Up on deck next, the current head coach of North Carolina Central, Levelle Moton.
Important Questions, In Rough Order Of Importance:
1. Has he coached teams that have won a national title, made multiple deep NCAA tournament runs, and/or consistently been highly ranked?
Central has been a solid program under Moton, and has one NCAA tournament appearance but has not won a game in the Big Dance just yet. Right now, Lunardi has Central penciled in as a 16 seed, which I would imagine is under the assumption that Central will win the MEAC’s automatic bid (and they should). So on the whole, Moton hasn’t really accomplished any of these goals yet.
2. Has he built a program from the ground up?
Pretty much. Moton is in his eighth season at Central. When he started at Central, they went 7-22 in his first season, and jumped to 15-15 in year two. By year five, their third year in the MEAC, they had won the conference and earned an NCAA Tournament bid. It’s pretty much without question that none of this happens at Central without Moton at the helm.
3. Has he substantially improved the program from when he took over?
Absolutely, for the reasons stated above. While the Eagles took a step backwards last year finishing 13-19 overall and tied for sixth in the MEAC, they are 19-6 currently and are on a ten game winning streak, so needless to say they’ve done a good job erasing last year.
4. Has he succeeded at more than one head coaching job?
No, as this is still his first head coaching job in Division One. Previously, he was an assistant at Central for a few seasons, and was the head coach at Sanderson High School in Raleigh prior to that.
5. Does he have significant high-major experience as either a head coach or an assistant?
Aside from elsewhere at Central, no he does not.
6. Is his team one of the best in its conference right now?
Yes, they currently lead the MEAC at 10-1 in conference play, 19-6 overall. While they have a one game lead in terms of conference play over Norfolk State, they hold a significant edge in overall record. In fact, Central is the only team in the entire conference with an overall winning record currently.
7. Do his teams actually play, what is this thing called, "defense"?
Well, compared to NC State, yes. They’re only ranked 117th in Kenpom Defensive Efficiency this season, which is still light years better than the Pack is now. Last year Central finished 298th in Kenpom Defensive Efficiency, which kind of goes hand in hand why they had a down year last year. The year prior to that, they finished 85th, so Moton is certainly capable of having a decent defensive team.
8. So how about offense?
Despite the fact they’re on a ten game winning streak this season, the Eagles have a pretty mediocre offense according to Kenpom, currently ranked 191st. However, this is again a significant improvement from last season, where they were ranked 293rd in offensive efficiency. In the season prior, they were ranked 150th. So, not the greatest in terms of offense.
9. Any indication that he can recruit McDonald’s All-American-type players?
I can’t find where Central has had a McDonald’s All-American nominee during Moton’s tenure, but his teams definitely play hard and battle from start to finish. You won’t see anything like the current team’s attitude of giving up at the slightest hint of adversity with Moton as coach. If he is hired at NC State, I definitely believe he can recruit these types of players to play for the Pack.
10. Does he have any connection to NC State, North Carolina, or the ACC?
Yes, absolutely. He currently coaches at Central and regularly plays against some of the ACC schools, even beating NC State in 2013 in Raleigh.
11. Any other random red flags or positives?
Have you seen this guy’s suit game? It’s absolutely incredible. Just look at this!
That’s a red and white houndstooth jacket. I truly wish I had suit game that strong. My goodness.
Would he be better than Gottfried?
Difficult to say right now. Probably not immediately - Moton would need at least a couple seasons to get things going at NC State. I think he certainly can have great success at NC State, and he’s likely someone that if he could build success would stay for a number of years. By all anecdotal evidence I’ve seen, players REALLY love playing for Moton, and I think he would be able to keep players at State longer and lessen the transfer issue that has been a thorn in the Pack’s side for a while.
Would he be better than Sid?
100% yes. That’s not even a question in my mind.
Would he take the job if offered?
He’s been with Central a while, and has been an important part of their program. However, a chance to take his coaching to the next level against the best of the business would be hard for him to turn down in my mind. He’d have access to more resources, have much more notoriety and access to national television, which would certainly help his ability to recruit. I think he definitely would take the job, yes.
How would I feel if he were hired?
While he would not be my first choice, I think Moton is going to make a significant impact wherever he coaches. There were rumors he was under consideration for the Iowa State gig after Fred Hoiberg left for the Bulls a couple of years ago. If he ends up at NC State, I think he’ll do great things for the Wolfpack.
How would the fan base as a whole feel if he were hired?
Hard to say. I feel like right now the fan base is dead set on Archie Miller and whiffing on him is going to deem the whole search a failure, which is unfortunate, but this is where we are right now. If Moton is the guy though, I hope the fans will give him a chance, because he could be very successful at NC State.