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JMU’s Search for the Next Hoops Hero: A Look at Potential Candidates


  • Mark Byington’s departure from JMU leaves a head coach vacancy.
  • Jeff Bourne, JMU’s athletic director, likely to favor current head coaches.
  • Several promising candidates from mid-major programs have been identified.

The Big Shoes to Fill

With Mark Byington’s departure to Vanderbilt, JMU finds itself in the market for a new men’s head basketball coach. Jeff Bourne, JMU’s athletic director, is known for favoring current head coaches when filling such roles. So, let’s dive into the potential candidates who could be JMU’s next hoops hero.

The Home-Run Hires

JMU has a knack for identifying and securing rising coaching talent, a trend we may see continue in this search. Here are a few names to keep an eye on:

Bucky McMillan, Samford: McMillan, a former high school head coach, has led Samford to three consecutive 20-win seasons. His fast-paced offense could be a hit with JMU fans, but it’s uncertain if he’d leave Samford for another mid-major.

Matt Langel, Colgate: Langel has guided Colgate to five NCAA Tournament appearances in the last six seasons. With a proven record at a mid-major program, he could see JMU as a stepping stone to a Power Five gig.

Russell Turner, UC Irvine: Turner, a Roanoke native and former Golden State Warriors assistant, has been UC Irvine’s head coach for over a decade. His impressive record includes three NCAA Tournament appearances and a pair of NITs. Could a return to Virginia be on the cards?

Bob Richey, Furman: Richey has a 156-71 record in his seven seasons at Furman. At 41, he’s a young coach with significant mid-major success, but he may prefer to stay at Furman and leverage that success into a Power Conference gig.

Other Top Names to Monitor

Mike Jones, UNCG: Jones, a former candidate in JMU’s last hiring cycle, has led UNCG to 20 wins in two of his three seasons.

Griff Aldrich, Longwood: Aldrich has turned Longwood into a competent mid-major team and could be a highly intriguing option for JMU.

Robert Jones, Norfolk State: Jones has been with Norfolk State for over a decade, leading the program to a pair of NCAA Tournaments.

Donnie Jones, Stetson: Jones has a history of leading winning mid-major programs and is reportedly interested in the JMU opening.

Joe Gallo, Merrimack: Gallo has successfully led Merrimack’s transition into Division I.

Alan Huss, High Point: Huss, a former Creighton assistant, led High Point to 25+ wins in his first season as a head coach in 2023-24.

The search for JMU’s next men’s head basketball coach is on, and the list of potential candidates is impressive. Stay tuned as we continue to follow this developing story.

#JMU #CollegeBasketball 🏀

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