Is Willard on his way out?

Virginia Tech eyeing Seton Hall head coach to fill vacancy

Following arguably his most impressive coaching job in nine years at Seton Hall, Kevin Willard is finally garnering attention for Power 5 head coaching vacancies.

According to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, Virginia Tech is eyeing Willard to replace Buzz Williams, who bolted for Texas A&M after leading the Hokies to a Sweet 16 appearance this past season.

Kevin Willard has emerged as a candidate for the Virginia Tech head coaching job. Sarah Yenesel/Photography Editor

Since coming over to Seton Hall from Iona in 2010, Willard has taken a Pirates program that was a mess following the firing of Bobby Gonzalez and returned it to relevance. After five seasons without an NCAA Tournament appearance, Willard led Seton Hall to a Big East Tournament championship in 2015-16, four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and four consecutive 20-win seasons, something no coach in program history had previously accomplished. This past season, he guided a young, inexperienced team that was projected to wind up in the NIT to a 20-win season and NCAA Tournament bid.

Willard has also nearly perfected the science that is recruiting at Seton Hall.

Compared to some of the other schools around the Big East, Seton Hall’s facilities do not stack up. Nonetheless, Willard has secured the commitments of some high-level talents, including Isaiah Whitehead, Angel Delgado, Desi Rodriguez, Khadeen Carrington and Myles Powell, among others.

In the coming days, Willard will have a tough decision to make. Does he leave South Orange for Virginia Tech? Or, does he stay at Seton Hall for one last run at glory with next year’s team, which features Powell, three other returning starters, a handful of key reserves and three impact newcomers?

The allure of coaching in the ACC and working with the facilities Virginia Tech has to offer may be too good of an opportunity to pass up. With this in mind, Seton Hall will need to prepare itself for a possible unexpected head coaching search.

Either way, the next week or so will be a stressful time in South Orange.

Willard has brought stability to a program that desperately needed it, but that is now in jeopoardy as he could now look to move up the coaching ranks and take his talents to college basketball’s premier conference.

Virginia Tech could be the opportunity that Willard desires after being passed over for the Pittsburgh job last offseason.

If the Pirates want to ensure Willard returns next season, Athletic Director Pat Lyons will have to pony up and make him an offer he can’t refuse both financially and facility wise. Either way, the next week or so will be a stressful time in South Orange.

Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at tyler.calvaruso@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.

Author: Tyler Calvaruso

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