Championship Week is a time to watch a bunch of games, catch up on teams and players from yesteryear and ask questions like, “Wait, I thought that guy graduated two years ago?”
It’s the same with coaches, where – with 351 Division I schools – you’re bound to see some names that you forgot were coaching, or frankly didn’t know were coaching at all. And this year especially, there are a number of high-profile former NBA players that have taken college coaching jobs.
Here are 11 former NBA players you might see as conference tournaments kick off this week.
Damon Stoudamire, Pacific Tigers
Admit it, you had absolutely no idea that Stoudamire was coaching college basketball, did you? It’s OK, that’s the whole point of this list.
The 1996 NBA Rookie of the Year – and member of the notorious “Jail Blazers” just completed his first season at Pacific with an overall record of 10-21 and 4-14 in WCC play. The Tigers will conclude the year in the WCC Tournament this weekend, where they open play against Pepperdine on Friday.
Terry Porter, Portland Pilots
The only team that finished behind Pacific in the WCC standings this season was Portland, which was coached by their own former NBA star, Terry Porter.
Porter is in his first year in the college game after playing 17 years in the NBA and serving as the head coach of both the Bucks and Suns. The Pilots will also open WCC Tournament play Friday against San Diego. They finished the regular season at 10-21 overall.
Avery Johnson, Alabama Crimson Tide
Johnson is in his second season in Tuscaloosa after over 20 years in the NBA, which included 16 as a player, and another five as head coach of both the Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets. During that time, he led the Mavs to the 2006 NBA Finals, winning Coach of the Year that season.
Since arriving in the college game, Johnson has steadied the ship at Alabama, where the Crimson Tide went 18-15 a year ago and are currently just outside the bubble at 16-12 this year. However the real excitement comes next season when Johnson welcomes a Top 5 recruiting class, headlined by McDonald’s All-American Collin Sexton.
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Donyell Marshall, Central Connecticut State Blue Devils
After an All-American career at UConn, Marshall went on to play 15 seasons in the NBA, including stops with LeBron’s Cavs and the Stockton/Malone Jazz. Since then, he spent six seasons as an assistant coach in both the college and D-League ranks, and got his big break as a college head coach back where it all began: In Connecticut, with the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils.
Year One of Marshall’s head coaching career was tough, as the Blue Devils limped to a 6-23 overall record with just a 4-14 mark in league play. Sadly, we won’t even see Marshall during Championship Week (unless it’s as a spectator). With only eight teams qualifying for the NEC Tournament, Central Connecticut’s season is officially over.
Kevin Ollie, UConn Huskies
Ollie arrived at UConn in the same recruiting class as Marshall before embarking on a wide-ranging 13-year NBA career. It included two stops with Allen Iverson in Philadelphia (where they made the 2001 NBA Finals), one with LeBron in Cleveland, as well as a stint with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, where Ollie ended his career.
Following his playing days, Ollie returned to his alma mater as an assistant and three years later was given the keys to the program after Jim Calhoun retired. Since then he has made two NCAA Tournament appearances, including a shocking run to the 2014 title. With three key players out with season-ending injuries this year, the Huskies are just 14-14 overall in 2017.
The former Duke star’s NBA career was never the same after a serious car crash, but after years away from the sport, he has found his niche coaching college. After serving as an assistant under his brother Danny Hurley at Wagner and Rhode Island, he got his head coaching start at Buffalo. There, he led the Bulls to the NCAA Tournament in his second season.
That tourney bid led Hurley to Arizona State, where the rebuild hasn’t been as easy in Tempe. The Sun Devils are just 14-16 this season. But to Hurley’s credit, Arizona State pulled off the most impressive win of their season on Sunday against USC.
Reggie Theus, Cal State Northridge Matadors
Following his playing days, Theus has had a wide-ranging career which has included college head coaching stops (New Mexico State), NBA head coaching jobs (Sacramento Kings) and even a little acting (who besides me remembers “Hang Time?”).
He’s now in his fourth year at Northridge and unfortunately things haven’t gone to plan. The Matadors haven’t had a winning season since Theus arrived, including an 11-16 mark this season.
Dan Majerle, Grand Canyon Antelopes
A three-time All-Star, Majerle’s entry into the college basketball world is one of the best stories in the sport. Back in 2013 he thought he was in line to get the Suns’ head coaching job, was passed up and eventually left the organization. At that point, he was uncertain if he’d ever coach again.
Instead, his old buddy Jerry Colangelo asked Majerle to help Grand Canyon transition from Division II to Division I. As they say, “the rest is history.” The Antelopes went 27-7 under Majerle last year, and are 21-9 in 2017. They aren’t eligible for the NCAA Tournament until next season, but with most of their key players returning, don’t be surprised if they get there.
Mark Price, Charlotte 49ers
Price made four All-Star teams over a 12-year NBA career and earned All-NBA first team honors in 1993. Immediately following his retirement from the NBA in 1998, he started as an assistant at the high school level and continued to work in that role in college and the pros.
Price transitioned from Charlotte Hornets assistant to UNC-Charlotte (“Charlotte” for athletics purposes) prior to last season. It’s been a forgettable run with a 26-34 record overall.
Mike Dunleavy Sr., Tulane Green Wave
After playing nine years in the NBA, Dunleavy Sr. transitioned to the sidelines where he was the head coach of the Lakers, Bucks, Blazers and Clippers from 1990-2010. That included a trip to the NBA Finals in his first season, on a team led by Magic Johnson and James Worthy.
But with seemingly no interest from the NBA since 2010, Dunleavy took a stab at the college game this season, so far without much success. The Green Wave are just 5-23 this season, including just 2-14 in AAC play.
Danny Manning, Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Manning led Kansas to the NCAA title in 1988 and made two All-Star teams in the pros, but his career is one of the ultimate “what if’s” due to injuries.
Manning has evolved into one of the bright young coaches in the sport. He was at Tulsa for two years (helping the Golden Hurricane to the 2014 NCAA Tournament) before heading to Wake Forest. Now in his fourth year in the ACC, he has the Demon Deacons on the verge of their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2010.