Top 25 JUCO Head Coaches

Coachstat's national panel of media, scouts, and coaches, have voted on the top JUCO head coaches in the game.  While years of experience vary from 1 to 46, panelist considered many factors, such as; winning percentage, graduation rates, success of former student-athletes at the 4-year level, lifetime achievements, current success, building/rebuilding projects, affability and more. 

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Hank Plona - Indian Hills (IA)

One of the newest and youngest head coaches in junior college, Plona is in his first year as leader of the three-time national championship program. Armed with a prolific assistant coaching career that included three national tournaments in four years and winning the national title with an undefeated record in 2011-12. This former D1 manager and grad assistant of Keno Davis is primed to continue the program’s tradition of excellence.

B.J. McGinn - Des Moines Area (IA)

A coaching career that began right out of high school at 18 McGinn has made stops as head and assistant coach at the high school, NCAA D2 and NJCAA DI levels. While enjoying the longevity most coaches only dream of, he has lead the Bears to a combined record of 191-69. His most memorable moment came with winning the ICCAC League Championship as the Region 11 Champion and making the Elite Eight.

Todd Phillips - Salt Lake (UT)

Phillips is well respected in coaching circles working his way up the ladder. Starting as an assistant at Westminster and Salt Lake before his promotion to head coach at Salk Lake. In his 5 seasons, Phillips has done a remarkable job competing in one of the most talent-rich conferences in the NJCAA. Last season, he led his team to a 25-6 record and has his team off to another great start this year. 

Todd Franklin - Vincennes (IN)

Franklin began his career by recording 329 wins over 13 seasons at Southeastern Illinois College. Franklin led teams focus on unity, confidence and taking care of business as witnessed by an overall record consisting of only 13 losses to date since 2013. He was a natural hire when the Vincennes job opened and has continued his winning ways in Indiana.  

Dan Russell - Casper (WY)

Russell is a Casper native all-state football and basketball athlete who played two years for the T-Birds as well as serving as assistant coach five years prior to the big promotion. His Casper teams are family. Known as a recruiter and skill developer upon his appointment, he quickly showed that he can manage the game with the best in his league. He has accumulated a 42-21 record and getting better every year!   

Bryan Zollinger - Seward (KS)

After nine years as head coach, Zollinger began this season with a 200-72 overall record. In 2008 he was named Kansas Basketball Coaches Association JUCO Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year for the first time. In fact, Zollinger has repeated that honor five times including four of the past five seasons. His impact at his alma mater was immediate and is undeniable. 

Craig McMillan - Santa Rosa (CA)

Once an All-American four-year starter for Lute Olsen at Arizona before embarking on a coaching career that includes assistant stops at Marquette, Tennessee and professional head coaching stops in Kuwait and Lebanon. Son of a coach, his hoops history is evident when watching his Bear Cubs compete with unselfish, team-first fundamentals which have helped fill his trophy case with coach of the year awards.

Pat Smith - Moberly (MO)

Replacing Spoonhour, Smith is now in his second stint leading Moberly. His first pack of Greyhounds won the Region 16 tournament and finished 5th nationally with an overall record of 69-32 before moving on to a 4-year opportunity. Overall, this 20 plus year community college veteran and six-time coach of the year has averaged 22 wins per season and holds a 401-261 junior college career mark.

Andy Labagh - City College of San Francisco (CA)

The Labagh led Rams have captured nine Coast Conference Championships, three Final Fours, two Elite Eight’s and three Sweet Sixteen’s. Along the way, he has compiled an overall record of 309–44. His teams have gone undefeated in conference play 4 years in a row finishing with a number 1 ranking all 4 years. Voted California JC Coach of the year four times. That is one impressive resume!

Cory Fehringer - Williston State (ND)

An up-tempo brand of basketball and placing an emphasis on both sides of the court was good enough to claim the highest win % in school history with a record of 25-5 in his inaugural season. Over the past three seasons as a Head Coach, Fehringer has accounted for 62 wins which is the most by any NJCAA head coach under the age of 30. At his pace this young coaching career will transition as quick as its offense.

Cory Symons - North Idaho (ID)

Symons had the luxury of a fantastic mentor in Jared Phay at Northern Idaho, and first-hand knowledge of the college and the job.  No one could have been more prepared to take over. Symons, has to be creative, as NIC’s resources pale in comparison to the rest of the league. Currently 20-0, he has picked up where Phay left off.

Jeremy Shulman - Eastern Florida (FL)

Winning 118 games in five years, including 79 in the last three seasons and a third consecutive FCSAA Southern Conference Championship last year, Schulman has revitalized the Eastern Florida program.  Taking over the program originally as a part-time employee, he put full-time hours in and it has paid dividends. The 3-time Southern Conference Coach of the Year has also developed multiple conference players of the year.

Chuck Moore - Richard Bland (VA)

This ambitious, driven and winning former soccer player has applied many of those traits to basketball. Restarting the program at Richard Bland in 2013, he took his breakneck-speed philosophies and quickly made Bland a household name.  Last years‘ NABC Coach of the Year led his Statesmen to the 2015 NJCAA Division II Championship, the first National Championship in college history. 

Kris Baumann - Trinity Valley (TX)

Kris Baumann is no stranger to the NJCAA. “Bucket”, as he is known in basketball circles, spent time as an assistant at Chipola, Tallahassee, and Garden City, and has been head coach at Lamar CC, Garden City, and currently Trinity Valley.  Known for his competitive spirit, and preparing his athletes for the next level, Baumann is a ”coach’s coach“ who wins at a high rate and is a favorite among 4-year recruiters. 

Kyle Smithpeters - John A. Logan (IL)

After serving as assistant to Logan coach, Mark Imhoff, he joined the Missouri State coaching staff for one season before returning to replace his mentor. Smithpeters has compiled a 65-30 record entering his fourth season. His accomplishments include Region 24 and District 16 championships, and advancing to the NJCAA National Tournament for only the second time in school history. 

Andy Ground - Saddleback (CA)

Grounded in Saddleback since his playing days in the early 80s, Andy Ground has compiled a record of 189-42 since becoming head coach in 2008. He won state titles in 2010 and 2015 (finishing runner-up in 2009) and a state final-four in 2011. His accomplishments earned him state coach-of-the-year in both 2011 and 2015 and the Orange Empire Conference male-sport coach-of-the-year for 2014-15.

Drew Kelly - Harcum (PA)

Kelly, the first and only head coach in program history, is in the midst of his 11th season leading the Bears.  His 253-62 overall record with a winning percentage of .803 gives you an idea of the fast-start to the relatively new NJCAA program.  Kelly has never won fewer than 20 games in a single season during his tenure and has been a fixture in the national rankings.

John Meeks - Wallace State (AL)

Wallace State men’s basketball has established itself as one of the top programs after winning three league titles since 2010, including two in the past four seasons under Meeks. Arguably the most successful coach in the conference, he has changed the culture of Wallace State and done so on a shoe-string budget.  How?!?! Preaching attention to detail and coaching his athletes to compete 100% of the time.  

Craig Doty - Rock Valley (IL)

Doty has turned Rock Valley into the premier JUCO program at the D3 level, winning a National Championship 2 years ago and a runner-up finish in 2014-15. But don't be fooled, he isn't scared to play NJCAA DI or DII opponents and has become a major nuisance to them. As of 1/16/2016, he is undefeated with wins against D1 powers, Indian Hills and Vincennes. 

Jay Herkelman - Coffeyville (KS)

One of the most respected and tenured coaches at ANY level of college basketball. Herkelman's teams consistently compete for Jayhawk titles and are a fixture in the national rankings. A true champion of JUCO basketball in every regard. Jay is a Hall of Famer whose name will always be considered with the great coaches of all time.

Gene Bess -Three Rivers (MO)

Gene Bess is our lifetime achievement member of the Top 25.  While he may not be out beating the bushes for recruits or demonstrating drills on the floor like he once did, who can argue with his success. Since 1971, Bess has lead Three Rivers and is college basketball’s (any level) all-time leader with over 1,200 wins.  With 2 national titles under his belt to boot, Bess will be revered for eternity.  

Steve Schmidt - Mott CC (MI)

What Schmidt has done at Mott is nothing short of remarkable. Winning an incredible 82% of his games over 23 years is unheard of, winning more than 25 games for 19 straight years is mind boggling!  Schmidt IS Mott basketball and not only is he recognized by several Hall of Fames, he has the very gym that he coaches in, named after him.

Steve Eck - Hutchinson (KS)

Simply stated, Steve Eck is a winner!  Whether it be at Wichita East HS, Redlands CC, or Hutchinson CC, Eck produces teams that play hard, compete on a national level and win titles. He knows how to evaluate and cultivate talent, and has produced successful players for the NCAA Division I level.  The list of players that have had success after leaving his programs is staggering.

Steve DeMeo - NW Florida (FL)

After years of Division I assistant coaching experience, where he was known as one of the nation’s top recruiters, DeMeo found himself in Niceville replacing Steve Forbes as head coach at Northwest Florida State College.  Replacing the ultra-successful and beloved Forbes would be no easy task. DeMeo simply rolled up his sleeves, and went to work. The fruits of his labor, 2014-15 NJCAA National Champions in only his second year on the job. Not just a recruiter, DeMeo is a ball-coach!   

Jared Phay - College of Southern Idaho (ID)

Widely known as the premier JUCO job in the country, CSI comes with pressure to win. Athletic Director, Joel Bate immediately looked  to hire who he considered “the whole package”.  Phay is a congenial family man off the court and a focused teacher of fundamentals on. He knows exactly what works for him. His talent level and game preparation are always second to none. In year one, Phay picked up 31 wins and a Conference Championship. Phay is a WINNER and considered one of college basketball’s best coaches at any level.