Big 12 Women’s Basketball Coaching Carousel Closed For Now
With Mark Kellogg’s hiring at West Virginia on Monday, the Big 12 women’s basketball coaching carousel cycle is now closed. I mean, probably.
The league now has two new coaches — Kellogg and Mark Campbell, who was hired by TCU last month.
A third, Cincinnati’s Katrina Merriweather, will join the league on July 1, along with BYU, UCF and Houston.
The hires at WVU and TCU show the different philosophies of the two athletic directors and the different tasks each face.
This is new WVU athletic director Wren Baker’s first major hire, and he opted for a quality coach, but also some comfort food.
Baker hired Kellogg at Northwest Missouri State in 2012 for the same job. He only spent a year there because he moved back to Texas to take over at West Texas A&M. But in one year in Maryville, Mo., Kellogg improved the Bearcats by nine games and went 15-13.
Kellogg just wrapped up an eight-year stint at Stephen F. Austin (disclaimer — SFA happens to be my alma mater, so I’m gonna talk him up a little) where he went 195-55 (.780) with seven consecutive seasons of 23 wins or more.
In the last five postseasons not impacted by COVID, the Ladyjacks went to three Women’s NITs and two NCAA Tournaments. He was 120-22 in conference games.
At SFA, that’s called “Maintaining the Standard.” SFA is the seventh-winningest program in NCAA Division I history (1,155 wins). One coach, Sue Gunter, is in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Another, Gary Blair (I covered Blair’s final year at SFA in 1992-93) will be inducted in August. Kellogg’s predecessor, Brandon Schneider, is the coach at Kansas, which just won the WNIT.
Point is, Kellogg is good at this. He has experience. He coaches a style of ball that folks in Morgantown will like (fair warning — he loves defense). He’s taking over a program that is coming off an NCAA Tournament berth and his task is to maintain that standard. The program has gone to 12 NCAA Tournaments and five other WNIT bids since 2004.
His first job, once he gets on campus, has his press conference and meets the locals is to sit down with JJ Quinerly and Jayla Hemingway and make sure they don’t transfer. Having watched Kellogg’s teams, I think the pair would be a great fit for what he wants to do. Hemingway has eligibility and Hemingway has a COVID waiver. Keeping them would go a long way toward next season.
Next is stability. Despite only spending one year at NW Missouri, Kellogg has spent at least seven seasons at two different stops — SFA and Fort Lewis College. WVU is on its third coach in three seasons. Mike Carey retired in 2022 and was replaced by Dawn Plitzuweit, who left after a season to take over at Minnesota — and her Top 100 recruit followed her.
Kellogg is used to recruiting regionally. He had to do so at SFA. WVU allows him to expand that reach. His track record will be enticing to mid-major players in the transfer portal looking for a new home (depending on how many scholarships he has left).
Campbell is a different kind of hire. If Kellogg has a proven track record (he’s never had a losing season in 18 years), Campbell is an ascendent star in the game, having coached two years at Sacramento State before he was hired by TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati.
In two seasons Campbell took a Hornets program that won just three games in the season before he arrived and turned them into a 25-win team that won the Big Sky Tournament title and reached the NCAA Tournament. For context, the 25 wins was a school record and the NCAA Tournament bid was the program’s first in history.
Campbell made his bones as an assistant at Oregon, where he served as a lead recruiter and is largely credited with helping the program sign Sabrina Ionescu, a WNBA No. 1 overall pick and one of the college game’s best players in the last 20 years.
Recruiting and talent development is what TCU needs right now. While Kellogg is taking over a program coming off an NCAA Tournament bid, Campbell has a complete rebuild ahead of him.
The Horned Frogs have won 24 games in the last three seasons and just seven Big 12 games. Offensive development, outside of guard Lauren Heard, has been a big issue for this program. Campbell must address it.
How? Well, first he has to hang on to former coach Raegan Pebley’s recruits. She signed a solid class in November, including a pair of Top 100 players. That class included wing Jade Clack out of Austin, Texas; guard Victoria Flores out of Duncanville, Texas; and forward Charlece Ohiaeri out of Las Vegas, Nev. I’ve seen nothing to lead me to believe they’ve asked to be released of their letter of intent.
Next, is the transfer portal. Per WBBBlog.com, which keeps track of transfers and signings, the only TCU player in the transfer portal is forward Evie Goetz, a redshirt freshman. There could be more.
Campbell will have to replace last year’s leading scorer, guard Tomi Taiwo, who is out of eligibility.
Long-term, Campbell can improve the Horned Frogs’ footprint, recruiting-wise. TCU’s status as a private school allows it to recruit a bit more nationally than other Big 12 schools. Plus, Campbell’s west coast roots allow him to mine talent quicker than other league coaches.
Short-term, however, he has to bring in enough talent that can help the Horned Frogs start winning more games and restore the program’s credibility, one that hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2010 under current Kansas State coach Jeff Mittie.
Two coaches taking over two different programs that are in two different places of development. But the expectation is still the same in Morgantown and Fort Worth.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard