Maryland Hires Seton Hall’s Kevin Willard As Men’s Basketball Coach

The University of Maryland has hired Seton Hall’s Kevin Willard as its next men’s basketball coach, the school announced March 21.

Jeff Ermann of 247Sports was first to report that Willard’s hiring was imminent.

Maryland and Mark Turgeon parted ways in early December after 10-plus seasons. Danny Manning took over on an interim basis, coaching the Terps during their final 24 games of the 2021-22 season. Maryland finished the season 15-17 overall and 7-13 in the Big Ten, with the coaching search being the dominant storyline throughout the year.

Willard, 46, has been speculated as a possible fit for Maryland’s opening ever since Turgeon’s departure. Seton Hall lost to TCU, 69-42, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament March 18, allowing Maryland to zero in on Willard.

“Growing up and coaching in the region, I have always admired Maryland basketball,” Willard, a native of Huntington, N.Y., said in a statement. “Being named head coach of one of the nation’s premier basketball programs is a tremendous honor. Thank you to President [Darryll] Pines and Damon Evans for trusting me to energize this proud program as we look to galvanize our passionate fanbase with a gritty, hard-working style of basketball.

“Having coached against Maryland several times and at Xfinity Center, I know how Terp fans feel about this team. I embrace the high expectations. Skill development and a dedication to academic success will be cornerstones of our program and I can promise Terp Nation we will work to make them proud of this basketball team as we build winners on the court and in the classroom. [My wife] Julie and our boys are excited to join the Terrapin family.”

Willard had been the head coach at Seton Hall since 2010-11, posting a 225-161 record in 12 seasons. The Pirates have qualified for five of the past six NCAA Tournaments and would have made six of seven had the 2020 tournament not been canceled due to COVID-19. Seton Hall won the Big East tournament championship in 2016 and earned the conference regular-season title in 2020.

Though Willard had a successful run at Seton Hall, he didn’t have much postseason success outside of that Big East tournament championship. He won one NCAA Tournament game (an 89-73 victory against NC State in the first round in 2018) during his time in South Orange, N.J. However, his best team — the one that went 20-9 overall in 2019-20 — did not get a chance to go dancing due to COVID-19.

Willard began his coaching career as an assistant with the Boston Celtics (1997-2001) under Rick Pitino. Willard then followed Pitino to Louisville, where he was an assistant from 2001-2007 before becoming the head coach at Iona (2007-2010). He won MAAC Coach of the Year honors for his efforts during the 2009-10 season, when he led the Gaels to a 21-10 mark.

Willard now takes over a Maryland program in need of a jolt. Though the Terps have qualified for five of the past seven NCAA Tournaments — and it would have been six of eight if not for COVID-19 — they have reached the Sweet 16 just twice since winning the national championship in 2002. This season marked Maryland’s first losing season since 1992-93.

The Terps’ roster will also look different next year. Top scorers Fatts Russell (15.1 points per game in 2021-22) and Eric Ayala (14.7) are moving on, while other contributors can explore their options via the transfer portal.

Photo Credit: Seton Hall Athletics

Luke Jackson

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