The next coaching legends

Rick Pitino is a lock to make the Hall of Fame. David Butler II/US Presswire

The guard is changing.

We have already seen one coaching legend walk away this offseason, with the departure of Maryland coach Gary Williams. It's undoubtedly just a matter of time before he's joined by some of the game's elder statesmen as they step away from the sideline and into a well-deserved retirement.

Early in the season, the focus will be on Duke's Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski, as he is on the verge of another career coaching milestone. Fairly quickly, he should pass Bob Knight and his 902 careers wins to become the all-time winningest men's basketball coach at the Division I level.

Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun already have been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. It is quite an honor for an active coach to achieve. But as those coaches face the downslope of their careers, other promising candidates wait to assume the mantle of the next coaching legend, worthy of early admission to the Hall. Who are they exactly? It's not a long list, but there are several coaches who deserve to be considered as heirs to the coaching elite.

The locks

The only thing that separates these guys from their induction is a few dozen calendar pages.

Rick Pitino, Louisville Cardinals: Given Pitino's success at taking three schools to five Final Fours and his ability to sustain high-level success at Kentucky and Louisville, he's a lock. And, when you include winning the national championship with the Wildcats in 1996, it makes sense that he is likely to be inducted very soon. He is three wins from the 600 mark but spent six seasons coaching in the NBA. He surely would be well over 700 wins if not for that interlude.