Who could be the next Lady Vols basketball coach?

Tennessee's women's basketball team is in search for their 19th head coach in program history after Kellie Harper was fired on Monday.
GCU Lopes head coach Molly Miller yells out to her team as they take on the ASU Sun Devils at GCU
GCU Lopes head coach Molly Miller yells out to her team as they take on the ASU Sun Devils at GCU / Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY

Tennessee's women's basketball team is in search of its 19th head coach in program history after Kellie Harper was fired on Monday. The Lady Vols have seen some success under Harper but haven't been able to break through in the SEC or NCAA Tournament. 

Harper was hired in 2019 and will finish her tenure as Tennessee's women's basketball coach with a 108–52 record. She replaced Holly Warlick, who was a player and assistant coach under Pat Summitt. Harper was also a player for Pat Summitt, which played a role in Tennessee's decision-making.

This could be the first time since 1973 Tennessee hires a women's basketball coach that isn't Pat Summit or connected to her as a former player or assistant coach. If Danny White and the athletic department want to keep the hiring process in the "family," the clear choice is a short five-hour drive East of Knoxville.

Kara Lawson

If Tennessee wants to bring another former player under Pat Summitt to Knoxville, the first call should be to Duke's Kara Lawson. She played for the Vols from 1999-2003 and then spent 13 years in the WNBA before returning to college basketball to coach.

She doesn't have a dominant record or insane postseason run to hang her hat on, but she embodies a Summitt brand of basketball. Lawson has totaled a 68-33 record at Duke, taking the Blue Devils to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments. Last season, they lost in the Second Round, and this year, Duke advanced to the Sweet Sixteen before being eliminated. 

Lawson wouldn't be a home run hire, but she could bring another former player to Knoxville as the head coach. I don't think Tennessee follows Harper with another former player, but if Tennessee's athletic department wants to try one more time, Lawson is a great option, assuming Candace Parker isn't ready to retire from the WNBA and broadcasting.

Jeff Walz

Jeff Walz was tied to the job opening before Harper was announced as the Lady Vols' next head coach in 2019. He has been at Louisville for 17 seasons, during which time he has made 15 trips to the NCAA Tournament and four Final Four appearances.

This would be a tough get for the Lady Vols. Walz has laid a foundation in Louisville and is likely not interested in leaving anytime soon. If Tennessee were to swing for the fences and land the home run hire, they would have to pay a hefty buyout, which could place high expectations on Walz quickly.

Kentucky seemed to be interested in stealing Walz from their rival but was unsuccessful, so they went on to hire Virginia Tech's head coach, Kenny Brooks. It would be hard for Danny White to get Walz from Louisville, but it would be a statement hire for the Lady Vols.

Lindsay Gottlieb

It would also be tough for Danny White to hire Lindsay Gottlieb from USC, but it's not impossible. USC is getting ready to join the Big Ten, and there were coaches of sports not named football that were not happy with the cross-country travel that comes with that decision.

I don't know where Gottlieb stands on that, but if she's opposed to the idea, this could be her opportunity to get out while taking a historically better job.

Gottlieb has gone 62-31 as USC's head coach and has done some great work on the recruiting trail since becoming the Trojans' head coach. She has a career record of 241-120 from her time at Cal and USC. She knows how to win and recruit and should be one of the top names on Tennessee's list of candidates.

Yolett McPhee-McCuin

If Tennessee can't hire one of the big guns in women's basketball, they should look to go after a coach with SEC experience and success, like Ole Miss' head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. She has helped the Rebels continue to build on their success as a program and contender in a tough conference.

She has built Ole Miss from the ground up, winning only nine games in her first season and seven games in year two. Since then, she has led the Rebels to four straight winning seasons, including three straight double-digit wins in the SEC. Yes, in just six years, she has taken a team that won single-digit games all year to double-digit wins in conference play alone. 

Coach Yo is a heck of a coach who has experience against SEC teams and knows how to win. Tennessee's women's basketball program is in a much better position than Ole Miss' program in 2018. If the Vols want to hire a builder and winner, Coach Yo should be a serious contender for the job.

Molly Miller

The final coaching candidate on this list would be a risky hire. Molly Miller is the head coach of Grand Canyon University and is likely the least-heard coach on this list. While she isn't the most popular, she has been a proven winner in her two stops in her young career.

Miller coached at her alma mater, Drury University, as an assistant in 2012 before becoming head coach in 2014. She then moved on to Grand Canyon University in 2020. She has totaled an impressive 253–47 record as a head coach.

She's young and has only coached at lower levels but has won at both Drury and GCU. She took Drury to the DII women's Final Four in 2019 and has won five conference championships along with her impressive record. Miller might not be Tennessee's most popular or well-known hire, but she could bring her success to the best program in women's college basketball history.

Next. Rick Barnes's best wins at Tennessee. Rick Barnes's best wins at Tennessee. dark

Tennessee athletic director Danny White will have some work to do as he begins his search for the Lady Vols next basketball coach. There are a lot of ways he can go, but I would like to see any of these five coaches in Tennessee Orange in November.