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Coaching Carousel: Grading the early coaching hires

There has been a trickle of mid-major hires thus far and we take a look at few and how they will affect their teams.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

We've had a handful of coaching hires this month and things are sure to heat up at the Coaches Convention this week in Houston. Here is a look at the hires thus far and how we're grading the new guys.

Arkansas State Red Wolves
Out:
John Brady
In: Grant McCasland
Grade: B+

The Red Wolves tapped Baylor assistant Grant McCasland to take over a squad that has two straight 11 win seasons. McCasland spent five years with Scott Drew and was previously a national champion head coach at the junior college level with Midland College. He prides his team on speed and hard work.  His hire should bring some energy to Jonesboro.

Denver Pioneers
Out:
Joe Scott
In: Rodney Billups
Grade: B

Despite a winning record four of his last five seasons, Joe Scott was let go at Denver. The Pioneers now turn to Rodney Billups, the brother of former NBA star Chauncey Billups.  Billups is a graduate of Denver and has spent the past five years as an assistant at Colorado. Billups will be one of the nation's youngest head coaches at just 33 years old.

Drexel Dragons
Out:
Bruiser Flint
In: Zach Spiker
Grade: A-

It is surprising that this hire wasn't a "Philly guy" or Bashir Mason, but the Dragons did get a proven winner in Zach Spiker. Spiker turned Army into a .500 caliber team and even got the Black Knights in the CIT this season after a 19-14 season. Spiker is a great hire on paper, and it will be fascinating to see if he can make the Dragons a CAA contender once again.

Pacific Tigers
Out:
Ron Verlin
In: Damon Stoudamire 
Grade: B

I don't know how much "Mighty Mouse" will resonate with high schoolers today but this could be a home run hire for the Tigers. Beyond his obvious NBA experience, Stoudamire has spent time as an assistant at Rice, Arizona, Memphis and with the Grizzlies. He may be the guy to jump-start a Tigers program in a bit of trouble.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Out:
Ray Harper
In: Rick Stansbury
Grade: A

Stansbury hasn't been a head coach since 2012, but he knows the state of Kentucky inside and out.  This should be a great hire for Hilltoppers given Stansbury's tremendous success at Mississippi State where he amassed a 293-175 record and sent the Bulldogs to six NCAA tournament appearances. WKU should jump right back into Conference USA contentions with Stansbury at the helm.