Caleb Daniels was out to dinner with his family on a Wednesday night last spring when he received a text message from Joey Flannery, the director of basketball operations for the Villanova men’s program.

It was sent to all the team instructing them to meet in the film room at eight p.m. on April 20th.

“We never have meetings that late so it was quite unusual,” Daniels was recalled. “We all came there at 8, and that’s when we heard the news.”

The news — which had already leaked onto social media — was that the team’s longtime coach, Jay Wright, would be retiring at age 60, and Kyle Neptune, a former Villanova assistant who led Fordham in 2021-22, would succeed him. Wright spoke first to the team in an emotional meeting. Neptune then followed his lead.

“Definitely our head was spinning,” Daniels said. “I was just trying to figure out what was really going on, trying to fathom what was going on.”

With a new season underway, Neptune, 37, is one of two young men’s basketball coaches replacing legends of the game. He succeeds Wright, who won two national championships at Villanova and led the program to four Final Fours, including April’s in New Orleans. Jon Scheyer, 35 years old, will take over at Duke from Mike Krzyzewski who, after leading his team to five N.C.A.A. championships, retired at 75. championships — second in the men’s game only to John Wooden’s 10 with U.C.L.A. — and 13 Final Fours, including last season’s.

“For me, I don’t think about it as much as people think,” Neptune declared. “All I can do is try to be my own man and try to do the best I can do for Villanova.”

On the women’s side, Coquese Washington, 51, a W.N.B.A. champion as a player, is replacing one of the game’s most accomplished coaches, C. Vivian Stringer, at Rutgers. Stringer, 74-year-old Hall of Famer ranks fifth in career wins and is the only N.C.A.A. coach. Three different programs have been to the Final Four in history.

It’s Washington’s second head coaching job after having led Penn State to three regular-season conference championships from 2007-19.

“Following a legend, it’s hard,” said the West Virginia men’s coach, Bob Huggins, a fellow Hall of Famer. “I’m sure they’ll do a great job, but it’s hard.

“Those are huge shoes to fill. Huge.”

High expectations are also expected, especially at Duke which is tied at No. 7 in the preseason poll by The Associated Press, while Villanova is ranked No. 16.

“Every single thing they do is going to be under a microscope,” said Rick Pitino, the Iona men’s coach who is a Hall of Famer, adding he believed Scheyer and Neptune were “ready for the job.”

“As long as recruiting stays strong, those guys will do great,” Pitino added.

Scheyer was a captain on Duke’s 2009-10 championship team and then played professionally both overseas and in the U.S. before returning to Duke as a special assistant in 2013-14. In 2018, Scheyer was promoted to the position of associate head coach.

Scheyer and Krzyzewski were able to share their responsibilities when he announced his retirement in June 2021. Scheyer was able to concentrate on recruiting in the spring and summer while Krzyzewski could be on campus and help his last team.

The plan worked: Duke won 32 games in the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season championship, before losing to North Carolina in the semifinals.

Scheyer was not only No. 1 class for 2022, according to’s rankings, but Duke also has the No. 1 class of 2023.

“That’s why I think there was a sense of urgency from the school to announce the next head coach and to announce the plans for Coach K where we could continue to recruit at the highest level and to bring in the big-big-time players,” Scheyer spoke to The Sunday Review in 2021.

As Scheyer’s coaching tenure begins, junior guard Jeremy Roach, the team’s captain, says the vibe is “generally the same.”

He also added: “They kind of embody the same culture and of coming in every practice giving 110 percent, bringing the energy, so it means kind of the same thing.”

At Villanova, the transition wasn’t planned in Duke’s military fashion, but there is still a lot of continuity.

Neptune was only away from the program for one year while coaching at Fordham, and he recruited or coached virtually all the Wildcats’ current players. He also kept intact Wright’s staff of assistant coaches and his three-man recruiting class, headlined by the five-star freshman forward Cam Whitmore.

“It’s comfortable because they kept it in the family and we know him personally and as a coach,” Daniels is a graduate student guard. “So we’re willing to play even harder for him, the same way we would do coach Wright.”

Neptune finished 16-16 during his Fordham season. Fordham is part of the Atlantic 10 Conference. It is far from the bright lights of Big East. Nonconference play includes games against Iowa State, Michigan State, and possibly North Carolina. 1.

Keith Urgo was an assistant to Neptune in Fordham before he succeeded him. He believes Neptune is the right fit for Villanova.

“He had the learning curve last year,” He stated. “I think there’s always a learning curve as a head coach or even as an assistant coach.”

Dr. John Giannini, a longtime head coach at La Salle who now works as TV analyst, said he was impressed that during Neptune’s lone season at Fordham he pioneered new coaching tactics and didn’t simply try to mimic Wright’s tendencies.

“Everything he did was very different from what Villanova did,” Giannini said. “Multiple defenses, more combination defense, it was just very different and it was very successful.”

Washington is unique at Rutgers. Though Stringer retired in the spring, she actually hadn’t coached since the end of the 2020-21 season. Although she took a leave last year, Rutgers didn’t address the reason when it announced her absence. Stringer, who is a survivor of cancer, was reportedly Beware of a decrease in coronavirus testing.

Tim Eatman served as the program’s acting head coach last season, when the Scarlet Knights finished 11-20 overall and 3-14 in the Big Ten. Washington was appointed the new head coach in May.

“Our style of play may be a little different,” She spoke at Big Ten media conference. “Coach Stringer was known for great defense and low-scoring games. I kind of would like to score a little few more points so the pace may be a little bit different.”

It may be difficult to play a fast pace as there are only eight scholarship players on the team, three of them transfers and two freshmen.

“It’s very fun with only eight,” Erica Lafayette, the junior forward returning to her team told at the team’s media day. “It’s very fast, and I feel like we bond more. Our open conversations are better. We don’t have time to clique off and do anything because we are such a small group. You see one person and you want to see everybody.”

Scheyer, Neptune, and Washington will all be judged on their wins and losses at the end. Scheyer’s guidance, Duke is now 2-0 and will face No. 5 Kansas in Indianapolis’ Champions Classic. Washington, however, improved to 2-1 after beating the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Neptune is currently at 1-1 after falling to Temple on Friday. Villanova and Neptune will play Delaware State on Monday.

The coaches can look to North Carolina’s Hubert Davis for some inspiration. Last season, he became the first new men’s coach to lead his team to the N.C.A.A. He won the championship in his first full season as the head coach, replacing Roy Williams, who was a Hall of Famer and three time champion.

“They’re going to go through their bumps of running a blue-blood organization, you know?” Ed Cooley, Providence Coach.

He also added: “Your biggest donors want to know that their hard-earned dollars are going towards winning so it’s a fine balance and you do the best that you can. You make sure you work hard every single day, you try to find the best fit for who you are as the person and coach and you gotta get a little lucky. It’s a hard balance, it’s fun.”