After 12 seasons with Seton Hall, Kevin Willard is departing the school to take the head coaching position with Maryland Terrapins. The announcement came on Monday as Willard went to the top of the school's list after several other coaches pulled their name from consideration.
"Growing up and coaching in the region, I have always admired Maryland basketball. Being named head coach of one of the nation's premier basketball programs is a tremendous honor," said Willard. "Thank you to President (Darryl) Pines and (Maryland Athletic Director) Damon Evans for trusting me to energize this proud program as we look to galvanize our passionate fanbase with a gritty, hard-working style of basketball."
"Seton Hall will always be a special place for my family and me," Willard said. "For 12 years, this was home, and I'm proud of everything that we accomplished. We were able to build not only a great program, but we were also able to build a second family with my players, staff and the entire University community. Together, we made Seton Hall men's basketball a program we can all be proud to support."
Willard took over Seton Hall during a critical time in 2010. Bobby Gonzalez left the program in shambles after his firing, so Willard, who coached at Iona previously, was tasked with righting the ship. His intense coaching style, which many saw as an issue early on, proved successful as he led the Pirates to seven 20-win seasons, including five consecutive seasons of 20 wins from 2015-2020. He also became a great recruiter in the New York City area, signing players like Isiah Whitehead and Angel Delgado to play for Seton Hall.
"On behalf of Seton Hall University, I'd like to thank Kevin for an incredible 12 years of servant leadership to our student-athletes and our University," said Seton Hall University President Dr. Joseph E. Nyre. "Kevin did yeoman's work in ensuring that our student athletes were ready not only to compete for success on the court, but also ready to compete for success in the classroom, in the community and in life moving forward. With his leadership, Seton Hall men's basketball transformed into one of the best programs in the country. We wish Kevin and his family all the best as they start a new chapter."
Maryland will be looking for the same magic in College Park after parting ways with Mark Turgeon midway through this season. While the program isn't in the same situation Seton Hall was when Willard took over, the expectation for Maryland is to be competitive in the highly competitive Big Ten, something they have not been for the last two seasons. They also hope that Willard's familiarity with tri-state area recruiting could help the school pick up some highly prized Northeast recruits.
"We are thrilled to welcome Kevin to the Terrapin family," said Evans. "We are excited about the future of Maryland basketball with Kevin leading the way. Known for his gritty, hard-working teams, Kevin has had tremendous success, winning conference championships and leading his teams to NCAA Tournaments. He has made a habit of scheduling challenging opponents and winning in those games, as evidenced by his record against Big Ten teams in recent years. He has familiarity with the region, being a native New Yorker and having spent much of his life in the Northeast corridor. We welcome Kevin, his wife Julie, and their sons Colin and Chase to the Maryland family, and we look forward to the next great chapter in Terrapin basketball history."
Who Will Be Seton Hall's Next Head Coach
All eyes will now move to who will become the next head coach of the Pirates. In a postgame press conference after Seton Hall's blowout loss to TCU at the NCAA Tournament, Willard clarified who should be in the running if he wouldn't return to South Orange.
"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," said Willard.
"I've never been so happy for a young man who when I hired him at Iona, he was an assistant at St. Pat's," Willard said. "And he has unbelievable knowledge of the game, unbelievable thirst for the game. He's a tremendous person, a tremendous teacher and he's going to be a tremendous leader for many, many years to come."
With Saint Peter's Cinderella run continuing at the Sweet 16 in Philadelphia this weekend, there will be many questions regarding Holloway's future with the Peacocks. At this point, Holloway should be Seton Hall's main target as the former Pirate point guard has roots with the program both on the court and on the sidelines as Willard's assistant at Seton Hall.
Let the speculation begin.
- Florida Atlantic continues magical run, advances to Final Four - March 25, 2023
- Kansas State survives, FAU surprises in NCAA Tournament at The Garden - March 24, 2023
- Second annual Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic takes over The Rock - February 4, 2023