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Why it makes sense for Penn State to hire Mike Rhoades as new basketball coach

It would make a lot of sense for Penn State to hire Mike Rhoades as its next basketball coach.



Mike Rhoades of VCU, Penn State basketball, head coach, transfer portal
Mar 16, 2023; Albany, NY, USA; VCU Rams head coach Mike Rhoades speaks during a press conference at MVP Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, following one of the best basketball seasons in Penn State history, former head coach Micah Shrewsberry decided to leave the program in favor of the same role with Notre Dame. He is from South Bend, so the move made sense for him, but the Penn State basketball program is currently a mess — it has no head coach, there is in-fighting over NIL support, and above all else, 12 players are now on their way out the door via graduation, the transfer portal, and the NBA Draft. The offseason is not quite in full swing yet, but if Penn State wants to remain competitive, it needs to lock down a solid head coach like Mike Rhoades of VCU.

Time is of the essence for Penn State basketball

The NCAA tournament is still going, with the Final Four fast approaching — the winners will play for the coveted national championship. Despite the season still going, Penn State’s offseason has already begun, and there is no time to waste when it comes to finding the program’s next head basketball coach. With around nine open scholarship spots on the roster right now, the program is pretty bare bones for the time being — this means that Penn State’s next head coach will need to hit the transfer portal extremely hard to bring in some short-term replacements.

Rumors are flying about Penn State University hiring Mike Rhoades as its new basketball coach

This weekend, rumors started to fly that Penn State University is targeting PA native Mike Rhoades — who has incredibly strong ties to central PA and is proud of it — as its new head basketball coach. Throughout the past six years, Rhoades has done an incredible job with VCU hoops, boasting a 129-61 overall record, two A-10 championships (most recently in 2023), and appearing in the NCAA tournament three times.

Yesterday, reports confirmed that Penn State and Rhoades met to discuss to head coach opening — one source even claimed that there was a deal on the table. Today, the general feeling in the air is that Mike Rhoades of VCU will be the next head basketball coach at Penn State.

Why does hiring Mike Rhoades make sense for Nittany Lion hoops?

If the Nittany Lions are serious about hiring Mike Rhoades of VCU, it would actually make a lot of sense for the program and for Rhoades himself. Rhoades has central Pennsylvania roots — in fact, he is quite proud of it — and there is a solid chance that he is looking to make a return to the state at some point. With countless players on their way out, Rhoades could hit the portal and start recruiting his own players and implement his own play style right off the bat — it may take a couple of seasons, but Penn State basketball is currently a blank canvas that he can do what he wants with.

For Penn State, seeing a coach like Rhoades that has done more with less at VCU makes him seem like an easy choice. Sure, Dusty May of FAU is a hotter name, but there is a very good chance that May is not interested in taking the Penn State job. The current VCU head coach has very strong ties to the region — unlike Micah Shrewsberry — as he has spent the majority of his life there (sound familiar?), meaning he is more likely to stick around for a full rebuild instead of using PSU as a stepping stone.

Mike Rhoades was born and raised in Mahanoy City in Schuylkill County. He played at D-III Lebanon Valley College, where he was a two-time All-American and D-III National Player of the Year in 1995. Leaving as the program’s leading scorer, Rhoades was inducted into the LVC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014. Rhoades then spent almost two decades as an assistant and later head coach at Randolph-Macon College (D-III) in Virginia. As a head coach, he led the Yellow Jackets to four NCAA tournament appearances and had a .722 winning percentage.

Rhoades would be a great hire for the Penn State Nittany Lions, and one that the school should make as soon as it possibly can so that he can start building PSU hoops into a winner again via the transfer portal and high school recruiting.

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Chris Mangum is currently a Penn State student and serves as a writer and editor covering Big Ten athletics. He has served as a beat writer, online reporter, print reporter, and more over the past few years of his career. He currently serves as the managing editor for Basic Blues Nation and others.