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Five Candidates to Replace Coach K at Duke

Ryan Phillips
NCAA Basketball Tournament - First Round - Columbia - Practice Sessions
NCAA Basketball Tournament - First Round - Columbia - Practice Sessions / Lance King/Getty Images
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A bombshell dropped in the college basketball world on Wednesday as we learned Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski will step down after the 2021-22 season. Obviously that's a massive story, as Coach K has turned Duke into a national powerhouse and won five national titles while reaching the Final Four 12 times during his 41 seasons at the school. Finding a replacement will be difficult but there are tons of excellent candidates out there.

Here's a look at five realistic candidates to replace Krzyzewski at Duke. It's worth noting that given the resources available to the program, money shouldn't be a problem.

Mike Krzyzewski replacements at Duke

Jon Scheyer

Scheyer is the leader in the clubhouse to assume the job. He's currently Krzyzewski's top assistant and has become something of a recruiting powerhouse. A former top recruit who played at Duke from 2006 through 2010 and was named first-team All-ACC as a senior, Scheyer played internationally for a few seasons before finding his way to Duke's bench in 2014. The 33-year-old has been associate head coach since 2018.

Scheyer has been the lead recruiter for a number of huge pickups including Paolo Banchero, Cam Reddish, Jayson Tatum, Vernon Carey and more. He was also deeply involved in the recruitment of Zion Williamson. If he already has the recruiting side of things figured out, a solid staff around him should take care of keeping the system in tact. This seems like the easiest transition.

Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens turned down the chance to return home to Indiana this year, and we likely learned why on Wednesday. He is leaving his position as head coach of the Boston Celtics to become the team's president of basketball operations, replacing Danny Ainge. For the last year anyone behind the scenes would tell you Stevens was burned out in Boston, which is why so many believed he would be willing to head to Indiana. He's charted a different path despite the enormous contract the Hoosiers offered him.

While he seems entrenched in Boston, if Stevens gets the itch to coach again after a year on the sidelines, Duke could be a perfect fit. The Blue Devils sit as one of college basketball's great powers, plus it's a smaller school with a great academic reputation, not unlike Stevens' former college home at Butler. This is obviously a long-shot but a chance at Duke might make Stevens stop and think.

Steve Wojciechowski

Yes, Duke could anger every journalist on a deadline and give us yet another nearly impossible name to spell correctly on the first try. Steve Wojciechowski was fired by Marquette a few months ago after eight unremarkable seasons. He reached the NCAA Tournament twice, losing in the first round both times, and failed to build sustained success.

So why is he on the list? Because he's Wojo and this is Duke. He's one of the most beloved players in program history and a personal favorite of Coach K. A former NABC Defensive Player of the Year in 1998 and a two-time All-ACC pick (second and third teams), Wojo was long thought to be Krzyzewski's successor. Plus, Marquette isn't Duke. While it's a nice program it doesn't get the same kind of players and can't have the same level of sustained success. The 44-year-old's energy and enthusiasm for his alma mater will win him supporters if he throws his hat in the ring for the job.

Quin Snyder

Quin Snyder is another Duke alum with deep ties to the program who might pause and think about taking the road back to Durham. He has a phenomenal job right now as head coach of the Utah Jazz, who he led to the best record in the NBA this season. He's in his seventh season and finally looks to have a contender on his hands. But Duke is Duke and Snyder may have hit his ceiling in Utah.

Snyder was an assistant on Krzyzewski's staff from 1995 to 1999 after playing for him from 1985 to 1989. A former McDonald's All-American, he was eventually hired as the head coach at Missouri, and had decent success starting in 1999 before he was fired in 2006. He took Mizzou on an Elite Eight run in 2002, but the program was put on probation following some pretty significant recruiting violations that seem quaint in hindsight.

There's no doubting Snyder's ability as a coach and his alma mater would certainly have some pull for him. It might be tough to wrest him from an NBA franchise though.

Scott Drew

If Duke wanted to go outside the family, this might be the most realistic option. Scott Drew just won a national title at Baylor and has built the Bears into a fearsome program. But there are limits to what can be sustained in Waco and those do not exist in Durham given the resources, tradition and financial backing Duke's basketball program has. It would be hard for him to turn down this offer.

Drew has been at Baylor for 18 years and to took a while to find success. That happened in 2010 with an Elite Eight run, a feat which was repeated in 2012. There have been some ups and down since but it seems he's found the formula to win there. Over the past two seasons the Bears are 54-6 and 28-4 in the Big 12. They play a fun brand of basketball and have phenomenal momentum as a program.

So why would he leave? Well, in Texas if you're a great coach with a successful program it's a nice story. Do that at Duke and you're a legend.

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