Who ESPN says are favorites to be UW Huskies’ next hoops coach

Mar 21, 2024, 2:43 PM

UW Huskies Danny Sprinkle...

Head coach Danny Sprinkle of the Utah State Aggies on Feb. 10, 2024. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

(Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

The UW Huskies need a new head coach for their men’s basketball team, with the Mike Hopkins era ending on Montlake after a 17-15 season in 2023-24.

UW Huskies part ways with hoops head coach Mike Hopkins

Hopkins took over in 2017 after a long assistant coaching career at Syracuse, his alma mater. He led the Huskies to an NIT Tournament appearance his first year and then guided Washington to the NCAA Tournament in 2018-19 while winning the Pac-12.

The Huskies haven’t made the tournament since, though, and the school is now looking for a new head coach after seven seasons under Hopkins.

So who will that be? According to an ESPN coaching tracker post written by Jeff Borzello, there are two names in particular to keep an eye on with UW’s opening.

“In the days leading up to Mike Hopkins’ firing, the name at the forefront to replace him was Utah State’s Danny Sprinkle,” Borzello wrote. “He was still the favorite to get the job entering the week.”

The wrinkle, Borzello noted, is that Troy Dannen resigned as UW’s athletic director on Wednesday in order to take that same job at Nebraska.

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“Does athletic director Troy Dannen leaving for Nebraska change anything about the search? It’s unlikely, given how far along the Huskies were in the process,” Borzello wrote. “Besides Sprinkle, the one name that keeps popping up is Boise State’s Leon Rice.”

Let’s take a quick look at Sprinkle and Rice.

Potential UW Huskies coach candidates

Danny Sprinkle

Sprinkle, 47, was born in Pullman, Wash., and attended Montana State for college.

After a few different assistant coaching jobs, Sprinkle became head coach at his alma mater in 2019. In four years at Montana State, Sprinkle’s Bobcats went 81-43 with a Big Sky Conference title, two Big Sky Tournament championships and two NCAA Tournament appearances.

He left Montana State for Utah State this year, and the Aggies are 27-6 and won the Mountain West conference. Sprinkle and Utah State are an 8-seed and face TCU in the NCAA Tournament on Friday night.

Overall, Sprinkle is 108-49 with two conference titles and three NCAA Tourney bids as a head coach.

Leon Rice

Rice, like Sprinkle, is also from eastern Washington, having been born in Richland. He went to junior college at Columbia Basin and then Washington State University.

The 60-year-old Rice started his coaching career as an assistant at Oregon, then spent time at Northern Colorado before returning to Washington to be an assistant at Yakima Valley Community College, where he took over as head coach in 1998-99. He then left the junior college ranks for Gonzaga, where he was an assistant from 1999-2010.

Rice took over as head coach at Boise State in 2010, where he has remained to this day.

In 14 years at Boise State, Rice has a 290-166 record with two Mountain West Conference titles and five NCAA Tournament appearances. The Broncos went 22-11 this year and made the NCAA Tournament, losing to Colorado in a First Four game on Wednesday.

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