Commentary

The future of the game

Coaches like Virginia's Tony Bennett and VCU's Shaka Smart are worth watching

Updated: June 5, 2014, 3:51 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

Shaka Smart Mike Lawrie/Getty ImagesVCU's Shaka Smart already has a Final Four on his résumé.

College basketball has many stars in the coaching profession. Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino, Roy Williams, Bill Self, Billy Donovan, Tom Izzo, Jim Boeheim and John Calipari have all been major factors on the coaching landscape, cutting down the nets as national champions.

But there is a great future for a number of younger coaches deserving of recognition. Let's look at five guys who will be superstars in the coaching fraternity. They are rising stars now and really super at their current schools. I really believe the numbers that they will put up over the next 10 years will be special.

I'm going to start with Virginia coach Tony Bennett. He recently inked a seven-year deal to remain in Charlottesville, and that was a wise move by the Cavaliers brass. He led Virginia to the ACC regular-season and tournament championship; the Cavaliers had previously won the league tournament just once (1976) before his arrival. Bennett has top-10 talent for the upcoming season as the Cavaliers will make more noise.

Minnesota's Richard Pitino has the lineage as the son of Hall of Famer Rick Pitino. Richard led the Golden Gophers to a 25-win season and the NIT championship, beating Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown and SMU in the final. He has a very bright future.

[+] EnlargeSean Miller
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesSean Miller has recruited well at Arizona and led the Wildcats to a No. 1 ranking for much of 2013-14.

VCU's Shaka Smart has already earned a Final Four berth, leading the Rams to glory in 2011. Yes, VCU fell short of the gold trophy, but it was an amazing Cinderella story. Smart has consistently put the program in tournament contention. A number of schools have expressed interest in Smart, but he has found a home at VCU. I expect more great things from him in the future.

Kevin Ollie of Connecticut showed his greatness, leading the Huskies to the 2014 national championship. He relates well to his players and benefited from a new deal with the university.

Sean Miller of Arizona has the Wildcats in the national spotlight again, like Lute Olson before him. Miller has done a great job recruiting and coaching his talent. Arizona was No. 1 in the nation for much of the 2013-14 regular season.

These five coaches have the great ability to do three things that are vital for coaching success. First, they have a magical way of communicating their concepts and theories to everyone involved. Whether it is with their players, in the recruiting world or with the alumni and media, they have the whole package.

Second, they are good salesmen when they go out and recruit. That is a key because you win with good players.

Finally, they know how to run a practice and manage a game. They understand the technical aspects of the coaching world.

When it is all said and done, these five are heading to true superstar status.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.

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