One of the generally missed components of a profitable school basketball program are the assistant coaches. Typically tasked with lengthy hours on the recruiting path and within the movie room, they put in necessary work with out a lot fanfare or public recognition.
In school soccer, energy convention offensive and defensive coordinators are well-known by their fan bases and generally rake in salaries exceeding $1 million. By comparability, school basketball assistants can appear to be comparatively nameless figures seated on the bench, and a $1 million wage is exceedingly uncommon. However on this period, their work is more and more vital.
With the proliferation of the switch portal, rosters are sometimes overhauled every season. That requires extra considerably extra labor for a workers. Scouting and recruiting highschool and switch prospects has basically develop into a 24/7/365 grind. Whereas the NCAA accepted the addition of two extra assistant basketball coaches in January, the brand new assistants usually are not permitted to interact in off-campus recruiting, that means a program’s high three assistants stay their most necessary.
For this week’s version of the Dribble Handoff, our writers are weighing in on which program has the perfect assistant coaches with a heavy emphasis on the highest three.
I will begin the listing with Kansas, partially as a result of no workers has two assistants who’ve been as a lot part of high-level successful over the previous decade. Kurtis Townsend has been at Invoice Self’s facet since 2004. Norm Roberts has been on the Jayhawks’ bench since 2012. Prior to now 11 seasons the trio have secured 9 Large 12 titles, made two Ultimate Fours and received the 2022 NCAA Match.
Townsend and Roberts are among the many the explanation why.
Past that, Self’s workers is crammed with acquainted faces. The third assistant is Jeremy Case, who was a member of KU’s 2008 nationwide title group. He is an alum who has been again in Lawrence since 2016. The director of basketball operations is Fred Quartlebaum, who has been with Self since 2013. The director of student-development is Joe Dooley, who labored for Self for 10 years earlier than spending 9 seasons as a head coach — first at Florida Gulf Coast, then at East Carolina. Former Jayhawk Brady Morningstar is the video coordinator. Former Nebraska coach Doc Sadler, who has been near Self for years, is a senior advisor.
Backside line, there’s an argument to be made that no workers within the nation has a greater mixture of continuity and success. It is among the many the explanation why the Jayhawks have been a No. 1 seed in every of the previous two NCAA Tournaments and can enter this season as the favourite within the betting markets to win the 2024 nationwide championship. — Gary Parrish
I will make the case that no head coach has a extra useful high assistant within the nation than Juwan Howard’s right-hand man Phil Martelli. What different faculties have an assistant with Martelli’s resume. His physique of labor contains 24 years of expertise as a head coach, seven NCAA tourneys and a nationwide coach of the yr award. He is additionally recruited/coached first-round NBA picks — and made it to the doorstep of the Ultimate 4. In reality, Martelli is operating Michigan’s program proper now whereas Howard is out recovering from coronary heart surgical procedure. I spoke with him earlier this week, when he was on the street recruiting for Michigan earlier than flying again to deal with the day-to-day of this system. At 69, he is nonetheless bought the gas to do the job. When it comes to expertise and acumen, I do not suppose anybody has a greater résumé than Martelli, who has additionally been a key determine on basketball committees over time.
Past Martelli, there’s longtime Michigan assistant Saddi Washington has turned down a number of alternatives to teach on the mid-major stage. He’ll finally run a program for himself within the subsequent few years. Washington is ingrained in Michigan’s tradition, having coached there for eight seasons and serving as the important thing transition piece from the John Beilein period. Washington has additionally been the lead recruiter on a variety of future first-round picks to come back out of Michigan. In recent times a number of coaches have inquired about plucking Washington from Michigan, however he is remained loyal.
The third assistant has a background enjoying and training within the NBA. What number of staffs have a 3rd assistant with 20 years of that type of expertise? Not many, however Michigan does. Howard Eisley (12 years enjoying within the NBA, one other 9 teaching) is among the many most revered males in school hoops and the NBA. He fortifies a workers that totals greater than 50 years of teaching expertise alone, not even factoring in enjoying days. From recruiting to growth to X-and-O acumen, few staffs within the nation have as a lot as U-M. — Matt Norlander
There’s arguably no higher teaching workers high to backside — from head coach to closing assistant — in school hoops than the one Kelvin Sampson has assembled. The Cougars persistently do extra with much less. Their working bills, as an illustration, are roughly $2.3 million, practically one-third the quantity of Duke and fewer than one-half the quantity of Kansas, in keeping with knowledge from the U.S. Division of Schooling. Additionally, their resume in recent times speaks for itself. They’ve ranked top-four or higher in every of the final 4 seasons in offensive rebounding charge, top-10 or higher in every of the final three seasons in defensive effectivity and are the second-winningest program on the Division I stage since 2017-18 behind solely Gonzaga. Sampson’s son, Kellen, is head-coach-in-waiting and successfully a head coach in a lead assistant position. In addition they have a star in Quannas White, now Affiliate Head Coach, who as soon as performed beneath Sampson at OU. Quick-rising assistant in Okay.C. Beard has labored his manner up from video coordinator to the bench. With two Elite Eight appearances within the final three seasons, and 4 Candy 16s since 2019, the success each within the common season and within the postseason for this Houston workers is as comparable — and typically, higher — than every other within the sport. — Kyle Boone
When Jay Wright shocked the school basketball world by retiring two and a half weeks after his group’s 2022 Ultimate 4 run ended, this system transitioned rapidly to successor Kyle Neptune. Neptune had simply completed his first season at Fordham. The timing and magnitude of the change took its toll, however the Wildcats are poised for a big bounce-back from final season’s 17-17 mark in 2023-24. That is due largely to the workers Neptune assembled and retained. It skews younger, is heavy on Villanova expertise and now options one other member with latest head teaching expertise. Neptune introduced the hiring of Ashley Howard on Might 10 after 4 seasons as the top coach at La Salle. He was on workers with Neptune beneath Wright throughout this system’s 2016 and 2018 nationwide titles and provides Neptune one other trusted aide who has been by means of fires as a head coach and with the Wildcats.
Fellow assistants Mike Nardi and Dwayne Anderson II are additionally Villanova veterans. Nardi was on workers for each of Wright’s nationwide titles, and Anderson is a former Wildcats guard who has been on workers since 2018 after a number of seasons at Penn State. The continuity from Wright to Neptune speaks to their collective perception in Neptune and their buy-in to Wright’s succession plan. However this workers can also be infusing a wholesome dose of modernization into this system by touchdown one of many nation’s high switch lessons for the 2023-24 season. This workers boasts all of the championship-caliber expertise, continuity and cohesion to cement its place among the many nation’s greatest over the subsequent couple of seasons beneath Neptune’s course. — David Cobb
It is necessary to notice the perfect (and generally most protected) transition a program could make when changing a head coach is to rent from inside. On this case, Duke tabbed former participant and affiliate head coach Jon Scheyer to take over this system when Mike Krzyzewski retired. Changing some of the achieved coaches within the historical past of the game is not a simple job, however the transition has been seamless on the courtroom and the recruiting path. Duke completed the 2023 recruiting cycle with the No. 2 total class and the Blue Devils received the ACC event in Scheyer’s first yr on the helm.
Duke has two former gamers on its teaching workers in Chris Carrawell and Will Avery. Carrawell joined Krzyzewski’s workers in 2018 and was promoted to affiliate head coach in 2021. Avery was employed in July and that is his first full-time teaching place within the school ranks. Having three former gamers on the workers who know the tradition of a blue blood like Duke is efficacious. Scheyer employed former Kentucky recruiting coordinator Jai Lucas final summer time after which promoted him to affiliate head coach this previous June. Tradition generally is a very cliché time period, however it’s clear the Duke program has a course transferring ahead and has a workers that may recruit and develop the perfect expertise within the nation. — Cameron Salerno