Kentucky Next Coach Odds, Predictions: Scott Drew, Billy Donovan Among Favorites
Kentucky Next Coach Odds, Predictions: Scott Drew, Billy Donovan Among Favoritesiv class=”bodyContent col-lg-9 mb-3″>

After John Calipari left Kentucky to become the head coach at Arkansas, we're looking at the latest Kentucky next coach odds with Baylor's Scott Drew and Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan as the early favorites.

Even after Kentucky was knocked out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats still found their way into the headlines in the final hours of March Madness. And the search for their next head coach is the biggest story in college basketball.

John Calipari, who coached Kentucky to one national title in his 15 years at the helm, announced via social media Tuesday that he'll be stepping down as head coach. That comes amid swirling rumors that the three-time Coach of the Year is finalizing a deal to become the next head coach at Arkansas.

His departure leaves a seismic vacancy for arguably the biggest program in the country, and oddsmakers have already posted odds for his replacement. Naturally, that list includes some of the biggest names in the sport – some of whom have already tried to temper expectations and others who have stayed mum.

Here's a look at the latest betting odds for Kentucky's next head coach, including the early favorites and some potential long shots to watch for.

We also highlighted Kentucky and Arkansas among our favorite title bets for next season in our 2025 March Madness odds and predictions.

Kentucky next coach odds

Coach Odds Implied probability
Scott Drew +160 38.46%
Billy Donovan +200 33.33%
Dan Hurley +350 22.22%
Mark Pope +1000 9.09%
Richard Pitino +2000 4.76%
Rick Pitino +2000 4.76%
Sean Miller +2000 4.76%
Chris Beard +2000 4.76%
T.J. Otzelberger +2000 4.76%
Will Wade +2000 4.76%

Other candidates:

  • Bruce Pearl (+2200)
  • Kelvin Sampson (+2500)
  • Nate Oats (+2500)
  • Scott Padgett (+2500)
  • Shaka Smart (+2500)
  • Jay Wright (+2500)
  • Jamie Dixon (+3300)
  • Tommy Lloyd (+3300)
  • Mick Cronin (+3300)
  • Brad Underwood (+3300)
  • Anfernee Hardaway (+3300)
  • Jerome Tang (+4000)
  • Mark Few (+4000)
  • Shaheen Holloway (+5000)
  • Bill Self (+5000)
  • Mike Krzyzewski (+6000)

Favorites to be next Kentucky coach

It's hard to overstate the job that Drew has done in two decades at Baylor, which had reached the NCAA Tournament four times in nearly a century – winning zero games from 1950 until he arrived in 2003.

Since then, the Bears have won nearly 65% of their games with 12 NCAA Tournament appearances and the program's first-ever national title in 2021. Through it all, D rew has remained committed to the school, even with the siren songs of some of the top jobs in the country.

Clearly, oddsmakers think Kentucky is a different beast entirely, and Drew has a prior relationship with athletic director Mitch Barnhart. Perhaps this will finally prove to be the job too big to turn down for Baylor's longtime bench boss.

The moment news broke that Calipari was likely headed to Arkansas, it seemed like Donovan's name was one of the first mentioned by anyone speculating on the caliber of coach that could fill this vacancy.

Surely, the last coach to lead a team to back-to-back titles – before UConn's Dan Hurley joined that group on Monday – would be a hot commodity in coaching circles if he were to be lured back to college. That said, he willingly left a cushy SEC job at Florida to coach in the NBA, where he's remained for the last nine years.

If Donovan wants the Kentucky gig, he'd likely be among the top candidates. The bigger question is whether the biggest job in college is better than one of 30 head-coaching jobs in the Association.

The two-time reigning national championship coach has already swatted away speculation that he would jump ship from UConn to Kentucky. As such, you can probably save your money and avoid betting on Hurley at such short odds.

Still, it's fun to speculate on whether Hurley – who said Monday he wants to oversee “a dynasty in modern times” with the Huskies – would be compelled to lead the biggest brand in college basketball to its first title in over a decade after reviving UConn's storied program over the last six seasons.

At this point, the answer seems to be a resounding “no,” though crazier things have happened when money and power are involved.

Long shots to be next Kentucky coach

One of the only coaches on this list with prior connections to Kentucky, Pope was a key member of the 1996 Wildcats – arguably the best team in program history – and has since enjoyed a successful run as the head coach at Utah Valley (2015-19) and BYU (2019-24).

In a statement Tuesday, Barnhart said the school was working to hire a “proven, highly dedicated coach who embraces the importance of this program to our fans and the state of Kentucky.” Pope certainly seems to fit the latter, though his lack of success at a big-time program could preclude his candidacy this time around.

This couldn't happen … right? Pitino remains one of the most successful coaches in the history of Kentucky basketball, but his myriad scandals and recent move to St. John's suggest that the 72-year-old coach isn't headed back to his old post anytime soon.

It seems that any early steam for this reunion has cooled in r ecent days, but it's still hard to ignore the appeal of Kentucky turning back the clock to restore a title-winning culture for the program – especially with Pitino speaking wistfully about his time in Lexington any chance he gets. At long odds, there are worse bets to make.

Speaking of high-profile coaches with questionable records off the court, Pearl would be another high-upside swing for Kentucky brass if it wants to get back into the championship picture in the immediate future.

Pearl hasn't exactly been the NCAA's best friend over the years, but the longtime college coach has proven to be one of the game's best program-builders after successful runs at Tennessee and Auburn. Pearl knows the SEC and has the pedigree and persona to handle the biggest job in the sport … if he gets the call.

Kentucky head coach FAQs

Baylor coach Scott Drew is the betting favorite (+160) to take over as the next head coach for the Kentucky Wildcats. Those odds imply a 38.46% chance that Drew is the next coach for Kentucky, though that likely overstates the possibility of such a hire before we learn more information.

John Calipari led the Kentucky Wildcats to a national championship in 2012, led by eventual No. 1 pick Anthony Davis. That was the lone title run in Calipari's 15 years at Kentucky.

With a job as big as this one, it's anyone's guess when Kentucky will settle on its next head coach. That said, with the transfer portal dictating the college basketball offseason more than ever, expect the hire to be made sooner rather than later.

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