Grading the first-year coaches in women's basketball

North Texas Athletics

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Six new head coaches took over Division I WBB programs in Texas before this past season. We don't usually get that kind of movement among head coaches—for example, we currently have zero openings this cycle.

Right after these coaches were hired, I put together some grades for the hires. But a lot has changed since last April, so it's time to revisit these hires now that we have one year of evidence under our belts.

Let's look at the final grades for the six first-year Division I coaches.


Jason Burton, North Texas

Preseason Grade: A-

Considering Jason Burton won our award for WBB Coach of the Year, you can probably figure out where this grade is going to land.

I had some concerns about the transition for Burton from A&M Commerce to North Texas. Burton had just one year of Division I experience under his belt and the Lions were 13-19 against Division I opponents in that season. But his years of Division II success mixed with the fact that the Lions went 12-9 in conference play despite missing their best player for most of the conference schedule was enough to convince the Mean Green that Burton was their man.

How did that turn out? UNT had its winningest season ever and won the program's first conference title since 1986. Leading a school to arguably its best season ever in your first season is a huge accomplishment.

Final Grade: A


Mark Campbell, TCU

Preseason Grade: A

TCU spent the first half of the season looking like the most interesting team in the country. It spent the second half as an injury-riddled shell of itself. Mark Campbell deserves credit for the first part of that and only a little bit of blame for the second half—he can't control injuries, but it maybe would have been good if he'd brought in a little extra depth ahead of the season.

Campbell made his mark by bringing in some really key transfers, including Sedona Prince and Madison Conner. The duo combined to average 39 points per game for the Horned Frogs, with the team going undefeated in non-conference play.

Things cratered from there, but how much can you blame Campbell for that? Injuries hit the team so hard that they had to forfeit multiple games and bring in walk-ons, leading to a six-player rotation that was missing Prince and Conner for a little while. 

Final Grade: A-


Leonard Bishop, Stephen F. Austin

Preseason Grade: B+

If we were looking exclusively at the season itself, Leonard Bishop would deserve an A, but we have to talk about the big picture with the Ladyjacks, and that includes the transfer portal.

On the good side, Bishop led the Ladyjacks to a 20-12 record against Division I opponents and advanced to the WAC title game, where the team lost to California Baptist. SFA survived losing its head coach and two of its best players to West Virginia and it really looked like Bishop had this program ready to contend in the conference just like Mark Kellogg had.

But that future feels a little cloudy now. Six players are in the portal, which includes the team's second, third, fourth and fifth-leading scorers. Bishop's going to have to bring in a lot of talent this offseason to keep the Ladyjacks competitive.

Final Grade: B


Keitha Adams, UTEP

Preseason Grade: A-

Keitha Adams' preseason grade was slightly inflated by the circumstances by which she returned to UTEP. Kevin Baker's sudden resignation put the program in a bind, and luring Adams away from Wichita State seemed like a good move considering the Miners likely weren't expecting to be in the market for a coach.

One year in though, it's clear that the transition from Baker to Adams wasn't a smooth one. The Miners had 10 wins over Division I opponents, their fewest since the 2018-19 season. That number represents half the win total from the 2022-23 season.

To make matters worse for UTEP, seven players are currently in the portal, including Adhel Tac and Mahri Petree, the team's third and fourth leading scorers. Adams does deserve a lot of credit for bringing Jane Asinde with her from Wichita State though, as Asinde's 16.1 points per game led the Miners.

Final Grade: C


Bill Brock, Tarleton

Preseason Grade: A

I was really excited to see long-time assistant coach Bill Brock finally get a chance to lead a Division I program, but at first glance, the results in his first season at Tarleton looked pretty similar to the results Misty Wilson posted in the team's first three seasons in Division I.

The Texans went 10-20 against Division I opponents, struggling on both sides of the ball as they ranked 256th in both offensive and defensive rating. The -8.7 net rating was a small improvement over the -9.8 net rating from Wilson's final season.

But here's where Brock showed improvement: the Texans went 8-14 in WAC play, a big improvement over the 2-16 that the team went the year before. The team only won half as many non-conference Division I games, but conference play is what matters, right?

It's going to be tough for anyone to win in Stephenville, but Brock's first season goes down as a moderate improvement over where things were at before.

Final Grade: C+


Valerie King, Texas A&M-Commerce

Preseason Grade: B

Following Jason Burton at A&M-Commerce was always going to be a tough task, but Valerie King did a decent job of it. Her Lions team won as many Division I games as Burton did in his final year there and the team was a respectable 10-11 in Southland play.

That she did this with Dyani Robinson and DesiRay Kernal gone to UNT with Burton is a great sign for the future of this Lions program. Maybe the program isn't positioned to win the Southland in the near future like it was under Burton, but the floor right looks to be in the middle of the conference, which is a good result considering how soon into the Division I transition the program is.

Final Grade: B

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