There is no mystery as to who currently dominates the recruiting game. John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski and Bill Self continually enroll blue-chip prospect after blue-chip prospect. However, there is a slew of up-and-comers that will be rubbing elbows with the recruiting goliaths in the coming years and, by the time 2030 arrives, could be household names within the sport, a dozen names that are currently either leading mid-major programs, assisting a power conference schools or another that already holds two national titles to his name. MORE ALL-DECADE: Best recruiters | Most exciting prospects | Dynamic duos | All-2010's team | The 10 biggest rankings misses
The former North Carolina guard won a national title but didn’t enjoy similar success whenever he overtook the Greensboro program on an interim basis during the 2011-12 season. In his first full year as the head coach, he won just nine games but it has been a steady incline ever since. Things really took over in 2016 as the Spartans have won at least 25 games and finished second or higher within the Southern Conference since then. A well-respected name throughout the region and showing a great eye for under-the-radar talent that fits his system, Miller is still only 36 years old and will likely be leading a high-major program by the time 2022 arrives.
Headlining a unit that is top-25 in the national polls, could this be Smith’s final season at Utah State. If it is not, it is only a matter of time before a power conference school poaches Smith from the Mountain West. The 46-year old head coach has spent just over a full season at USU but has a winning percentage over .800, this following great success at North Dakota where he won 48 games throughout his final two seasons. While it may take the right job for Smith to walk away from the monster that he has created in Logan, Smith has shown that he can develop, recruit his region and internationally, and win the X-and-Os game, which should place him on the short list of a number of high-major coaching searches in the near future.
No, Brad Stevens is not coming back to the college ranks. Could Donovan, though? Rumors continue to swirl especially with a number of elite programs set to have coaching vacancies within the coming years. The Oklahoma City Thunder may be in for a few down years as they have a plethora of draft selections in their pocket. Will Donovan be in for the long haul, though his contract is up after this season, or might he be intrigued enough to head back to the college ranks? His name carries plenty of cache and chances are, if things go down the wrong path in OKC and the proper opening presents itself, Donovan could make his long-awaited return to the college ranks.
Calipari’s right-hand man at Kentucky, it might take a lot for Payne to walk away from his cushy seat next to UK's CEO. Making close to $1 million on an annual basis and the ace recruiter for the Wildcats, it might be tough to leave Lexington unless it is for a power conference program that might be able to at least double his current salary. Only a few comparable jobs open every spring, but Payne might be nearing his opportunity to lead his own program. He is already a relatively well-known name, but the former NBA first-round draft selection has the chance to become a household name by the time the mid-2020s arrive. His respect level by those that have come through UK is as good as one can imagine and it is only safe to assume that the NBA pedigree he boasts could be a great selling tactic for whichever program he takes over.
A grinder through and through, Forbes started from the bottom and well, now he is here. After serving a show-case penalty that was induced as an assistant coach at Tennessee, all Forbes has done since is found success within the familiar junior college ranks that first started his coaching career at, before helping Gregg Marshall catapult his Wichita State program to what we know of it today, to winning over 100 games in less than four seasons as the ETSU head coach. Anyone that comes in contact with Forbes is wowed by the 54-year old’s outgoing personality and salesmanship. It would take the right spot on both fronts for it to work but mark it down, the power conference athletic director that gives him a chance will make his men’s basketball program a winning one.
Grant has made a name for himself throughout various coaching stops within the state of South Carolina. Beginning his career at The Citadel, before moving onto such others stops at Winthrop and Clemson, Grant got his first shot at a head coaching opportunity whenever the College of Charleston called in 2014. Winning just nine games in his first season, Grant hit on a number of underappreciated prospects and is now leaning on all-league guard Grant Riller for a potential return to the NCAA Tournament. Winning 75 games over the past three seasons, Grant’s name has been involved with a number of power conference openings throughout the south in recent years and chances look good that he could be leading a comparable program and flourishing within such a place before 2023.
Go down the list. Mark Gottfried. Mick Cronin. Billy Kennedy. Steve Prohm. It is only a matter of time before McMahon gets the chance at the high-major level, but to leave a place that is so well supported that is Murray State, it is going to take a good offer. Chances are that such a chance will be given and just like his predecessors, he will find success at the next level. Just over the age of 40 and winning close to three-fourths of the games that he has coached in, McMahon shouold be a candidate for a number of ACC and SEC coaching spots that are due to open.
Penny Hardaway has received plenty of praise of late thanks to his work on the recruiting trail and rightfully so. However, he has not been able to do it alone as former NBA sharpshooter Miller aided in Memphis’ top-ranked recruiting class that just enrolled. His name still resonates with the high school elite and being able to sell close friendships with Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and LeBron James does not hurt his marketing ploys on the recruiting trail. While there is always a chance that Miller looks at the NBA, the sense is that leading a college program is what he envisions most. His lack of coaching experience could squelch immediate pursuits, but it may be only a matter of time before his high-major opportunity is earned.
Mark Few has made Gonzaga the 21st century version of a blue blood, but he has not done it alone. Lloyd helped Few place the Bulldogs into the mainstream of the sport not because of just his ties domestically, but rather due to his step-ahead approach with his network base overseas. All he knows is Gonzaga and has been on the sidelines in Spokane since the beginning of the century. While it may be difficult to envision Lloyd ever leaving the program, it would come as no surprise that, whenever Few hangs up his whistle, the program is handed over to Lloyd. Could that come within the next 10 years? Possibly, which could elevate Lloyd into the primary seat of arguably the west coast’s most consistently successful program.
Murray should see an opportunity for a head coaching spot thanks to his expertise in the coaching box and on the recruiting trail. Ascending the assistant coaching ladder quickly, Murray has served stints at Quinnipiac, Wagner, Towson and Rhode Island, leaving each program much better than when he was hired. Nabbing a coaching spot at Xavier before moving onto Louisville with Chris Mack, Murray, the son of Bill Murray, is a tireless worker that has helped land consecutive top-25 classes. He was under strong consideration for a number of mid-major jobs within recent years and it is only a matter of time but the right opportunity presents before he overtakes a program of his own.