at West Virginia. Kelsey, 48, has a 258-121 career record (.681) and led the College of Charleston to a 31-4 record last season. The College of Charleston is 24-7 overall and 15-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association, just won the CAA Championship.

Why not Pat Kelsey? No Power 5 Conference experience.

4 – Mark Byington, Head Coach, James Madison

Why Mark Byington? Wren Baker is a basketball guy and he reportedly believes that Mark Byington is just the right guy. Byington, 47, has a 218-136 (.616 winning percentage) during his 12 seasons as a head coach at the College of Charleston (2011-2012), Georgia Southern (2013-2020) and James Madison (2020-current). This season, the Dukes were 30-3 overall and 15-3 in the Sun Belt Conference, and had an impressive win on the road at then #4 ranked Michigan State on the first game of the season for both teams. James Madison won the Sun Belt Conference this season and Byington will make his first trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Byington, a Salem, Virginia native, was named the CAA Coach of the Year in 2021 and according to a source, he’s already had preliminary discussions with Wren Baker about the job. Although not the sexiest pick, the search firm that West Virginia University will use for the coaching search also works with Byington and is very, very high on him.

Why not Mark Byington? The fanbase will view Byington as “another Neal Brown hire” since he is a Sun Belt coach and has no Power 5 Conference experience.  

5 – Niko Medved, Head Coach, Colorado State

Why Niko Medved? Medved, 50, has done a tremendous job of winning at smaller schools and has connections to West Virginia through his wife, whose father is a major donor and season-ticket holder. At Colorado State, Medved has a 110-70 record and was the Southern Conference Coach of the Year in 2017.

Why not Niko Medved? No Power 5 coaching experience, underwhelming results, not seen as a sexy hire.