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Maryland Basketball Expected to Hire Seton Hall’s Kevin Willard As Next Coach

Sources say the school may announce the hire as soon as Monday.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round San Diego Practice Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland got an early start looking for a head coach when Mark Turgeon decided to step down shortly into the 2021-22 season. With the Terps having several months to work on Turgeon’s potential replacement, it’s starting to looking like the school will end up hiring a coach that has been rumored as a potential replacement for several months.

It didn’t take long, with news hitting social media almost immediately after Seton Hall was bounced in the first round by TCU. Head coach Kevin Willard has been linked to Maryland as one of their main targets since Turgeon stepped down, so the news wasn’t exactly a huge surprise. The circumstances surrounding the news, though, and how Willard has handled things has been a touchy subject for some people.

In Seton Hall’s first round game yesterday the Pirates got trounced by TCU, getting beat by 27 points and only scoring 42. The Pirates looked overmatched and lifeless from the get go and with news immediately dropping that their head coach is leaving it makes it look like Willard had his mind elsewhere heading into the postseason. Willard poured gasoline on the fire when he talked to reporters following the loss, being noncommittal and even suggesting a potential replacement.

“I’ll give you exactly what I can tell you, I have an agent who I haven’t talked to yet. I don’t know who’s he talking to. I have absolutely no idea. But when I get home I’ll talk to my agent and discuss things with my agent,” Willard said to reporters. “I’ll be honest with you...If I’m not here next year, I’d love if Shaheen Holloway is here, that would be the happiest thing to happen to me.”

Suggesting his current employer hire Holloway wasn’t exactly the best look for Willard, even if it’s highly speculated that Seton Hall will zero in on Holloway if Willard does leave for Maryland. The problem with the statement is it now creates a massive distraction for Holloway, who just coached Saint Peter’s to an upset over Kentucky and are still playing in the NCAA Tournament. It was also the obvious direction the Pirates will likely head, with Willard having no reason to create the distraction for his former assistant.

As for Maryland fans, the news that Willard may be the guy isn’t exactly creating excitement. Willard may have not been the first option, with Nate Oats and Andy Enfield both being linked to the school at one point before falling out for one reason or another (Oats being a massive buyout, Enfield after signing a new contract with USC). Mike Brey, head coach of Notre Dame, was also in the race but it appears Maryland is going with Willard.

Willard has been the head coach for Seton Hall since 2010, following a three year start at Iona. In his 15 seasons as a head coach Willard has only won one NCAA Tournament game, a first round win in 2018. He has a 1-5 record in the NCAA Tournament and a 1-1 record in the NIT. He’s had success in the regular season, but so far that hasn’t translated to success in the postseason.

Willard has had success at Seton Hall and is known for getting the most out of his players, but the lack of postseason success has left a sour taste in some Maryland fans. Will he be able to take the next step coaching at a bigger school in the Big Ten after having limited overall success for a decade plus in the Big East? Maybe, maybe not. But it appears Maryland is willing to run with Willard and hope he’s the guy to turn things around.