The Maryland men’s basketball team has a new face at the helm. The program announced Monday it had hired Kevin Willard as its new head coach. Willard comes to College Park after 12 years leading Seton Hall.
“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. … I embrace the high expectations,” Willard said in a press release.
Willard replaces former coach Mark Turgeon, who resigned in December. Assistant Danny Manning finished out the season in an interim role as the school conducted a national search for the opening.
Maryland finished the campaign with a 15-17 record, missing the NCAA Tournament. The Terrapins’ 15 wins were a slight disappointment after WynnBet set their wins total at 23 heading into the season.
Who is Willard?
Willard’s combined record at Seton Hall was 225-161, including five NCAA Tournament appearances. He also led the Pirates to a Big East regular-season title in 2019-20 as well as a conference tournament title in 2016. Willard claimed Big East Coach of the Year honors in 2016.
Seton Hall is coming off a season in which it compiled a 21-11 record. The Pirates fell to TCU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday. The program never advanced past the second round under Willard.
Prior to his time at Seton Hall, Willard coached three seasons at Iona, compiling a 45-49 record. Before that, he was an assistant under Rick Pitino at Louisville for six seasons. He also boasts coaching experience at the NBA level as an associate with the Boston Celtics.
The son of a coach, Willard was groomed for this basketball life from a young age. His father, Ralph, coached at Western Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Holy Cross for 19 years, winning 336 games and earning six NCAA Tournament berths. Willard also played collegiately at the Division I level — one year at Western Kentucky and the remaining three at Pittsburgh.
What he’ll have to work with
With how prominent the transfer portal is these days in college basketball, there’s no predicting what the 2022-23 roster may look like.
The Terrapins will surely lose graduate transfer Fatts Russell, who led the team in scoring with 15.1 points per game. Maryland’s second-leading scorer, senior Eric Ayala, may also be gone, though he has the option to return for a fifth year.
Pending any departures, the team may return its next five top scorers in Donta Scott, Hakim Hart, Qudus Wahab, Julian Reese and Ian Martinez. Similar to how there’s always a chance any player may leave, Willard will also have the option to scour the transfer portal for potential additions.
What they’re saying about Maryland’s new coach
“Kevin Willard was a proven winner in the Big East while at Seton Hall. The intensity level of his teams reflect the passion that Kevin will bring to our team and the University.” — Gary Williams, former Maryland head coach who led Terrapins to a national championship
“Kevin Willard has always been one of the best coaches in the country. He’s a great recruiter, a great tactician and a good man. He will do a great job at the University of Maryland.” — Villanova head coach Jay Wright
“Kevin brings a wealth of basketball experience & has a winner’s mentality. Kevin is very passionate and has a great sense of pride. He will represent the Terps in a very professional manner.” — ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale