Able to read and react in real time, like the soon to be head coach they are, these assistants have earned the complete confidence of their boss. In game decisions, their advice for close calls, stressful game deciding situations, their overall visions and more are often noticed and acted upon by their head coach.
*former DI head coaches in the 2000 era, and immediate family members of their current head coach were excluded from this list.
Ryan Cross – ULM
Cross was a successful juco coach who overseas every roll on Richard’s staff; and his boss leans on him heavily. He has tremendous game-time and program-management feel and is a tireless worker. One of the most well liked and well respected mid major assistant coaches in the country.
Jason Hart - USC
A really talented coach and recruiter, he has a great feel for the game and adjustments. His deep knowledge of the game positions him on the front line of in game strategy. Hart commands the mutual respect of fans, player, staff, assistant coaches, his head coach and the entire athletics administration alike.
Doug Esleeck - UNCW
He has implemented and managed defensive schemes resulting league leading field goal percentage defense and scoring defense. Spearheading scouting efforts with such detail, he is often the only one in the building qualified to make the calls.
Eric Haut - Kent State
When Senderoff landed his first coaching job his initial call went to Haut. Like a big brother, and his biggest mentor, Haut always knew he was going to work for him. And work it does. The deep understanding of his former coach’s methods, the “Kent State Way” and outcomes allows for orderly decision-making transitions between the two gaining way in every run and situation.
Chris Shumate - NKU
With each step up the ladder, he has developed a wide scope through his keen sense of the game, and his players. When combined, that understanding helps tremendously with his decisions. Players see a real mentor in Shumate and a big part of that is his care to always put them in a situation where they can be successful and improve. Even if that means pivoting from the original plan.
Brian Burg - Texas Tech
The JUCO level allowed him to develop his skills early regarding on-the-floor coaching and all other aspects of running a program. Today he manages the game and expectations masterfully. He echo’s Beards voice as well as some of the games greatest coaches (Levelle Moton, Kermit Davis). Learning from his colleagues, sometimes, its as if Beards former top assistants Ogdon and Pinkins never left.
Rand Chappell - Eastern Illinois
Unique to this list, as the only coach to guide a program through the transition from DII to DI, Chappell’s experience speaks for itself. His career as a head coach saw a record of 358–203. During that time he led six teams to DII post play and won more than 20 games in each season for 12 consecutive years. You don’t accomplish that without being able to make decisions in game.
Ross Hodge - UNT
Best of friends on and off the court, HC McCasland will always listen to Hodge. He is also highly regarded by players and administrators for his character and recruiting ability. Add to this his highly successful former HC experience at the Juco level, and his decision to leave Colorado State, its clear Hodge has the vision and ability to make the difficult decision in real time.
Brian Blaney - Providence
Blaney spent three seasons under Ed Cooley at Fairfield. His strong feel and understanding of wins and NCAA, NIT post season play was a lifelong lesson learned well. Son of New England coaching legend George Blaney, he ate x’s and o’s three times a day for every meal his entire life. And for dessert, he was served strategic samples by his dad’s boss, Jim Calhoun.
Aaron Mckie - Temple
With his upright stance, binocular vision, binaural hearing, sharp talons, and feathers adapted for silent flight, the wise owl carefully observes his prey as the coach in waiting. Two and a half months away from flying in his own, the handover is in full swing, McKie has more responsibility and sets his own tone. Dunphy being the professional that he is, has the lines of communication wide open.
Brad Soucie - Liberty
Soucie has been with McKay every step of the way for 23 years. Time and time again he transforms the worst to the best defenses in the country. Twenty-three years is a long time to do anything, And McKay knows that journey is a direct benefit from working with Soucie. His impact on so many lives and commitment to enhancing their program is unmistakeable.
Mike Nardi - Villanova
Nardi experienced the game in real time, on the court, in situations most only dream about. The standout guard during the Wildcats climb to national prominence, left his resume on the court ranking in school history for career assists, points, and impressions. Rejoining his head coach Wright was a no brainer as the two evolve the special relationship between player coach.
Wes Long - MTSU
Long involved with winning programs, he was part of back-to-back NCAA’s at VCU, and as a head coach himself, at DII Queens U of Charlotte (75-66). His Long standing career coaching against MTSU allowed him to become familiar with the community; not to mention his wife from nearby Columbia TN. Put it all together and you get a guy who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that his head coach relies on heavily.
Terry Weigand – Duquesne
Weigand brings over twenty-five years of experience to the Duquesne bench. Thirteen of those seasons were spent as an assistant on Dambrot’s staff in Akron. Prior to that he played for his current boss two years at Tiffin. He also brings small college head coaching experiences and furthers that storied past by rebuilding a program in Mount Union. Their he captured the schools first winning season in eighteen years as they advanced to the DII Sweet Sixteen.
Chris Caputo - Miami
With the keen ability to apply his studies of equilibrium, he understands evolving situations. Each player is assumed to know the equilibrium strategies of the others, none has anything to gain by changing only their own strategy. And his boss understands it all too well as a fellow economist.
Gus Argenal - Nevada
Muscleman felt the stress level of the job decrease dramatically after Argenal started working for him. The well-traveled DII HC, and DI assistant has a high IQ, having played PG for highly academic UC Davis. He is known as a coach with great enthusiasm and energy that elevates his success in culture, player relationships, and schemes.
Jason Shay - ETSU
The Bucs don't miss a beat with assistant coach Shay taking over for the win as acting head coach. Shay has been invaluable to the game planning and scouting processes, offensive play calling, and helping ETSU to unprecedented success with the complete backing of his head coach.
Billy Wuczynski - Boston College
Together for 10+ years there is an obvious trust between Wu and his HC. Beyond that, Wu is in his own right a great schemer and teacher whose efforts develop strong talent producing a successful impact on all the programs he touches.
Greg Heiar - LSU
Long considered one of the games next great head coaches, Heiar is a big reason for the Tigers transformation back into prominence with his on-floor coaching and recruiting. Will Wade knows exactly what he has. Wade lets his assistant apply that experience and passion as a top assistant and a Juco hc (Chipola Juco) in every scenario. Heiar has been proven himself over and over by being a consistent winner in multiple situations each as different as the next.
Ryan Pedon - Ohio State
Pedon has the clear confidence of his head coach as the highest-paid assistant on staff. As the hometown hero, his knowledge of his surroundings plays a big part of the Buckeyes success. Holtman wisely gives his top ace all the space he needs allowing Pedon to be vocal. To Pedons’ credit, he remains focused on doing the best job he can regardless as to where.
Luke Yacklich - Michigan
Outside of Ann Arbor, whomever is next to him may find themselves in a large show. He has become the electric name illuminating the magnificent Michigan makeover on defense. Paired with the brilliant offense of Beilein, the Michigan system has become poetry, an echo asking the shadows to dance in March.
Bryan Ayers - Belmont
His years of loyalty has been an integral part developing and growing Bruin basketball since 1998. Strategic thinking has positioned them among the nation’s leaders in field goal percentage shooting and offensive efficiency. And it’s just as important for a HC and players to listen to a man who's wife serves as the Circuit Court Judge for Division IV, 19th Judicial District.
Tommy Lloyd - Gonzaga
Almost a full score (two decades) as an assistant coach and admin assistant with the Zags, the duo of Lloyd and Few has been one voice from the start. His knowledge and network overseas has grown the Gonzaga brand to one of international status and his impact on coaching and in game strategy has been just as prominent.
Jeff Meyer - Butler
Two birds that weren't really chickens created a chicken egg, and hence, we have an answer: The egg came first, and then it hatched a chicken. The fact remains that Lavall and Meyer are both trusted friends and gifted basketball coaches. Meyer had been a huge part of the success at Michigan due to his play calling. He has mastered all aspects of this business creating success at every stop including a long stint as HC through the 80’s and 90’s.
Stan Jones - Florida State
Stan Jones excels as a scout and is one of the top in-game strategists in all of college basketball. The veteran of twenty-three years, all at high major programs, has made assistant coaching a very lucrative career. The longest tenured coach in the ACC, of all coaches, is arguably the top assistant coach of any sport, any level, across the globe.