Dribble Handoff: Kansas, Michigan amongst faculty basketball’s finest assistant teaching staffs


One of the vital generally missed components of a profitable faculty basketball program are the assistant coaches. Usually tasked with lengthy hours on the recruiting path and within the movie room, they put in essential work with out a lot fanfare or public recognition.

In faculty soccer, energy convention offensive and defensive coordinators are well-known by their fan bases and generally rake in salaries exceeding $1 million. By comparability, faculty basketball assistants can look like 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 employees. Scouting and recruiting highschool and switch prospects has basically change into a 24/7/365 grind. Whereas the NCAA accepted the addition of two extra assistant basketball coaches in January, the brand new assistants should not permitted to have interaction in off-campus recruiting, that means a program’s prime three assistants stay their most essential.

For this week’s version of the Dribble Handoff, our writers are weighing in on which program has the very best assistant coaches with a heavy emphasis on the highest three.


I will begin the checklist with Kansas, partially as a result of no employees 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 aspect since 2004. Norm Roberts has been on the Jayhawks’ bench since 2012. Up to now 11 seasons the trio have secured 9 Large 12 titles, made two Ultimate Fours and gained the 2022 NCAA Event.

Townsend and Roberts are among the many the explanation why.

Past that, Self’s employees is stuffed 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 employees 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 helpful prime assistant within the nation than Juwan Howard’s right-hand man Phil Martelli. What different colleges have an assistant with Martelli’s resume. His physique of labor consists of 24 years of expertise as a head coach, seven NCAA tourneys and a nationwide coach of the 12 months award. He is additionally recruited/coached first-round NBA picks — and made it to the doorstep of the Ultimate 4. The truth is, 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 highway recruiting for Michigan earlier than flying again to deal with the day-to-day of this system. At 69, he is nonetheless acquired the gasoline to do the job. By way of expertise and acumen, I do not assume anybody has a greater résumé than Martelli, who has additionally been a key determine on basketball committees through the years. 

Past Martelli, there’s longtime Michigan assistant Saddi Washington has turned down a number of alternatives to educate on the mid-major stage. He’ll ultimately 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 return 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 taking part in and training within the NBA. What number of staffs have a 3rd assistant with 20 years of that form of expertise? Not many, however Michigan does. Howard Eisley (12 years taking part in within the NBA, one other 9 teaching) is among the many most revered males in faculty hoops and the NBA. He fortifies a employees that totals greater than 50 years of teaching expertise alone, not even factoring in taking part in days. From recruiting to improvement to X-and-O acumen, few staffs within the nation have as a lot as U-M. — Matt Norlander


There may be arguably no higher teaching employees prime to backside — from head coach to closing assistant — in faculty 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 Training. 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 fee, 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 function. Additionally they have a star in Quannas White, now Affiliate Head Coach, who as soon as performed below Sampson at OU. Quick-rising assistant in Ok.C. Beard has labored his means 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 employees is as comparable — and typically, higher — than another within the sport. — Kyle Boone


When Jay Wright shocked the faculty basketball world by retiring two and a half weeks after his group’s 2022 Ultimate 4 run ended, this system transitioned shortly 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 major bounce-back from final season’s 17-17 mark in 2023-24. That is due largely to the employees 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 Could 10 after 4 seasons as the pinnacle coach at La Salle. He was on employees with Neptune below 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 employees for each of Wright’s nationwide titles, and Anderson is a former Wildcats guard who has been on employees 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 employees can be infusing a wholesome dose of modernization into this system by touchdown one of many nation’s prime switch lessons for the 2023-24 season. This employees boasts all of the championship-caliber expertise, continuity and cohesion to cement its place among the many nation’s finest over the subsequent couple of seasons below Neptune’s course. — David Cobb


It is essential to notice the very best (and typically 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 completed 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 gained the ACC match in Scheyer’s first 12 months on the helm.

Duke has two former gamers on its teaching employees in Chris Carrawell and Will Avery. Carrawell joined Krzyzewski’s employees 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 faculty ranks. Having three former gamers on the employees 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 is usually a very cliché time period, however it’s clear the Duke program has a course shifting ahead and has a employees that may recruit and develop the very best expertise within the nation.  — Cameron Salerno



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