While the college basketball landscape is ever changing and is populated with people of many different backgrounds that oversee a variety of different things, a number of individuals serve as the pillars of the sport. In talking with multiple people within the space at various different levels and occupations, a collective group seemed to represent the top. After months of research and consultation, here is a list of names at the peak of their professions that win at a high level, produce top flight talent, effect movement in the college coaching carousel, and have their fingerprints all over the sport. To be considered for this list, you must’ve met at least one of these criteria very well and be current in the sport (no retirees). Without further ado, after months of consulting with ADs, Presidents, Agents, the prestigious 2020 Silver Waves Media 100 Most Influential People in College Basketball list in alphabetical order:
Courtesy of Matt York
Altman is part of an exclusive fraternity of five active coaches in NCAA Division I with 23 consecutive winning seasons. He is the 34th head coach to record 600 career wins at the Division I level and has done so with a .659 winning percentage (669-346). In 2019, he became the winningest coach in Pac-12 Tournament history, reaching 19 victories and in 2017 he led the Ducks to their first Final Four in 78 years. His success doesn’t just stop and end with Oregon though. He is also the winningest coach in Creighton men’s basketball history and third all-time in the Missouri Valley Conference. He led the Blue Jays to 13 consecutive postseason appearances, a stretch of 11 straight seasons with 20-plus wins, all while producing 10 or more league victories in each of the last 14 seasons. Those three feats were unmatched in the 103 years of the Missouri Valley Conference. Altman got his start at the junior college level where he had two third place finishes with two different schools at the NJCAA National Tournament early in his career. He has had multiple NBA players during his tenure as a head coach including Kyle Korver, Jordan Brooks, and Tyler Dorsey. Coaches like Brian Fish, Kevin McKenna, Darian Devries, and Robert McCullum, who have all worked under him, have gotten head coaching jobs at the Division I level at some point during their careers.
Courtesy of Athlete Speakers
When you combine one of the best basketball coaches with one of the best academic institutions in the world like Harvard, you’re going to have some pull. Amaker has led the way in the renaissance of the Harvard program going 208-95 (.686) since 2009-10. A coach deriving from the Krzyzewski pedigree, Amaker has proven that the Ivy League can get high level players, can produce high level players, and can win at a high level. Players like Jeremy Lin (NBA), Chris Ledlum (Top 100), Bryce Aiken (Top 100), Zena Edosomwan (Top 100) and other four stars like Seth Towns, Chris Lewis, and Noah Kirkwood have been some of the players that have served as a backbone for Harvard’s resurgence under Amaker. The Crimson have won seven league championships, appeared in four NCAA Tournaments, and were ranked in the program’s first-ever AP Poll during his 13-year tenure. He has coached a total of six NBA players, appeared in one Sweet Sixteen and has also begun to establish an impressive coaching tree. Kenny Blakeney, Will Wade, Dave Pilipovich, Tim O’toole, and Chris Collins are all past or present head coaches that have been cut from Amaker’s cloth.
Courtesy of Tennessee Athletics
Different programs have reaped the benefits of having Barnes on the sidelines during his 34-year career. He owns a 707-375 (.653) overall record during that time. The Volunteers have been taken to new heights and their future has never looked brighter after Barnes was named the 2019 Naismith Coach of the Year for guiding the Vols to a school-record-tying 31 wins and a Sweet Sixteen appearance. After a period of time where the program wasn’t at its best, Barnes has come in and restored it to national prominence with multiple national rankings over the last three seasons going 74-29 during that time. It’s something that he was able to do in his time as a head coach at Texas and Clemson too. He earned a No. 1 overall ranking during his time with the Longhorns and a program-best No. 2 overall ranking during his time at Clemson. He appeared in sixteen NCAA Tournaments, five Sweet Sixteens, three Elite Eights, and one Final Four while at Texas, one Sweet Sixteen during his four years at Clemson, and three NCAA Tournaments during his five years at Providence. Additionally, he signed Top-10 recruiting classes at all three schools. 27 of his former players have gone on to be picked in the NBA Draft and have boasted combined basketball earnings in excess of $715.3 million. Coaches like Rob Lanier, Larry Shyatt, Chris Ogden, Herb Sendek, and Rodney Terry, who have all worked under him, have gotten head coaching jobs at the Division I level at some point during their careers. Barnes is also one of three NCAA Division I head coaches on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee.
Mike Barnett and Brandon Walker have been in sports marketing with Adidas since 2003. Prominent programs like Compton Magic, Indiana Elite, Atlanta Celtics, Team Loaded, and numerous others are under their watch in the Adidas Gauntlet. The league has produced numerous NBA players over the years including Zion Williamson, James Harden, Jrue Holiday, Romeo Langford, Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Dennis Smith Jr., Cody Zeller, Yogi Ferrell, Amar’e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Derrick Favors, and Brandon Rush. The league also has an exciting future with players like Mikey Williams, Evan Mobley, Day’Ron Sharpe, Jabari Smith, Michael Foster, Harrison Ingram, Dariq Whitehead, MJ Rice, and others representing the top 15 in the respective classes.
Courtesy of Kentucky Athletics
No one can argue that the NCAA Selection committee doesn’t hold many programs' fates and many coaches’ job statuses in the palm of their hand each and every year. Mitch Barnhart, the Athletic Director at Kentucky for the last 18 years, is the man at the forefront of that responsibility. He currently serves as the chair of the selection committee for the 2020-21 season where he will oversee the process of selecting a field of 64 teams with a number of different commissioners and athletic directors from different conferences and schools. The ten committee members spend countless hours evaluating teams throughout the regular season. While each committee member is given a couple handfuls of conferences they are supposed to be familiar with, the committee chair or in this case, Barnhart, is ultimately in charge of deciphering all the information in order to come to a 68 team field. The SportsBusiness Journal named Barnhart the Athletic Director of the Year in 2019 as he has been a huge part of the brand build of UK Athletics as a whole and the Kentucky Men’s Basketball program as many know it today. $300 million has been brought in to improve facilities since 2007 including the men’s basketball locker room and the programs have achieved much success.
Bazant, a major player in the college coaching carousel, joined William Morris Endeavor in 2016 after being a partner with the Legacy Agency. Since, he was awarded the Sports Business Journal’s award for Best Talent Representation in 2019 just this past year played a large part in Rick Pitino returning to the college basketball ranks at Iona. His list of clients doesn’t stop there. Bazant also represents Steve Pikiell, Mick Cronin, Bobby Hurley, Dan Hurley, Eric Musselman, Ron Hunter, Ben Howland, Fox and others who have all recently gotten jobs as well as coaches like Mike Brey at Notre Dame. With plenty of connections in the sports world, his representation of some athletic directors, ties to school presidents, relationships with broadcast networks, as well as other associations to where major money and power flows, Bazant is able to easily influence the way college basketball looks each and every year.
Courtesy of Texas Tech Athletics
The most recent superstar that has burst onto the college basketball scene, Beard has quickly made his presence and influence felt. He has won everywhere he has been working his way up from the junior college level, to the NCAA Division II level, and now the Division I level. He will go into the 2020-21 season with a (190-74) .720 winning percentage in 8 seasons, which is good for 13th best among active NCAA Division I coaches. During his four seasons in Lubbock, he is already responsible for ending Kansas’ dominant streak of sixteen Big 12 Championships, one Elite Eight appearance, and one National Championship appearance. Additionally, Beard has set program-bests for wins in a season, national rank, NCAA tournament advancement, and conference finish. He was able to accomplish similar feats at Arkansas Little Rock and Angelo State. He led the UALR Trojans to a 30-5 season in 2015-16 that was highlighted by a first round upset of Purdue, a 15-game improvement from the year prior to his arrival, and a sixth-place tie for wins ever by a first year head coach at the NCAA Division I level. In his young career he has already had two NBA draft picks and three coaches earn jobs at jobs at the Division I level.
Courtesy of Ethan Miller
A legendary coach in his own right throughout the country, but especially on the west coast, Randy Bennett owns a 440-182 (.707) in 19 seasons as a head coach at Saint Mary’s. Not only has he completely built a basketball program, but he has helped change the outlook of the school and it’s athletic department with the national attention he has garnered throughout his time in Moraga. After going 34-85 in four seasons before his arrival and only having three 20-win seasons in the program’s 110+ year history, Bennett has been able to collect 20 wins in fourteen different seasons and has made the Gaels a fixture both nationally and in the West Coast Conference. He has guided SMC to 13 postseason appearances (7 NCAA and 6 NIT), led the Gaels to their first postseason wins, and have won the West Conference Title three times. Two of his players have gone on to play in the NBA (Patty Mills & Matthew Dellavedova) and seven have won WCC Player of the Year. Bennett’s success has been key in the growth of his coaching tree too. Eran Ganot, Kyle Smith, Lamont Smith, Rick Croy, Todd Golden, and David Patrick have all earned Division I head coaching jobs at some point during their careers.
Courtesy of Virginia Athletics
Bennett has been able to develop his own recipe for success that many players, coaches, and people within the basketball community have been drawn to for the past fifteen some years. He has turned what was a predominately .500 program into a national champion doing it his way and was able to spark life into the Washington State program during his three years in Pullman doing the same thing. Bennett’s teams have honed in on the defensive end with the pack line system and created a culture that has ultimately helped lead to a 346-129 (.728) record in 14 seasons as a head coach. In fact, his teams have ranked No. 1 in scoring defense an amazing six different seasons over the course of his career. He is one of six coaches in ACC history to win at least three outright ACC regular-season titles. His historic run at Virginia comes after the best three-year stretch in the history of the Washington State basketball program. He took a team that was picked last in the PAC 10 prior to the season and led them to a school record matching 26 wins and a second place finish in the conference. For his efforts, he was named National Coach of the Year by nine different organizations. The success propelled the team to the Cougar’s first-ever AP preseason poll ranking the following year where the WSU would again collect 26 wins en route to a Sweet 16 and their second consecutive NCAA Tournament. He has coached eight NBA Draft picks in his time at Virginia and two of his former assistants have gone on to be head coaches.
While it has been under a different name (Bloomington Red) once before, the Indiana Elite organization has been around for over 30 years and has become a pinnacle program in the hoosier state thanks to efforts of Criss Beyers, Mike Fox, and Mark Adams. From a historical standpoint, they are arguably the best program on the Adidas Gauntlet Circuit let alone the country’s grassroots landscape. In 30 years since its inception, they have accumulated some of the best talent in Indiana and the surrounding areas with the likes of Cody Zeller (Charlotte Hornets), Yogi Ferrell (Sacramento Kings), Kyle Guy (Sacramento Kings), Eric Gordon (Houston Rockets), Tyler Zeller (Denver Nuggets), Mason Plumlee (Denver Nuggets), and Dylan Windler (Cleveland Cavaliers). Many of the program’s former players and coaches have now entered the college coaching ranks as well. Walter Offuttt (Toledo), Drew Adams (Bradley), Kristof Kendrick (Bradley), Andrew Dakich (Ohio State), Alan Huss (Creighton), Travis Steele (Xavier), Bil Duany (Nevada), DJ Byrd (Mercer) and Kory Barnett (Nevada) are just some of the coaches that have paved that path for the program. Indiana Elite operates upwards of 120 teams, has 15-20 events a year, and has a fall league that many teams and players participate in.
A staple at the biggest grassroots events around the country, Biancardi and Finkelstein have both served as ESPN’s national basketball recruiting analysts for over ten years. Their duties include profiling many of the country’s best players through film breakdown, background checks, and traveling to watch players in person at different events around the country. In doing so, they develop rankings for different high school graduating classes periodically throughout the course of players’ development and talk to numerous college coaches, grassroots directors, and players to synergize the college basketball recruiting process. Their expertise stems from previously being a college basketball coaches at the NCAA Division I level. Biancardi previously served as the head coach at Wright State University and as an assistant under Rick Majerus at Saint Louis and Jim O’Brien at both Ohio State and Boston College where he was a part of Elite Eight and Final Four teams. He is apart of the Gatorade & State PY and McDonalds All American Committee. Finkelstein previously served as an assistant coach at Hartford and was the youngest Division I coach in the country at one time.
Courtesy of Mark Hames
Since his playing and coaching days under Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, Bilas has built himself into a global figure in the college basketball world during his time with ESPN as a college basketball analyst. Since joining the network in 1995, he has worked alongside some of the biggest faces in the sport to bring viewers closer to the game. With roughly 2 million Twitter followers and five Emmy nominations recognizing his work during his broadcasting career, his brand has grown tremendously during that time. Bilas’ word has often resonated throughout the sport as he has been outspoken about athlete rights, the NCAA rules, money in college sports, among other topics. His statements have often sparked discussions on various platforms and in some cases may have been part of a cause for change.
Courtesy of Syracuse Athletics
A living legend, Boeheim has never had a losing season and has piloted the Orange into the postseason in all but two of his remarkable 41 seasons on the sidelines. 32 of the 39 trips have been to the NCAA Tournament where Cuse has been a major player in making runs. The Orange have made an appearance in four Final Fours (1987, 1996, 2013, & 2016) and took home the nets in 2003. Just recently, Boeheim passed Jim Calhoun for second all-time at the NCAA Division I level in total wins. For his efforts, he has been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005, presented with the John Wooden Legends of Coaching Award, the Spirit of Jimmy V Award, the Claire Bee Award, as well as having his name forever present on the court at the Carrier Dome. The Hall of Famer is an active participant with USA Basketball coaching some of our country’s best over the years and has developed plenty of NBA talent himself including Carmelo Anthony, Jerami Grant, Michael Carter-Williams, and Dion Waiters. Mike Hopkins, Louis Orr, Tim Welsh, Louis Orr, Wayne Morgan, Ralph Willard, Tim O’Toole, and Rob Murphy have all been coaches that have earned head coaching jobs under his tutelage at some point in their careers.
If there’s news or rumors about your college basketball team you can be sure that it may have come from Borzello. For nearly fifteen years, Borzello has had his fingerprints on numerous info regarding college basketball for a number of different platforms. He has worked with Rivals, East Coast Scout, NBE Basketball Report, Fox Sports, D1 Hoops Report, Busting the Bracket, CBS Sports, and now ESPN. In that time he has reported on such things as players transferring, college coaches being hired, team analysis, etc. Some of his recent articles have included ranking college basketball’s transfers, ranking the best recruiting classes of all-time, the best college coaches under 40, among others. With nearly 100,000 followers on Twitter and millions viewing his articles every day on ESPN, Borzello has much influence in the way people think and talk about college basketball.
If a college coach is wanting to know who to check out or do some digging on as far as the recruiting trail is concerned, they just might go to Eric Bossi or Corey Evans. Bossi got his start in 2003 when he founded a scouting service called EBoss Hoops that informed college coaches about different recruitable athletes at the high school level. In his seven years talking with players, traveling to different gyms, and reporting on kids on social media, he built up a profile that Yahoo Sports/Rivals took notice of. Since joining the network, he has developed rankings of high school players in different graduating classes that ultimately play a part in the way coaches identify players. Bossi also serves on the selection committee of the McDonald’s All-American game. On the other hand, Evans came up through college programs like Duquesne and Old Dominion in administrative roles. He created the Roundball Rundown Report in 2012 and now counts over 100 division one programs as clients. He has also worked for HoopSeen and NY2LA and runs a consulting service for a handful of NBA franchises. They have been working at Rivals together since 2017.
Boyages has been working under recently retired college sports titan Jim Delaney and the Big Ten Conference for the past ten years. His duties with the conference include men’s basketball operations, game management, and officiating while serving as a liaison to head coaches, event managers, game ops staff & NCAA committees. He has worked to integrate Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers, aided in activating many East Coast initiatives & developed strategies to dramatically improve strength of schedule, leading to unparalleled network television ratings & NCAA tournament success. This year, the Big Ten experienced arguably one of their most historic years. Consistently ranked the No. 1-rated conference in America, bracketologists predicted 10 NCAA bids for the Big Ten, who won the Gavitt Games and the Big Ten-ACC Challenge in the same year for the 1st time and consistently placed 12 teams in the top 55 NET rankings (most of any conference). As one of the best conferences in America with a decorated NCAA Tournament history, the Big Ten has one of the most robust network packages with 4 broadcast partners & 7 networks. Boyages was a long time college basketball coach before joining the conference and also oversees Collegiate Officiating Consortium, a multi-regional LLC that identifies, trains, develops & assesses performance of 240+ MBK referees. Collegiate Officiating Consortium, a multi-regional LLC that identifies, trains, develops & assesses performance of 240+ MBK referees. Kevin Warren comes to the league via the Minnesota Vikings where he served as the COO. He will look to continue the same trend that Boyages and Delaney put together.
Courtesy of Montverde Athletics
One of just four high school coaches on this list, Kevin Boyle has had quite the decorated career. For over two decades, his teams have been ranked in the nation’s top 25 in various national polls such as MaxPreps.com, ESPN Rise, and USA Today in each season he has been at the helm. In just over four seasons, Boyle has led Montverde to a 104-7 (.937) record, while coaching the team to two undefeated seasons and back-to-back national championships. In just his first season at Montverde Academy, Boyle's school was ranked 12th nationally by ESPN and reached the finals of the ESPN National Boy's High School Championship. Prior to Montverde, Boyle served at St. Patrick in New Jersey. Boyle led St. Pats to four TOC Championships, eight Parochial North Championships, and 15 Union County Championships. St. Patrick was ranked No.1, six times during his tenure by The Newark Star Ledger. Many players have wanted to be a part of Boyle’s success and influence. Boyle has helped develop more than 50 NCAA Division-I scholarship athletes and more than 15 professional players including Kyrie Irving (2011 NBA #1 pick), Michael Kidd Gilchrest (2012 NBA #2 pick), Joel Embiid (2014 NBA #3 pick), D’Angelo Russell (2015 NBA #2 pick), Ben Simmons (2016 NBA #1 pick), and RJ Barrett (2019 NBA #3 pick). Boyle is the only high school coach to produce the #1 and #2 NBA draft picks in consecutive years, which he has amazingly done twice. He has coached for USA Basketball, at the Nike Hoop Summit, the Jordan Brand Classic, and has earned numerous awards over his career.
Working together for the past six seasons, Brazeau and Swofford have continued to make the ACC one of the premier conferences in America by overseeing the postseason tournament, arranging television and regular-season scheduling, and working closely with coaches, administrators, and school personnel to bring the best version of the ACC possible. The six years have been highlighted by the launch of the ACC Network in partnership with ESPN, which allowed viewers to see all 150 ACC regular-season games this past season. The coverage comes to no surprise as the ACC currently houses four of the top eight and six of the top 30 winningest programs in NCAA Division I basketball history. Current ACC member schools have combined for 62 Final Four appearances and a national-best 639 NCAA Tournament wins. League teams have combined to win an NCAA-record 74 NCAA Tournament games over the past five seasons. Lastly, the current 15 members of the conference have captured eight of the last 19 NCAA Championships and 17 overall.
Courtesy of Mykal McEldowney
The winningest coach in program history at one of the most renowned academic institutions in the world, Mike Brey has built up a level of respect that can’t be ignored. He is 417-221 (.654) in 19 seasons as a head coach at Notre Dame with an ACC Championship, 2 Elite Eights, 3 Sweet Sixteens, and 14 NCAA Tournament appearances. The highlights are in large part due to the culture he has established and the talent he has been able to attract to play under the Golden Dome in South Bend, Indiana. He has developed six NBA Draft picks, six All-Americans, three conference Players of the Year, and 21 all-conference selections during his time with the Irish. He is 11th active Division I coach to earn 400 or more victories at his current institution and he is 23rd on the active career wins list with 516 overall. Additionally, Brey ranked fourth in the Big East in career conference wins upon Notre Dame’s departure from the conference in 2013. He has won numerous awards throughout his career and served as the president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches just this past year. Brey got his coaching start for two Naismith Hall of Fame coaches in Morgan Wooten and Mike Krzyzewski and one of his former assistants, Martin Ingelsby, is the current head coach at the University of Delaware, a program that Brey got his head coaching start at.
Buntz has made his mark on a number of different areas of basketball since joining the company in 2014. He has quickly moved his way up the ladder and now oversees Under Armour’s Undeniable High School Programs, their roster of professional players (NBA, NBA G League, and overseas), and Under Armour’s Jr. NBA partnership. Under Armour’s high school basketball initiative of scouting, signing, and servicing high school programs makes up much of Buntz’s main focus. Schools like IMG, Brewster Academy, Northfield Mount Hermon, St. Frances, Bishop McNamara make up the bulk of elite teams that Under Armour has below their banner. While much of his focus is making sure relationships with those schools and some others around the country stay strong, he also dabbles with college programs like Auburn, Maryland, Davidson, and UCLA in the same capacity. Buntz got his start as a head manager for Pat Chambers at Penn State and he is the son-in-law of Ed Dechellis, the head coach at Navy.
Courtesy of Ezra Shaw
Not many can easily have the effect on multiple college programs like Calipari has been able to do in his career. Widely considered a marketing genius by many different college basketball experts, Calipari’s creative techniques and smooth talking ways have always made it easy for him to keep talent in his back pocket year after year. His incorporation of Kentucky Media Day, the way he has transformed Big Blue Madness, and his swaying presence in the media via different platforms has helped lure an amazing 49 NBA Draft picks to his teams during his 28-year head coaching career. He has set records for most players drafted in the first round, most players selected in a draft, longest streak with at least one top-10 pick, and most No. 1 overall picks. Another way to look at Calipari’s influence is that an astounding 38 of the 60 who finished their college careers at Kentucky under Calipari were selected in the NBA Draft, a staggering 63.3% success rate. The influx of talent available at his disposal each year has led to six Final Fours, one National Championship, and a 733-215 (.773) overall record. He is one of only two coaches (Rick Pitino) to lead three different schools to a Final Four (UMass-1996; Memphis-2008; Kentucky-2011, 2012, 2014, 2015). The Naismith HOF has seen Orlando Antigua, Tony Barbee, Derek Kellogg, Ed Schilling, John Robic, Bruiser Flint, Josh Pastner, and Chuck Martin as some of the coaches that continue to grow his coaching tree.
Courtesy of Long Island Basketball
A pillar in grassroots basketball since 1988, Charles has had his hands on different areas within the space the last 32 years. After starting his career as the director of a powerhouse in the New York Panthers that featured NBA players like Lamar Odom, Rafer Alston, Khalid El-Amin, Speedy Claxton, Wally Szerzbiak, Charlie Villanueva, Danny Green, and Lance Thomas, Charles ventured out to help run events like the ABCD Camp where he worked alongside legendary grassroots icons like Sonny Vaccaro. His experiences and early on success led him to invaluable relationships throughout the sport at all levels as his time as a prominent AAU director morphed into his rise as an event operator. While he still has a few other events in places like Kentucky and New York, Charles’ bread and butter remains his ever popular Big Time Las Vegas event that is one of the most historically well attended events in grassroots basketball. Players like Jabari Parker, Kyle Anderson, Emmanuel Mudiay, Maurice Harkless, Stanley Johnson, Tyler Dorsey, and Thon Maker make up a list of players that have attended the event. The New York native has mentored roughly 250 NCAA Division I players during his career.
Courtesy of Ventura Partners
A disciple of the Korn Ferry search firm, Chatlos has been with Ventura Partners since 2016. While his experience remains broad throughout the sports scope, Chatlos’ speciality revolves around the diverse roles in the ever-changing Intercollegiate Athletics landscape. He has been at the forefront of recent coaching hires like: Steve Forbes at Wake Forest, Kermit Davis at Ole Miss, Dennis Gates at Cleveland State, Jay Young to Fairfield, and Mike Balado to Arkansas State. He has completed searches for the NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, NCAA, multiple national governing bodies, brands, and prestigious universities. He has held senior leadership positions with the PGA TOUR, CAREY International and various sports marketing agencies. He brings more than 15 years of experience in sports marketing and event management.
Courtesy of Arbiter Sports
A member of the NCAA since 2015, Collins brings more than 25 years of expertise to the position. He previously served as the coordinator of officials for the Mid-American Conference and Summit League, as a consultant for the Big Ten Conference men’s basketball officiating program, and as the commissioner of the NAIA’s Crossroads League. He served as a NCAA Division I official during many of the big matchups throughout college basketball’s recent history including two Final Fours, one regional final, and five regional semifinal games. Before retiring for medical reasons, Collins officiated games in the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Horizon, Missouri Valley, Mid-American, and Summit Leagues. In the five years since, Collins has reinvented a system that organizes officials, almost 900 of them, that was long overdue for a change and has instructed officials about the games tweaked rules that were seen as needed by many different coaches and administrators. More specifically, Collins has synergized the network of college officials by making them less independent contractors like they had previously been so that they have more direct people that they are reporting to and that there’s more of a schedule in place for a more even work load. Collins is also in charge of evaluating who gets to officiate NCAA Tournament games. After he receives 350 nominations from numerous people in the sport, he rates them on film in six different categories, ranging from their fitness to their communication skills with players and coaches to call accuracy and game management. That number is whittled down to just 9 officials and 1 alternate for the Final Four.
You’d have a harder time figuring out who isn’t using Comerford’s FastModel software than you would trying to figure who is. In nearly 15 years of business Comerford has sold his product to nearly every college program and NBA team known to man. FastModel Sports helps coaches at all levels of basketball be organized and efficient with workflows and demands they navigate year round. The FastModel Platform consists of FastScout (Game Prep and Player Scouting), FastRecruit (Recruiting Logistics), and FastAccess (Communication). After schools like Oregon, Syracuse, Duke and the Boston Celtics purchased his product in the company’s first year of existence. Comerford has existing contracts with 30/30 NBA franchises, 12/12 WNBA franchises, 28/28 G-League franchises, 660/700 men’s and women’s NCAA Division I basketball programs, and over 15,000 high school teams. They also sell their products in 70 countries. The universal use of the platform has made Comerford a widely recognized name. You can often catch him court-side at all levels of basketball’s biggest games, eating lunch or dinner with some of the game's largest figures, or even doing interviews on SportsCenter. What started as a software company has sky rocketed Comerford to gain access to the most exclusive inner circles of basketball. He plays the role of confidant to many of the most powerful and influential people within the sport.
With nearly 40 years of experience and deep connections within the sport between the three at various levels of basketball, the trio make a perfect match in ultimately what goes into the UA Association experience and brand. Pat Coombs, the president of High Major Sports, got his start in 2003 for Reebok grassroots. Ever since, Coombs has been establishing himself within the industry working alongside prominent figures like Sonny Vaccaro at different events like the ABCD Camp, the Reebok Big Time Tournament, and the McDonald’s All-American Game. Pennie and DeMong have added to that experience with Pennie’s background as a prep school coach at Northfield Mount Hermon and DeMong’s history as a NCAA Division I and II coach. The circuit has had recent success with 7 McDonald’s All-American in 2019 and have the #1 ranked player in 2021 in Chet Holmgren. The three also run the Stephen Curry SC30 Camp, The Workout at IMG, and the UA Rise Circuit.
Courtesy of Georgia Athletics
Known as one of the best coaches for development of players, Crean has had more than his fair share of players that have had eye opening progress from point A to point B. The best evidence perhaps lies within two of Crean’s posterboys, Dwyane Wade and Victor Oladipo, that went from nearly unranked players who didn’t have much of a recruitment to NBA superstars. His success has attracted others like Yogi Ferrell (Sacramento Kings), Cody Zeller (Charlotte Hornets), Noah Vonleh (Denver Nuggets), Thomas Bryant (Utah Jazz), OG Anunoby (Toronto Raptors), Wesley Matthews (Milwaukee Bucks), and just recently Anthony Edwards (Consensus Top-5 projected pick). The success has helped propel Crean to prestigious heights in his coaching career. He led Marquette to a Final Four in 2003, has appeared in four Sweet Sixteens, and gave Indiana two Big Ten Championships after inheriting the program at arguably it’s lowest point in its rich history due in large part to NCAA infractions that had taken place by the previous staff. His success has helped some of his assistants get hired. Steve McClain, Amir Abdur-Rahim, Bennie Seltzer, Tim Buckley, and Brian Barone have all been head coaches at one point during their careers after serving under Crean. Crean will look to continue to spark a Georgia program like he did in his time at Indiana and Marquette. He got his start learning under Jud Heathcote at Michigan State with Tom Izzo while Jim & John Harbaugh remain his brothers-in-law.
Courtesy of UCLA Athletics
Cronin has wasted no time instilling the same gritty culture he had with his teams at Cincinnati into the Bruins. He exceeded expectations in his first season in Westwood by taking a team that was picked to finish towards the bottom of the PAC 12 to the second overall spot in the conference by winning 11 of the team’s final 14 games. The feat earned him conference Coach of the Year Award for the third time in his career and puts him at a 384-183 (.677) overall record in 17 seasons. Prior to UCLA, Cronin led his Bearcat teams to 11 NCAA Tournament berths and guided them to the NCAA Tournament in each of his final nine seasons as their head coach (2011-2019). In doing so, he joined an elite group of six coaches that led their programs to the NCAA Tournament during those nine seasons. His teams at Cincinnati ranked as one of just two in the nation (along with Virginia) to be listed among the nation’s top 25 in scoring defense through his final seven seasons (2013-2019). With the impressive success he has had over the years while learning under legends like Bob Huggins and Rick Pitino plus his recent arrival to college basketball’s most storied programs, we believe Cronin is just getting his feet wet. He enters the 2020-21 season as the nation’s leader in NCAA Division I coaching victories (384) among active coaches under the age of 50.
Daniels is quickly rising in the basketball recruiting and college insider world. As a part of one of the three largest recruiting sites, Daniels’ words are some of the most respected in the college basketball world. With nearly 15 years of experience working for Scout and 247 Sports, Daniels has built a loyal network of high school, AAU, college coaches, and NBA Scouts that lean on him for information about the next brightest stars of the sport. He is the only media member on the USA Basketball selection committee and is the youngest scout to ever receive a vote for the McDonald’s All-American game. He also serves at Fox Sports where he has his own podcast that has had guests like Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, and Rick Pitino. He has built up a reputation as a preeminent news breaker in basketball recruiting and college basketball. His stories include: Jeff Capel’s hiring at Pittsburgh, Refuting ESPN’s Sean Miller wiretap report, Jaylen Brown’s commitment to Cal, and Mitchell Robinson’s decision to skip college.
If you’re looking for an early replica of what the future NBA will look like you just might get a glimpse at the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League. Debose and James have done a spectacular job putting on the events, making them look professional, and drawing some of the sport’s best college coaches and media outlets to give some of the nation's best talent a platform to shine. In fact, 86 Nike EYBL alumni were rostered on the 16 different Sweet Sixteen teams in 2019. The stat is a testament to just how good the platform Debose & James put on and how plentiful the talent is. High level talent like Ben Simmons, D’Angelo Russell, Jayson Tatum, Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Davis, RJ Barrett, Jabari Parker, Trae Young, Aaron Gordon, Marvin Bagley, DeAndre Ayton, Jaren Jackson make up the list of 12 different players that have been selected in the top 5 of the NBA Draft in the past six years. Both NBA and NCAA Division I level is littered with players that Debose and James have had their fingers on.
When you combine the unparalleled leadership of a decorated army general and the basketball expertise of someone like Don Showalter, you can bank on a well oiled basketball machine in USA Basketball. The two of them tag team to pick the most worthy players around the country to represent our country while also thinking of ways to grow the game. What that has ended up looking like for USA Basketball has been players like Jaren Jackson (Memphis Grizzlies), Collin Sexton (Cleveland Cavaliers), Kevin Knox (New York Knicks), Wendell Carter (Chicago Bulls), Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics), Harry Giles (Sacramento Kings), Kendrick Nunn (Miami Heat), Jabari Parker (Sacramento Kings), and Justise Winslow (Miami Heat) suiting up for the red, white, and blue as U17 and U16 players. Showalter has also coached the team and has done so with a perfect record. His basketball stems from a long high school coaching career, McDonald’s All-American game involvement, and working camps like the LeBron James Skills Academy.
Courtesy of TCU Athletics
Universally respected by his peers, Dixon was recently elected as the President of the NABC. A coaching veteran of 22 seasons, Dixon has had stops at both Pittsburgh and TCU compiling an impressive 404-166 (.709) overall record. His stretches with both programs are considered the best in program history. At Pittsburgh, the Panthers won three Big East regular season titles, travelled to 11 NCAA Tournaments, 3 Sweet Sixteens, and one Elite Eight in Dixon’s 13 seasons in control. Only two coaches (Mark Few and Roy Williams) in NCAA history took their school to the NCAA Tournament more times in their first 13 seasons as a head coach than Dixon and his .658 mark in league play ranks as the best all-time in the Big East Conference. TCU has also reaped the benefits of Dixon’s services. After compiling eight Big 12 wins in their first four seasons in the league combined, the Frogs won six games during Dixon’s first season in 2016-17, experienced a 12-game improvement from the previous year, and won the NIT. The 24 wins and 12-game improvement were both good for the second-most in school history. The Horned Frogs have followed the historic season up with two more 20-win seasons and a NCAA Tournament appearance for the first time in over 20 years. Dixon has coached nine NBA players while Orlando Antigua, Tom Herrion, & Scott Cross make up his coaching tree for being head coaches at some point during their career after working under Dixon.
Tony has worked at Nike, Inc in Beaverton, OR for the past 25 years as the Nationa lManager of High School Basketball overseeing all the sponsorships and relationships of the country’s top high school basketball programs and tournaments. Prior to joining Nike, he was a head basketball coach for 11 years at high schools in California and Oregon. As a coach, Tony left Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward, California as the winningest boys’ basketball coach in the school’s history and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2015. Tony has been a featured speaker at basketball camps in the U.S. as well as camps in Spain, Italy, Belgium, Japan and Mozambique. In addition to his day job, in 2003 he founded Lay-Ups, a non-competitive, introductory basketball league for K-2nd graders. For the past 17 years, Lay-Ups has provided an opportunity for over 15,000 kids to learn the game while exercising and having fun.
Evans has risen through the ranks at Under Armour since 2004. He has transitioned from an account/regional manager on the commercial sales division side to overseeing the basketball sports marketing. Today, the former Maryland football star oversees pro athletes, pro leagues, team partnerships, and all of the grassroot efforts for the Baltimore based company. With his focus on grassroots, he is responsible for managing the UA Association and the UA Elite Camps like The Workout at IMG and SC30 Select Camp run by Stephen Curry. He has built up a huge profile for himself in the basketball space with the way he is able not only to affect the grassroots space, but also the different levels that student-athletes transition to after grassroots.
One of the rising stars in the broadcasting industry, Farnham has risen quickly in the ranks since 2003. He has made stops at Fox Sports and CBS Sports during that time. He worked his way up to high school analyst after doing athlete profiles and then served as one of their premier college basketball analysts. During his 10-year broadcast career at Fox Sports West, Farnham would win two Los Angeles based broadcast emmys, covering the Lakers, Clippers, Angels and Dodgers. He has appeared on the radio and on television throughout his career for different platforms, has covered seven different sports, and a dozen different sports shows throughout his career. Farnham graduated from UCLA where he lettered for four seasons on the Bruins team and got into broadcasting while he was still playing for the Bruins.
Courtesy of Harry How
What Few has been able to do at Gonzaga over the last 20 seasons has been nothing short of amazing. The winningest active coach by percentage at .823 (568-122) and third fastest ever to 500 wins, Few has been able to turn what many believe was a mid-major program into one of the most elite machines in the country. The Zags have won or shared 18 regular season league titles in his 20 seasons (all but the 1999-2000 and 2011-12 season) and taken home the conference tournament championship 15 times. Their streak of 11 straight West Coast Conference regular-season titles from 2000-11 currently ranks as the third longest streak of all-time in the NCAA Division I ranks. The Zags have completed one run to the national championship game, two to the Elite Eight, and six to the Sweet Sixteen while Few has been in the driver's seat in Spokane. His development of overseas players has been a big pay off for the program as well as the attraction of some of the top domestic talent. Domantas Sabonis, Kelly Olynyk, Zach Collins, Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke are all current NBA Players. He also helped recruit and develop Dan Dickau, Richie Frahm, Adam Morrison, Jeremy Pargo, Elias Harris, Austin Daye, Rob Sacre and Ronny Turiaf, all NBA players. Ray Giacoletti, Bill Grier, Leon Rice make up the branches of his coaching tree as all three of them have served under Few and have been a head coach at some point in their careers.
Courtesy of Doug Pensinger
If your school is looking for a new head coach, Eddie Fogler just might be involved with the decision making process. For the past fourteen years, schools and their administrators have turned to Fogler and the consulting firm that he founded to identify the best possible fit for the particular school or situation. With his expertise, Fogler has been leaned on for the following hires: Eric Musselman at Arkansas, Niko Medved at Colorado State, Chris Beard at Arkansas Little Rock & Texas Tech, Frank Martin at Kansas State & South Carolina, Pat Chambers at Penn State, Tom Crean at Indiana, Chris Holtmann at Ohio State. A former NCAA Division I coach in his own right at Wichita State, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina, Fogler uses his expertise to identify what does or doesn’t make a coach a good fit at the different programs he does coaching searches for. Fogler utilizes accurate recruitment information and statistics, a powerful list of contacts and resources, customized consultation, valuable advice, and unique perspective to come to the best possible choice.
There is not one person more involved in the overall organization and structure of college basketball than Dan Gavitt and Mark Emmert are today. Together they oversee NCAA March Madness that is viewed by roughly 100 million people each year, broadcast deals with different networks like Turner and CBS Sports that are worth upwards of $20 billion, event scheduling at the different major facilities around the country, and being an ear for college coaches on the changes they’d like to see in today’s game. Gavitt is the point person for all of the NCAA’s committees, administrators, officials, and coaches as it pertains to basketball as well as a line of communication for the Naismith Hall of Fame, FIBA, and USA Basketball. Prior to his time with the NCAA, Gavitt served as the associate commissioner for basketball for the Big East Conference. The stop provided the conference with a bit of lineage as Dan’s father, Dave Gavitt, helped create the conference in 1979 as well as serving as a head coach at Dartmouth, head coach at Providence, and a president of USA Basketball forming the Olympic Dream Team. The younger Gavitt has also served as an athletic director at Bryant and as an assistant coach for Rick Barnes at Providence.
A pioneer in the grassroots movement, Geaslen has controlled an element of the grassroots space in some capacity at different points of his career. Three Step Sports was founded in 2016 and already has acquired some of the nation's largest basketball event operators including West Coast Elite Basketball, Zero Gravity, USA Youth Hoops, Big Foot, Prime Time, as well as some of the nation’s most respected teams including Rivals, Indiana Elite, New York Lightning, and Swarm Basketball. His initiative has led to a premier sport experience for 400+ different basketball events in 37 different states annually, 700,000 different players, and 1,100 different club teams in addition to providing content for media companies like ESPN, USA Today, and Skill Show. The movement has stemmed from Geaslen’s background as the VP of High School Sports and Recruiting for ESPN among other companies where he was able to build vast relationships throughout sports.
Described as one of the most detailed scouts by a college coach, Gershon has built up a reputation as a tireless worker within the college basketball recruiting space since 2002 when he got his start with Rivals. Gershon’s growing network that touched all areas of basketball along with his ambition earned him an opportunity with Scout.com in 2011 where he began scouting the west coast. He was promoted to a national scout in 2015 and expanded his scouting expertise internationally in 2016. Since, he has scouted prospects in 12 different countries. He was hired by 247 Sports in 2017 and is credited for numerous players getting scholarships throughout the course of his career. Gershon was the first to recognize KZ Okpala in the top 100 and the only service to recognize him as a five star prospect, the only person to rank Zach LaVine as a five star prospect, the only person to rank Matisse Thybulle in the top 100, the first to recognize Alex Caruso as a high major prospect when his only offer was from Sam Houston State, and the only person to rank DeJounte Murray as a top 40 prospect. His detail combined with his tireless work ethic and eye for talent make him one of the better scouts in America.
Courtesy of Joe Faraoni
There is nowhere the media veteran hasn’t been as he comes to Stadium after stops at ESPN, CBS Sports, and Fox Sports. With over two-decades worth of experience at the NBA, college and high school levels, Goodman’s connections run wide throughout the sport. He has constantly pushed out the hottest rumors and takes on the sport during his career and has been in control of a good portion of the media that has been seen by fans and followers of the college basketball game. From transfer rankings to coaching changes, Goodman spends his days compiling the most attractive info to viewers across the country by constantly being on the phone and tapping into the network he has built within the sport at all levels. Goodman currently has nearly 250,000 followers on Twitter while his college basketball podcast currently sits as the 44th ranked basketball podcast and the 3rd ranked college basketball one on Apple.
Serving as one of the familiar faces of college basketball with ESPN since 2012, Greenberg has built up his stock even more over the years as far as his influence is concerned on the game of basketball. He is a regular on SportsCenter and ESPN Radio while he also serves as one of the lead analysts for ESPN’s College GameDay show that covers different top matchups throughout the college basketball season and on a podcast called Courtside with Dan Dakich. Of the main analysts on, he is one of four former head coaches that work for ESPN. The platform has made his expertise and voice resonate throughout the sport. His 22 seasons as a head coach included stops at Long Beach State, South Florida, and Virginia Tech with 11 postseason appearances. He is second all-time in total wins at Virginia Tech and was named ACC Coach of the Year three times. Greenberg also coached in a Final Four as an assistant at Virginia in 1984.
Courtesy of Florida State Athletics
Hamilton has been as consistent as they come in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He is the winningest coach in Florida State history, currently sits as the fifth winningest coach in conference history, and just led the Seminole program to their first-ever ACC Regular Season Championship in school history. In what is considered arguably the best conference in America, Hamilton’s seminoles are currently the fourth winningest program amongst all conference participants since the 2005-06 season. The success the program has had under Hamilton coupled with his experience in the NBA as a head coach has drawn talent to Tallahassee in a large way. With 14 NBA Draft selections under Hamilton since 2004, the Seminoles are fourth in the ACC for the most draft picks since Hamilton was named the Seminoles’ Head Coach in 2002. Florida State has had at least one player selected in the NBA Draft in 11 of the last 15 seasons. He has secured two top ten recruiting classes since he was hired at Florida State. Hamilton’s legacy extends across the nation in the coaching ranks too. 8 of his former assistant coaches have moved on to become head coaches at the Division I level. Included on the list are Dennis Gates (Cleveland State), Corey Williams (Stetson), Tim Carter (South Carolina State), Andy Enfield (Southern California), Dwight Freeman (Norfolk State), Dickey Nutt (Southeast Missouri), John Phillips (Tulsa) and Bill Self (Kansas).
AAU basketball as it looks today can be traced back to Handon in a lot of ways. Handon has had his hands in the space since 1994 when he served as the general manager in what many experts argue as one of the best AAU programs of all time in DC Assault. Handon held the position for nine years while players like Michael Beasley (NBA), Quinn Cook (Los Angeles Lakers), Keith Bogans (New York Knicks), DerMarr Johnson (NBA), Nolan Smith (NBA), and others like Keith Stevens (also on this list), a coach for the program, helped his teams win prominent tournaments like the FAB 48, Under Armour Summer Championship, and the Adidas Big Time as well as placing as a finalist in the Peach Jam. Since, Handon has been blazing a trail with his new program, DC Premier, which has consistently been amongst the top in the UA Association. First team all-Big East selections like Naji Marshall (Xavier), and Saddiq Bey (Villanova) have helped the program win even more prominent tournaments like the FAB 48 and the UA Association.
Spiece Indy Heat checks off many boxes when you’re looking at an AAU program. Although the main eight court facility that has housed numerous high profile tournaments over the year is based in Fort Wayne, IN, Hensley and Balf have reach throughout the state as they have coached many hoosier greats including Greg Oden, Mike Conley (Utah Jazz), Josh McRoberts, Trey Lyles (San Antonio Spurs), Jeff Teauge (Atlanta Hawks), Jaren Jackson (Memphis Grizzlies), Caleb Swanigan (Portland Trail Blazers), and Marquis Teague. In fact, Spiece’s team in 2004 that consisted of Oden, Conley, McRoberts, Daquon Cook, and Eric Gordon is considered one of the greatest AAU teams ever assembled by many different recruiting experts as all were highly ranked and went on to play in the NBA. The Spiece family extends past players though as Tommy Strine (Lamar), Travis Steele (Xavier), Kris Arkenberg (New Orleans), PJ Thompson (Purdue) and Hensley’s brother JR (NBA Agent) have also evolved into positions outside of the program.
Courtesy of Mississippi State Athletics
A decorated veteran of the game, Howland is one of just three head coaches that has accomplished three consecutive 30-win seasons at one point during his career. That time for Howland came while he was at the helm of the UCLA Bruins in Westwood. Howland and the Bruins were dominant, taking the storied program to three straight NCAA Final Fours that included one runner-up finish. It was and remains UCLA’s greatest run since the John Wooden days. The run and Howland’s overall record of 499-272 (.647) has been fueled by the influx of talent that Howland has had at his disposal. Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and Jrue Holiday spearhead a list of 23 NBA players who have combined for 13 nods to the NBA All-Star Game. Before his time in Westwood, Howland was a maestro at turning programs around. Northern Arizona & Pittsburgh both collected two regular season conference championships under Howland’s lead before making the leap to Westwood. Jamie Dixon and Ernie Zeigler have been two former pupils that have earned head coaching jobs at some point during their careers.
Courtesy of NBC Sports
Currently sitting at sixth place in all-time career wins on the mountain top of legendary Division I head coaches, Huggins will enter the 2020-21 seasons with a 881-372 (.703) overall record in 38 total seasons as a head coach. He has directed his alma mater to 291 of those wins, the 2010 Final Four and Big East Championship, five Sweet Sixteens, and eleven postseason appearances in his 13 seasons in Morgantown. In that time, his teams have been coined for their gritty defensive schemes that have been a nightmare to play against and regularly rank towards the top of college basketball. This identity was carried over from his Cincinnati Bearcat teams that also enjoyed their own success in the month of March. While luring some of the best recruits in program history (three No. 1-rated junior college players and five of the program’s ten McDonald’s All-Americans), he piloted his Cincinnati teams to three Elite Eights and the Final Four in 1992 while also earning 10 conference regular season titles and eight league tournament titles. Huggins has coached 18 NBA draft selections as well as 13 All-Americans. Mick Cronin, Jerrod Calhoun, Andy Kennedy, Frank Martin, and Matt Figger are all pretty successful branches that have sprouted from Huggins’ coaching tree.
Labelled by many as “the new king of Memphis basketball,” Hurd has emerged from Penny Hardaway’s shadows since the former Memphis-based AAU director made the jump to coach at the local university. Hurd, if he hadn’t already, has taken over. His teams have grown stronger and stronger over the years and have been one of the most dominant forces on the UA Association circuit, a league in which they won in 2019. Despite Penny’s control over much of the area’s top players, Hurd was still able to lure in OG Anunoby (Toronto Raptors), Jeremiah Martin (Brooklyn Nets), and Chris Chiozza (Brooklyn Nets). Now, Hardaway is turning to Hurd for players as Memphis currently has two players on their roster that he has signed from Team Thad in Tyler Harris and Damion Baugh. Despite the next step of the program being all relatively new, Faragi Phillips (Vanderbilt) makes up the first part in what will be sure to be a large coaching tree.
Courtesy of Michigan State Athletics
You can never count the Spartans out under Tom Izzo. The Naismith Hall of Famer has a winning clip of .706 in the month of March, which ranks fourth among all active coaches with at least ten tournament games coached. His 52 NCAA Tournament wins are the most ever for a Big Ten coach, and rank sixth all-time. The winningest coach in Michigan State history has led his Spartans to seven Final Four appearances between 1999 and 2015, making the program just one of four to ever accomplish such a feat in a 17-year span. His seven Final Four appearances rank fifth all-time, third among active coaches and first all-time among Big Ten coaches. He has always been atop the Big Ten with his teams too. His .696 winning percentage in Big Ten games ranks third all-time among league coaches with at least 10 years of service. With 288 conference victories, Izzo ranks second all-time, trailing just Indiana’s Bob Knight (353 wins), while also ranking second for most wins at a Big Ten institution (606), trailing just Knight (662). The legendary success has kept multiple eyes of decision makers on the program. Former assistants Jim Boylen, Tom Crean, Tim Buckley, Darrin Horn, Tod Kowalczyk, Buzz Williams, Brian Gregory, Stan Heath, Stan Joplin, Doug Wojcik, Mark Montgomery have all been picked by athletic directors at some point during their career to be a head coach and make up his coaching tree. Additionally, 20 Michigan State players like Jaren Jackson, Miles Bridges, Gary Harris, and Zach Randolph have all been selected by NBA general managers.
While their partnership is still relatively new with the arrival of Jeff Jackson just two years ago from the Big South Conference, Jackson & Bowlsby have been hard at work to synchronize Bowlsby’s knowledge and experience as an athletic director with Jackson time as a basketball coach in an effort brainstorm ways to elevate the conference. They oversight comes with 5 coaches that have led their teams to the Final Fours, a finish in the top RPI slot the last three consecutive years, and a total of 21 teams that have been selected for the NCAA Tournament over the past three seasons (ranked #1 among all conferences). In fact, it’s only the second time in NCAA history has accomplished such a feat. Lastly, the conference’s presence on NBA Draft night is also something to note as a total of 34 NBA lottery picks have come from the Big 12 since 2000. Perhaps Jackson and Bowlsby’s biggest accomplishment though might be the introduction of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
Jackson and Ackerman have been the team that has been left with the task of enhancing Big East Basketball the past six years. Both of them have vast experience within the sport that spans from being a player to a NBA general manager or even a WNBA commissioner. Jackson has left fingerprints on many different roles including as an assistant coach under Rick Pitino at Providence, as the second-youngest head coach in NBA history with the New York Knicks, as head coach at Wisconsin, as the GM of the Vancouver Grizzlies, and as the EVP of the NBA. Ackerman, on the other hand, has served as a special assistant to the commissioner of the NBA, as the commissioner of the WNBA, and as the President of USA Basketball. With all the experience between the two, it’s safe to say that the Big East is in good hands. In fact, the Big East is coming off some of their best seasons in history of late. All 10 teams earned postseason invitations for the first time in the history of the conference in 2018-19. Over the first six years of the 10-team BIG EAST, the league has won two National Championships (Villanova in 2016, 2018) and earned 32 NCAA Tournament invitations, averaging more than five NCAA bids per season.
Courtesy of Patrick Kane
Jones is no stranger to the DeMatha Catholic basketball program. He stared at the program under the late great Morgan Wooten before earning a scholarship at Old Dominion. After serving as an assistant coach for a handful of years and being named as a head coach in 2002 to replace his former mentor, Jones’ career has come full circle. He recently just achieved his 500th win as a head coach and has coached a plethora of DC talent that have gone on to be college stars and walk on the stage to shake the commissioner's hand on draft night. Players like Markelle Fultz (Orlando Magic), Jerami Grant (Denver Nuggets), Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers), Quinn Cook (Los Angeles Lakers), and Jerian Grant (Orlando Magic) have come through the storied program to help Jones carry on Wooten’s legacy and start creating his own. Jones’ work has led to a 500-124 (.801) overall record with eight national rankings and eight WCAC Championships. Jones has coached with USA Basketball over the year as well as the Nike Hoop Summit.
Courtesy of USA Today
Widely regarded as one of the most powerful people in the sport, Just can easily alter the face of college basketball just as well as a kid can play with a potato head doll. With top flight coaches like Chris Beard, Frank Martin, Brad Underwood, Andy Enfield, Kermit Davis, Mike Hopkins as well as other head coaches and assistants, Just sets the standard and sits towards the top of his industry. In fact, the former Tulane walk-on and high school basketball coach represented the top 3 coaches in the AP National Coach of Year voting in Chris Beard (Texas Tech), Kelvin Sampson (Houston), and Mike Young (Wofford). The unparalleled success rate of his clientele has led him to negotiate some of the largest contracts in college basketball of late with total negotiation figures reaching over $800 million since he got his start less than ten years ago. The astronomical amount of coaches he has placed and his quick climb in the sport resulted in a CBS Sports poll that named him as the 4th most powerful person within all of college basketball.
One of the original and major event operators serving primarily the New England area and on down the east coast, Kennedy’s organization has evolved into a complete monster. The company hosts upwards of 80 events year round that have featured some of the nation’s best talent since its inception in 1963. More specifically, the Hoop Group events have produced 148 NBA/WNBA Players, 240 McDonald’s All-Americans, and 73 Hall of Fame coaches and players. The organization’s tentacles run through the sport with connections everywhere you turn. From Bob Knight to Pat Summitt or from Kevin Durant to Larry Bird, Hoop Group has been involved. The past coaches of the program’s different camps and events have combined to win 7 NBA Championships, 6 Olympic Gold Medals, 27 NCAA Championships, and over 100 HIgh School State Championships. Today, coaches like Jesse Agel (Columbia), Lamar Barrett (Hofstra), Sasha Brown (Vanderbilt), Zak Boisvert (Army), Rob Senderoff (Kent State), Kevin Driscoll (Marist), Mike Farrelly (Hofstra), Andy Toole (Robert Morris), Joey Gallo (Merrimack), Kyle Griffin (LaSalle), Ashley Howard (LaSalle), Brian Kennedy (NJIT), Joe Kennedy (Holy Cross) and Chuck Martin (South Carolina) make up a list of 51 people with Hoop Group ties that currently hold prominent positions within basketball.
Kristof has created an empire. One of the smartest and most renowned figures in the youth basketball event space, Kristof has built up a juggernaut since 2010 with a staggering 250+ grassroots events in 23 different states annually. With that being said, if you’re a grassroots program, especially on the east coast, you have likely come through his events at least once. The culmination of his work has allowed athletes to have a platform to be seen and heard on the next level as college coaches regularly attend the different events he has. Kristof’s ZG Prep Classic for example has 44 teams annually from Canada on down to Florida and consistently attracts 100 different NCAA Division I schools while his All-Academic Basketball Camps provide predominately high academic student-athletes with a way to be magnified in front of hundreds of different high academic Division II, III, and NAIA schools around the country. He has found his niche and he tailors it to different groups around the country very well. In addition, Kristof also helped found 3Step Sports, a youth sports initiative that delivers the premier sport experience for all involved. He oversees the basketball side of the company that has 400+ events annually in 37 different states with over 700,000 athletes participating. 1,100 club basketball teams are under their banner.
Courtesy of Oklahoma Athletics
The first-ever coach to guide five different schools to the NCAA Tournament and the only coach to win a NCAA Tournament game with five different programs, Kruger has more than earned his stripes as a program rebuilder. Perhaps even more impressive is that he became the first and only coach since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 to take four programs to the Sweet Sixteen or beyond. His collegiate teams have made postseason appearances in 23 of the last 30 years. He has guided teams to 19 NCAA Tournaments, five Sweet 16s and two Final Fours. Kruger is one of just two head coaches (also Rick Pitino with Kentucky and Louisville) to inherit two teams coming off a sub-.500 year and take both to the Final Four within the first five seasons as head coach. Kruger’s success and his NBA experience as the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks has also gravitated high level players towards him. He has coached four NBA Draft picks in his tenure with the Sooners including two that were taken in the top ten with Trae Young (#5) and Buddy Hield (#6). Clayton Bates, Eric Musselman, Tim Jankovich, Steve Henson, Rob Judson, Marvin Menzies, Dana Altman, Lew Hill are all former assistants or players for Kruger that sprouted from his coaching tree into head coaching jobs of their own at some point during their career.
Courtesy of Duke Athletics
Arguably the biggest and most successful legend of the sport, Krzyzewski has built one of the greatest dynasties in all of sports during his 39 seasons at Duke. The Naismith Hall of Famer and all-time winningest coach in college basketball history at any level, has coached his teams to five NCAA National Championships and has appeared in the Final Four twelve times. He will enter the 2020-21 with a 1,132-344 (.768) overall record in 44 seasons and a 1,059-285 (.788) record in 39 seasons at Duke. Krzyzewkski’s 15 ACC Tournament Championships are the most in league history, his 12 Final Fours are tied for the most in NCAA history, his 35 NCAA Tournament bids are also the most in NCAA history, and 124 weeks ranked No. 1 in the AP poll are the most by a coach in poll history. Additionally, Coach K has coached some of the best players in college basketball and the NBA. He has coached the likes of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, & Dwyane Wade to six gold medals at the Olympics as the head coach of USA Basketball and has also coached the most lottery picks in NBA Draft history (28). The 64 total draft picks have accumulated $1.5 billion in NBA salaries. Lastly, nine of Coach K’s former players or staff are currently Division I head coaches and five hold prominent NBA jobs with Quin Snyder (Utah Jazz head coach), Grant Hill (part-owner Atlanta Hawks), Elton Brand (GM Philadelphia 76ers), Trajan Langdon (GM New Orleans Pelicans), and Shane Battier (VP Analytics & Development Miami Heat). He has transformed the school, the athletic program, and college basketball.
Courtesy of Portland Tribune
When you see the Nike swoosh anywhere in the college basketball game today, Lautenbach had something to do with it. He has spent the last three decades working for Nike to oversee the company’s relationship with different teams they sponsor and events that they run within the space. Duke, Kentucky, Arizona, Oregon, Syracuse, Michigan State, UCONN, Gonzaga, Texas, and Ohio State are just some of the teams that are under Lautenbach’s watch. Additionally, events like the Phil Knight Invitational are seen with Lautenbach’s fingerprints. All the teams in the event have had a business relationship with Nike. In 2017, the sixteen team event included 10 of the previous 14 National Champions and three of the Final Four participants. Lautenbach also is heavily involved with Nike’s relationship with USA Basketball and the NBA dating back to when Coach K took over the national team back in 2005.
With exciting coaches like John Calipari, Bruce Pearl, Ben Howland, Tom Crean, Cuonzo Martin, Mike White, Frank Martin, Will Wade, and Eric Musselman it’s safe to say that the SEC has taken off in somewhat recent years after predominantly being known as a football conference. Leibovitz & Sankey have been able to change that perception. Through ongoing communication between its member institutions and the SEC office, developed strategies to enhance and promote basketball, and the preparation of the school’s basketball schedules in alignment with tv schedules have aided the two of them in doing this. Kentucky (1), Tennessee (4), Arkansas (5), Auburn (6) and LSU (13) each have recruiting classes that rank among the top 25 of ESPN's RecruitingNation Class Rankings. 23 of ESPN's Top 100 recruits signed with SEC schools, including 12 of the top 50 players. Seven SEC teams were selected to participate in the NCAA Tournament in the 2018-19 season with four advancing to the Sweet 16, two to the Elite Eight and one to the Final Four. The SEC has had 15 NCAA Tournament selections over the 2017-19 seasons and every team in the league has appeared in the tournament over the last five years. Leibovitz came to the SEC in 2016 after as an associate commissioner in the American and has also been a college head coach at Hartford. Sankey has been with the SEC since 2002 in various capacities and was previously commissioner of the Southland Conference.
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With over 150 different current NBA players developed, you can trace 35-40% of today’s players back to Lucas and his organization. A good player in his own right, JLE started in 1990 upon completion of Lucas’ 14-year NBA career that started with him being the No. 1 overall pick. The initiative was aimed to help athletes that struggled with drugs and alcohol, the same struggles he had during his career, but quickly morphed to also give players the opportunity to train. Lucas would go on to be a prominent coach in the NBA while JLE continued to move throughout the years, but it hasn’t taken away from Lucas’ connection with many different players, coaches, and basketball figures throughout the country at the grassroots level. The organization has run multiple events throughout the years and Lucas continues to train the next best in basketball as much as he can. He serves as McDonald’s All-American voter, the top scout for the NBPA Top 100 camp, he has developed many different coaches. Bilal Batley (Houston), Dawn Staley (South Carolina), Ed Conroy (Minnesota), Rod Strickland (NBA G League), Chris Buchanan (Portland), Joey Brooks (Nicholls State), Ulric Maligi (Texas Tech), Brian Merritt (Morgan State), Lucas’ son, Jai Lucas (Texas), make up some of the coaches that have developed out of the program.
Courtesy of Andy Lyons
Mack has proven to be a bonafide winner throughout his career. He carries the 17th highest winning percentage amongst active NCAA Division I coaches with his .687 mark while his 259 total victories are 12th most amassed by a coach in their first 11 seasons. He has taken his teams to NCAA Tournaments in nine of the past 11 seasons, three Sweet Sixteens, and one Elite Eight. His teams have had great league success finishing in first or second place five times in the last eleven seasons. His teams at Xavier were a product of great recruiting that were highlighted by NBA Draft picks like Edmond Sumner (Indiana Pacers), Semaj Christon (Oklahoma City Thunder), and Jordan Crawford (New Jersey Nets). Additionally, coaches like Travis Steele (Xavier), Pat Kelsey (Winthrop), and Ashley Howard (LaSalle) make up his tree. Mack got his start under Sean Miller and Skip Prosser where he owned a 229-96 record (.705) in ten seasons.
Courtesy of Wichita State Athletics
Marshall still remains as one of the hottest coaches at NCAA Division I level with all that he has been able to accomplish at Wichita State. In 22 seasons as a head coach, he boasts a 502-196 (.719) overall record with 308-113 (.732) of that coming at Wichita State in 13 seasons. That .719 percentage is good for 12th among active Division I coaches (minimum five years). He's one of just nine coaches with 500 wins and .700+ winning percentage at the D-I level. Under Marshall, WSU has been one of the decade's top programs, winning just shy of 80 percent of its games since the start of the 2010-11 campaign (255-66, .794). Only Gonzaga (.850), Kansas (.811), Duke (.802) and Kentucky (.799) have won at a higher clip. The success has been highlighted by one Final Four, one Sweet Sixteen, and 14 berths to the big dance. His teams have also won conference regular season titles in 11 of his 22 seasons as a head coach. Maybe even more impressive is that Marshall quite possibly might have a strong case for the most successful coaching tree currently. Chris Jans, Steve Forbes, Earl Grant, and Dana Ford are all current head coaches that were assistants under him at one point that have won with Marshall’s recipe. Jans currently ranks second among active coaches with a 78.2% winning percentage and Forbes currently ranks seventh with a winning percentage of 75.1%. Additionally, Earl Grant has won 60% of his games while never finishing below fourth in the CAA the last four years with one NCAA Tournament. Marshall has coached six NBA players including Ron Baker, Fred VanVleet, and Cleanthony Early.
Courtesy of South Carolina Athletics
Martin has had quite the trek up college coaching ranks. After coaching high school basketball just twenty years ago, he enjoyed his first Final Four not only for himself, but in South Carolina program history during the 2016-17 season. Known as being a coach that “keeps it real” with some of his sound bites constantly going on viral social media, Martin has instilled a culture that has brought South Carolina to those new heights the program has never seen before. He helped Kansas State experience some of its best height too, as the Wildcats advanced to one Elite Eight in his time in Manhattan, KS. NBA players like Michael Beasley, Billy Walker, Jacob Pullen, Rodney McGruder, Sindarius Thornwell, PJ Dozier, and Chris Silva have all helped Martin’s initiative and believed in his vision. Martin is a product of the Bob Huggins tree. Just recently, Martin started a coaching tree of his own when Matt Figger was hired by Austin Peay and Brad Underwood was hired at Stephen F. Austin. Martin currently serves on the NABC Board of Directors, as a coach with USA Basketball, and is a co-founder of Latino Association of Basketball Coaches.
Courtesy of Missouri Athletics
The energy and passion that Martin portrays on the sidelines can be seen in his teams over the years. Martin, who is commonly shared and reposted on social media platforms for his powerful interviews, has instilled life into the programs he has been a part of. His stops at Missouri State, Tennessee, Cal Berkeley, and Mizzou have exemplified this. He is one of just 59 coaches in NCAA Division I history to lead three different programs to the NCAA Tournament. He took a Missouri State team from 11 wins in his first season to 24 wins in his second season, a NCAA infraction spelled Tennessee team from 19 wins in his first season to 24 wins and a NCAA Tournament in his third season, a Cal Berkeley team from 18 wins in his first season to 23 wins and a NCAA Tournament in his second season, and a Missouri team that only won eight game in the year prior to his arrival to 20 overall wins in his first year on the sidelines. Martin recruiting prowess have helped him accomplish each turnaround. He has recruited and developed eight NBA players during his time as a head coach and secured one top ten recruiting class. Michael Porter (Denver Nuggets), Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics), and Josh Richardson (Philadelphia 76ers) are just some of his NBA Draft picks.
One of the original founding fathers of AAU basketball not only in Atlanta, but the southeast in general, McCray & Smith have been on the grind since 1990 with as many as 20 teams over the years. It has come with much success as the Adidas based program has had a plethora of NBA & McDonald’s All-American talent over the years thanks to the likes of Dwight Howard, Kobi Simmons, Jordan McRae, Amar’e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Derrick Favors, Brandon Rush, Travis Outlaw, Josh Smith, Randolph Morris, Dion Glover, Tim Quarterman, Jordan Adams, among others that have helped them win countless notable championships. Six AAU National Championships, two Junior Pro National Championships, three BCI National Championships, two Adidas Big Time Championships, and three Adidas Super 64 Championships have all been won. Jarvis Hayes (Georgia State), Jonas Hayes (Xavier), BJ Elder (Georgia Tech), Roshown McLeod, Darryl LaBarrie, and McCray’s son, Korey McCray (Mississippi State), have all helped with these championships while producing over 500 NCAA Division I players.
Courtesy of Mater Dei Athletics
You can’t think of high school basketball without thinking about Gary McKnight and Mater Dei. The living legend has accounted for a staggering 1,161-117 (.908) overall record in 38 seasons on the sidelines at Mater Dei High School and ranks fourth all-time in total wins amongst high school coaches nationwide. The Monarchs have won 37 of 38 Trinity League titles under the Naismith Hall of Fame nominee’s watch and have appeared in an unbelievable 16 state championship games in McKnight’s 38 years at the helm. The Monarchs have brought back 11 of those CIF State Championships and 1 National Championship to Orange County, CA in McKnight’s tenure. He has coached 24 CIF Player of the Years, over 75 NCAA Division I student-athletes, and a total of nine former players have competed in the NBA. Additionally, three of his former players are coaching in the NBA (Miles Simon - Los Angeles Lakers, Mike Gerrity - Cleveland Cavaliers, Kamran Sufi - Washington Wizards) and plenty associated with Mater Dei have coached at the college level. For his achievements, McKnight has earned the NABC’s Guardian of the Game Leadership Award and the Morgan Wooten Lifetime Achievement Award.
Courtesy of Arizona Athletics
Arizona has been at the pinnacle of the PAC 12 conference and a pipeline to the NBA Draft under Miller. In his 11 seasons in Tucson, Miller has guided UA to five regular season conference championships, three conference tournament titles and a Pac-12 winning percentage that trails only John Wooden and Lute Olson. Arizona has produced ten NBA draft selections, including five top-ten picks, during that span as well. The list includes DeAndre Ayton, Lauri Markkanen, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Aaron Gordon, Solomon Hill, and Derrick Williams. He has taken his teams to 11 NCAA Tournaments in 15 potential seasons (2020 NCAA Tournament cancelled), seven Sweet Sixteens and four Elite Eights, and maintains a 20-11 (.645) record as a head coach in the NCAA Tournament. In addition to his success on the college court, Miller has also been able to add some bullet points to the international part of his resume as he has won three gold medals as a player, as an assistant coach, and as a head coach. James Whitford, Joe Pasternack, Archie Miller, and Chris Mack are all current head coaches that once contributed to Miller’s success and now make up his coaching tree.
Known as the faces of JUCO basketball, Jerry Mullen and his son Cameron Belden have built one of the largest scouting services and event businesses for not just JUCO basketball, but pre-four year college basketball as a whole. For 25 years, college coaches have flocked to Mullen’s events to discover some of the next best in college basketball with a particular interest in the JUCO talent the two always seem to bring in at some of their marquee events. With more than 300+ scouting service subscribers and another 300+ that regularly attend their JUCO events, Mullen and Belden spent many years as the monopoly of the particular space before there was any sort of replica. Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour sponsored teams have been frequent at many of their events while many college stars have attended their JUCO showcases. You would have an easier time trying to figure out who didn’t attend their events as most every JUCO player that truly has talent has been through Mullen and Belden’s showcases. Additionally, coaches like Nick Nurse (Toronto Raptors), Steve Forves (Wake Forest), and Brad Underwood (Illinois) are just some of the coaches that have served as a coach at the events as they moved through the ranks.
A veteran in the grassroots space that has seen it all and done it all. Mullins has been able to put his teams on the highest pedestal over the years with the combination of his expertise, the UA Association, and authentic relationships within the grassroots world. Since its inception in 1999, the Wolves have had almost 300 players that have received in excess of $60 million in scholarships. Built on the foundation of good kids that care about education, those 300 former Wolves, highlighted by two NBA Draft picks in Evan Turner (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Frank Kaminsky (Phoenix Suns), have gone on to play at many different programs around the country and while executing a 97% graduation rate. The development hasn’t stopped there. Mullins has also provided a platform for his former coaches/players like Luke Yaklich (UIC), Willie Veasley (UIC), Brendan Mullins (Southern Illinois), and Bryan Mullins (Southern Illinois).
The 7-man team that makes up the NBPA Camp Board collectively brings an unmatched level of knowledge and experience to the game. Frank Burlison, Clark Francis, Van Coleman, Dain Ervin, Darnell Johnson, Horace Neysmith, and Mike Rice all reside in different areas of the country and have been a centerpiece in their different basketball communities while also have a knowledge of the state of the grassroots game around the country. Together they bring almost 200 years of combined experience while selecting players to attend the prestigious NBPA Camp and also have a college coaching network that spans the entire Division I level. Many serve on other committees, have their own scouting service, coach, and/or run their own events.
Frank Burlison - Respected scout for 40 years, US Basketball Writers Association Hall of Fame, McDonald’s All-American voter
Clark Francis - Respected scout for 40 years, McDonald’s All-American voter
Van Coleman - Respected scout for 45 years, McDonald’s All-American voter, Naismith Player of the Year selection committee
Dain Ervin - Respected scout for 10 years own service and for Nike
Darnell Johnson - John Lucas Enterprises scout
Horace Neysmith - Respected All Metro Hoops scout in Atlanta for 15 years
Mike Rice - Former college coach at Rutgers and current coach at the grassroots level
Jim Hicks -Has actively served on the NBPA Top 100 board since 2012
There are many highlights that come from an Oakland Soldiers program that has been around for over 25 years. Mark Olivier has spearheaded the growth of the program into one of the most premier programs in the country. The Bay Area powerhouse has produced over 200 NCAA Division I players and their alumni list is filled with notables like Chauncey Billups, Kendrick Perkins, Matt Barnes, Drew Gooden, Eddie House, LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers), Stanley Johnson (Detroit Pistons), and Aaron Gordon (Orlando Magic). 28 players have transitioned to the NBA level while another 50+ have had long careers overseas. The consistent talent over the years have led the Soldiers to two EYBL Championships making them among a select group of programs that can say they’ve won the prominent tournament twice. Johnnie Bryant (Utah Jazz), Mark Madsen (Utah Valley), Justin Joyner (St. Mary’s), Senque Carey (Long Beach State), and Damany Hendrix (Vanderbilt) are just some of the coaches that have played for or coached for the program that now hold more prominent jobs within basketball. The Soldiers also host some events and operate a four court facility in the Bay Area year round.
Courtesy of Purdue Athletics
Painter has the total package when you look at a basketball coach. Whether its NCAA Tournament runs, league titles, or NBA players, if you name it, Painters got it. He is ever so surely climbing the ranks as Purdue’s winningest coach and his four Sweet Sixteens, one Elite Eight, and 362-179 (.669) overall record highlight the incredible job he has done in Lafayette, IN. He ranks eighth in total Big Ten Conference wins, his 11.1 conference wins per year ranks fifth, and his four Big Ten Coach of the Year awards are tied for third most behind Gene Keady and Bob Knight. Furthermore, in terms of NCAA Tournaments, his 11 berths in the last 14 seasons ranks eighth most, his five Sweet Sixteens in the past 12 years rank ninth most, and his 12 total NCAA Tournament appearances are the most for a coach nationally under the age of 55. NBA Draft picks like Carsen Edwards, Vincent Edwards, Caleb Swanigan, AJ Hammons, E’Twaun Moore, Carl Landry, Robbie Hummel, and JaJuan Johnson make up some of the six winningest classes in school history that have come from the Painter era. Cuonzo Martin (Missouri), Greg Gary (Mercer), Brad Korn (SEMO), Jack Owens (Miami OH), Rick Ray, and Paul Lusk are all Painter proteges that have earned head coaching jobs at some point during their careers.
Courtesy of Parker Search
One of the titans in the search firm industry, Daniel Parker has aimed athletic directors’ attention towards some of college basketball’s best candidates over the years and has been responsible for some of the biggest hires. Upon hiring the firm, schools get access to a database of hundreds of college coaches with all sorts of info attached while Parker Search handles the interviews, communicates with candidates, negotiates the contracts, among other things. Those same routines have been used in the hires that Parker Search has been at the forefront of over the years, including: Archie Miller to Indiana, John Groce to Illinois, Dave Leitao to DePaul, Chris Collins to Northwestern, Cuonzo Martin to Missouri, and Jeff Capel to Oklahoma. While universities don’t have to necessarily hire a search firm like Parker, they are inclined to as Parker represents many schools during searches for athletic directors and other administrators as well. Coaches go to great lengths to stay in Parker's good graces.
Courtesy of CBS Sports
If you dive deep and look at all the things that Parrish has been able to do during his career, it doesn’t take you long to realize that he is one of the backbones on that side of the ball. With nearly 200,000 followers on Twitter, Parrish’s feed is constantly being refreshed and checked on a daily basis to be in the know on all the latest happenings in the sport. Since joining the network in 2006, Parrish has been the recipient of awards for his work, has commonly been seen on television, and very often shows on the radio if you’re tuned in to 92.9 FM in Memphis where he has his own radio show. Additionally, Parrish’s Eye on College Basketball podcast that he does with Matt Norlander is rated as the 28th best basketball podcast on Apple and is the #1 college basketball podcast. His hot takes, breaking news stories, etc. are followed by thousands and definitely influence college basketball.
Courtesy of Auburn Athletics
Pearl’s ability to dig in and get the job done no matter the circumstances at his different stops throughout his career have been nothing short of remarkable. He is one of just three head coaches to take four programs (with three at the DI level) to the Sweet 16, joining Lon Kruger and Eddie Sutton. In five years as head coach at Auburn, he has catapulted the Tigers to 100 wins, two SEC championships, what would’ve more than likely been a third NCAA Tournament if not for the pandemic, and the program’s first ever appearance in the Final Four. With an average RPI of 191.8 before Pearl took over the program, Pearl’s 16th and 13th place finishes in the final RPI the past two seasons makes Pearl’s success that much more impressive. Records for attendance have been shattered to see the Tigers and Pearl. The owner of a 587-221 (.722) overall record, Pearl also had great success at Tennessee where his teams consistently ranked amongst the best in college basketball. The high energy coach has recruited some of the sport’s best classes over the years, which has cultivated into the development of NBA Draft picks like Tobias Harris (Philadelphia 76ers), Jordan McRae (Detroit Pistons), Chuma Okeke (Orlando Magic), and Jarnell Stokes. Additionally, his success has helped former assistants like Steve Forbes, Jason Shay, Todd Golden make up his coaching tree.
Courtesy of ESPN
An undisputed legend, Pitino’s best contribution to the game could quite possibly be his coaching tree, which ranks as one of the biggest and best in college basketball history. Billy Donovan, Tubby Smith, Mick Cronin, Herb Sendek, Kevin Willard, Marvin Menzies, Kevin Keatts, Steve Masiello, Reggie Theus, Richard Pitino Jr, Jim O’Brien, Wyking Jones, Walter McCarty, Kareem Richardson, amongst others that have branched out as “grandchildren” make up the impressive tree that accounts for roughly five percent of college basketball. On the flip side, Pitino has taken four different programs to the NCAA Tournament, is the only coach to lead three different schools to the Final Four, and is the only coach to win a national championship at two different schools, an astounding three feats. During his 32 seasons as a collegiate head coach, Pitino has a 770-271 (.777) overall record and a 54-19 (.740) record in the NCAA Tournament. The .740 percentage in the tournament is the third highest among active Division I coaches while the overall winning percentage is good for fifth. The success and his time as a head coach in the NBA has helped him draw 28 NBA Draft picks to his teams over the years. Those draft picks include Montrezl Harrell, Terry Rozier, Gorgui Dieng, Antoine Walker, Jamal Mashburn, & Ron Mercer. The Naismith Hall of Famer is one of six active coaches with NBA head coaching experience.
Courtesy of Nicholas Koza
In nineteen seasons in the Las Vegas, NV desert, Grant Rice has put together one of the greatest runs of any high school coach as he has compiled 13 state championships with an overall record of 502-102 (.831). Even more impressive perhaps is that the Gaels have won the last eight straight state titles in Nevada, which exemplifies Rice’s dominance. Players like Stephen Zimmerman (Orlando Magic), Zach Collins (Portland Trail Blazers), Shabazz Muhammad (Milwaukee Bucks), CJ Watson (Orlando Magic), and over 60 NCAA Division I players have helped him accomplish such feats along the way. Rice also oversees other things within the sport though. He currently serves as a McDonald’s All-American voter and has played a big role in the famous FAB 48 tournament that runs every year in Las Vegas along with plenty of others like the Las Vegas Big Time and the Tarkanian Classic. He also coached in the Jordan Brand Classic in 2012 and 2019. Rice played at nearby UNLV under Bill Bayno, who is now a coach with the Indiana Pacers, and grew up in a basketball family. His father was longtime coach and his brother, Dave Rice, is a former head coach at UNLV himself (now at Washington).
Courtesy of Carter Smith
Winning has been Sampson’s shadow throughout his career. The veteran of 15 NCAA Tournaments, Sampson is part of an elite class of fourteen coaches that has coached 4+ schools to the NCAA Tournament. The DNA of his 639-330 (.659) overall record in 31 seasons as a head coach contains two Sweet Sixteens (Houston & Oklahoma), one Elite Eight (Oklahoma), and one Final Four (Oklahoma). Known for his abilities as a recruiter that have only gotten more potent with his recent time in the NBA as an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets, Sampson has been able to secure top flight talent throughout his career. Eric Gordon (Houston Rockets), Damyean Dotson (New York Knicks), DJ White, Eduardo Najera, Corey Brewer, Nate Erdmann, and Ryan Minor make up the roster of his NBA Draft picks. They are just a few of the highly rated recruits that Sampson has been able to lure.
Described by Forbes magazine as “…one of the most influential men in college athletics,” Glenn Sugiyama is credited with building one of the largest and most renowned sports practice groups in the executive recruitment industry along with his partner, Pat Richter. Their clients include a wide range of companies including the NBA, Cleveland Cavaliers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, PGA Tour, Reebok, and major Power 5 universities such as the University of Pittsburgh, University of Arizona, University of Miami (FL), and Northwestern University. The pair have consistently placed head football coaches at the D1 level, including hiring Mike Norvell at Florida State and Mel Tucker at Michigan State just in the last six months. Other key college football and basketball hires include Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, Jeff Brohm at Purdue, and Cuonzo Martin at Cal-Berkeley. According to the Chicago Tribune, “93% of the coaches Sugiyama has placed over the last five years have been extended.” As a former D1 basketball coach and member of the then NBA World Champion Chicago Bulls Board of Directors, Glenn’s basketball experience is what sets him apart from all others in the search industry. DHR was selected above all other search firms by the NABC Board, (composed of other 100 list members Mike Krzyzewski, John Calipari, Frank Martin, Jamie Dixon, and Mike Brey) to lead the National Association of Basketball Coaches Executive Director search when Jim Haney retires next year. In a similar search process, DHR International was selected to lead the search, placing Tom McMillen as CEO of Lead1, formerly the Division 1A Athletic Directors Association. Recently, the two have placed multiple basketball Conference Coach of the Year winners including Josh Pastner at Georgia Tech, John Groce at Akron, Frank Haith at Tulsa, and Craig Smith at Utah State.
Courtesy of Mitchell Layton
Arguably one of the best follows in the sport for the latest and hottest news stories, Rothstein has served as an insider with the CBS Sports Network since 2010 and CBS Television Network since 2012. He regularly appears on Inside College Basketball, CBS Sports Network’s pre-game and post-game highlight show and is also a familiar face as a sideline reporter. Self labeled as college basketball’s hungriest insider, Rothstein spends countless hours on the phone lines each day exploring rumor mills with different sources before he’s shooting out information to his 214,000 followers on Twitter or to his loyal fans on his College Hoops Today podcast that has recently featured the likes of Shake Smart (Texas), Steve Forbes (Wake Forest), Rick Pitino (Iona), and Danny Hurley (UCONN).
Courtesy of Oregon Live
Scott has remained one of the power players in college athletics since he was hired in 2009 to lead the PAC 12 Conference. He has positioned the conference for the future by negotiating a $3 billion television deal with ESPN and Fox, by introducing the PAC 12 Network, garnering $3.6 million in annual student-athlete initiative funding, and by moving the men’s basketball PAC 12 Tournament out of Staples Center. Over 260 PAC 12 basketball games were broadcasted for viewers around the country this year making it one of the nation’s most familiar conferences via this channel. Viewers got to see the product of inner workings of the conference as well as a season that saw the beginning of an upward trend for a new look UCLA team, young and talented teams like Arizona and USC, and a first team all-american in Payton Pritchard lead the Oregon Ducks to a first place finish.
Courtesy of Jamie Squire
The second-youngest coach to claim 700 NCAA Division I victories, Self has been at the forefront of unprecedented success throughout the course of his career. In that time, he has dominated the Big 12 Conference winning NCAA-record 14-straight regular season (15 overall) league titles and eight Big 12 Tournament Championships. More than amazing is that the Jayhawks have more Big 12 regular season league championships under Self (15) than they do losses at home (14) in Self’s tenure. The Oklahoma native is 501-109 (.821) in 17 seasons at Kansas and an astonishing 264-14 (.950) at Allen Fieldhouse. The success has been highlighted by 17 stars that have suited up in the Jayhawk uniform that have gone on to be NBA Draft lottery selections. The Naismith Hall of Famer has brought great NCAA Tournament success to Lawrence, KS too. The Jayhawks have advanced and finished in one NCAA Championship, one Final Fours, five Elite Eights, two Sweet Sixteens and he is one of ten active Division I coaches that have won a NCAA Championship (Kansas 2008). He is one of six coaches in NCAA Division I history to have led three different teams – Tulsa, Illinois and Kansas – to the NCAA Elite Eight. Decision makers have been gravitated towards his assistant coaches over time in the wake of the success. Coaches like Danny Manning, Joe Dooley, Tim Jankovich, Kyle Keller, Barry Hinson, Billy Gillispie, and Norm Roberts have all been hired to be head coaches at some points during their careers. Self has also worked with USA Basketball winning a gold medal twice and has served on the NCAA rules committee.
Courtesy of Santa Clara Athletics
Sendek’s combination of 12 current head coaches that fall under his coaching tree along with his 5 NBA Draft picks make him a pretty impressive influencer. Ron Hunter (Akron), Archie Miller (Indiana), Sean Miller (Arizona), Eric Musselman (Arkansas), Dedrique Taylor (Cal State Fullerton), Jim Christian (Boston College), Scott Pera (Rice), James Whitford (Ball State), Barret Peery (Portland State), Rob Senderoff (Kent State), John Groce (Akron), and Stan Johnson (LMU) all fall under that category for Sendek. In fact, with a couple more coaches that you can indirectly trace back to Sendek, by our calculations Sendek’s tree is good for about the fourth or fifth largest among all active college coaches. The feat derives from the amount of success and the amount of respect Sendek has amongst people within the industry. He has earned Coach of the Year awards in three different conferences throughout his career and has taken three different teams to the NCAA Tournament with one Sweet Sixteen. His most notable NBA player is James Harden, followed by Julius Hodge and Wally Szcerbiak.
Courtesy of Texas Athletics
Known for his exciting brand of basketball during his VCU days, Shaka Smart is still considered one of the bright young stars in the sport. In 10 seasons overall as a collegiate head coach, the 42-year-old Smart has compiled a 234-122 (.657) record with seven of his 10 teams advancing to NCAA Tournament play. A guy that works really well off of momentum with his havoc style defense or even his tournament runs, Smart has been able to make two noteworthy runs. His Texas team won the NIT in 2018-19 and his VCU Rams enjoyed a NCAA Final Four in 2011. Smart has been able to continue to draw big time talent to Austin. Mo Bamba (Orlando Magic), Jaxson Hayes (New Orleans Pelicans), Jarrett Allen (Brooklyn Nets), and Larry Sanders are all former NBA Draft picks while guys like Will Baker, Courtney Ramey, Kamaka Hepa, and Greg Brown are others that could possibly continue to that path. The success of Smart has been attempted to be duplicated plenty of times as athletic directors have hired Luke Yaklich (UIC), Mike Morrell (UNC Asheville), Mike Rhoades (VCU), Will Wade (LSU), and Darrin Horn (Northern Kentucky) are all former assistant coaches under his watch.
Courtesy of Oak Hill Athletics
A 9-time national champion and currently sitting only behind legendary high school coaches Bobby Hurley Sr. and Morgan Wooten atop the all-time winningest high school head coaches list, Smith has contributed to the transformation of the way high school basketball looks today. For the past 35 years, his Oak Hill program has served as the blueprint for prep schools that have emerged throughout the country with Smith’s 1,174-83 (.934) overall record and fraternity of 29 McDonald’s All-Americans and 28 NBA Draft picks including Jerry Stackhouse, Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo, Josh Smith, Brandon Jennings, and Kevin Durant. The winning percentage puts the Naismith Hall of Fame nominee in first all-time amongst high school coaches and the family of NBA players that are enshrined with their jerseys hanging on the wall in the Mouth of Wilson, VA gymnasium is a standard that anyone would want to reach in the profession. Additionally, coaches like Jerry Stackhouse (Vanderbilt), Matt Scherbenske (Central Arkansas), Nolan Smith (Duke), Brett Carey (Indiana State), Billy Schmidt (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Kevin White (Campbell) have been guys who represent the program in the coaching ranks.
Courtesy of Caleb Diaz
A pioneer in the representation field of the sport, Spander is the first and currently the only woman repping men’s college basketball coaches. A graduate of Stanford and UCLA Law, Spander has put her fingerprints on the sport as she represents coaches like Fred Hoiberg, Travis DeCuire, and Todd Golden while the Wasserman practice currently reps over 50 college coaches. Wasserman has negotiated some of the largest contracts in sports history with her in the mix. While not all of it pertains to college coaching, Spander has negotiated $1.3 billion in deals over her eight years with the company. Spander also oversees the broadcasting side of the ball where she oversees executives like Brian Scalabrine, Corey Maggette, Cory Alexander, Earl Watson and the NBA executive side where she currently represents Brent Barry, Antawn Jamison, and Nazr Mohammed. She has been inducted into the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and has been named a Sports Business Game Changer so far in her young career.
Courtesy of Tony Sandys
A grassroots coach that is likely in the call log of just about every prominent coach in America, Stevens is part of the who’s who in grassroots basketball. Programs around the DC area could essentially be called Team Takeover for the amount of Stevens products that are on the different rosters. The program has churned out at least eight NCAA Division I players just about every year the program has been in existence and has a number of prominent NBA players like Victor Oladipo and Jerami Grant already in its history. The robust talent has led to success on the court and the growth of his program as Stevens has led his program to two Peach Jam Championships while the overall program has grown to over 30 teams. Coaches like Jamill Jones (VCU), Doug Martin, Brenden Straughn (Saint Joseph’s), Nima Omidvar (George Washington), Jordan Brooks (Howard), Branden McDonald (Towson), Calvin Cage (Canisius), Xavier Joyner (James Madison), Calvin Baker (James Madison), Tony Skinn (Seton Hall), Tim Brooks (Hartford), Evann Baker (Akron), and Dan Matic (Saint John’s) make up an impressive list of coaches that have advanced to new careers within basketball from under Stevens.
Stovall is the man behind Nike’s identification of tomorrow’s biggest and brightest stars. A former scout for ESPN, he spends his time traveling the country to the most talent rich events where he helps serve as Nike’s eyes and liaison while attempting to hand pick talent for the 40 different Nike EYBL teams across the country. Ben Simmons, D’Angelo Russell, Jayson Tatum, RJ Barrett, Trae Young, Marvin Bagley, DeAndre Ayton, Jaren Jackson make up a list of 8 players that have been selected in the top 5 of the NBA Draft in the past five years under his watch that he has been able to cultivate relationships with. He has helped sell some of these players on the truths of the EYBL that make the league so prominent like the 26 EYBL alums that played in the 2018 Final Four or 22 of 30 players the league had selected in the first round of the 2018 NBA Draft. The Michigan native got his start for prep spotlight scouting service, a platform he helped found. Stovall is widely respected throughout grassroots basketball.
A juggernaut of a program in the Kansas City area since 2004, Suther has constructed an impressive product of basketball with nearly 250 kids and 20 different teams. The platform he has been able to provide his MoKan teams with has resulted in over 125 student-athletes receiving an estimated $28.3 million in scholarships, a pedestal that many programs can not say they have reached. Players like Willie Cauley-Stein (Dallas Mavericks), Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks), Michael Porter (Denver Nuggets), Alec Burks (Golden State Warriors), Semi Ojeleye (Boston Celtics), and Shake Milton (Philadelphia 76ers) have all been cut from the MoKan cloth while a total of almost 70 NCAA Division I players have propelled them to two Nike EYBL Championships, two Nike EYBL Final Fours, and 71 major tournament championships from 2013-2019. The success and the attention that is highlighted by three national television appearances has led to a backing from Kevin Durant. Additionally, former coaches and workers at MoKan’s five different events year round have allowed the likes of Rodney Perry (Oral Roberts), Max Lefevre (Minnesota Timberwolves), and Buzzy Caruthers (Nebraska)to take the next steps in their careers from working under Suther.
Terry has controlled much of the world of sports recruiting media since June of 2000. He co-founded Rivals.com, the leading Internet site in college sports, high school sports and college recruiting, and later sold the company to Yahoo for an estimated $98 million in July 2007. In fact, company’s Founded/Co-founded by Terry have generated more than $250 million in online revenue over the past decade. The staggering accomplishments led him to be named to the Forty under 40 in 2006 and 2007, and the SportsBusiness Journal’s Forty Under 40 Hall of Fame in 2008. He was the first-ever digital media Hall of Fame recipient for the publication. In addition, Terry was named to the trade publication’s 20 Most Influential People in Online Sports (ranked No. 11 & No. 14, respectively) list in 2007 and 2008. Since, he has launched and served as 247 Sports’ CEO since 2010. The company is one of the most followed and state of the art college sports recruiting media platforms in the world. Terry graduated from Lipscomb University where he was a 4-year letterwinner and co-captain on the basketball team under legendary head coach Don Meyer.
Considered one of the godfathers of AAU basketball, Trigonis has spent nearly the last three decades dedicating his life to the game of basketball since his Fullcourt Press scouting service and Belmont Shore program started in 1994. The experience and Trigonis’ never stop attitude led to the foundation of many different authentic relationships that he still uses today. With a scouting service that was in full swing and an AAU program that was quickly on the rise, he began starting events like the Pangos Dream Classic, Eddie Jones All-Star Classic, and Pangos All-American camp, which eventually culminated into a year’s worth calendar crowded events under the Pangos banner. Today, his voice continues to resonate throughout the sport as 150 schools take his scouting service. While he may be best known for drawing LeBron James to Los Angeles to play Gary McKnight’s Mater Dei powerhouse in a nationally televised game on ESPN in front of a sold out crowd of 12,500 fans, Trigonis’ events have also been highlighted by top flight talent like Dwight Howard, Sebastian Telfair, Paul Pierce, Derrick Favors, Baron Davis, Jrue Holiday, Tyson Chandler, Gilbert Arenas, Richard Jefferson, among countless others. Dinos’ Belmont Shore teams have produced 217 NCAA Division I players, upwards of 20 prominent tournament championships, and a long list of 33 NBA players including household names like Brandon Jennings, James Harden, DeMar Derozan, and Jrue Holiday.
The UA Association started its grassroots board two years ago to cultivate ways to enhance the experience of the league, have a forum amongst coaches about best practices when dealing with athletes’ development, and to help each other grow in terms of the recruitment of each program. LJ Goolsby with KC Pump N’ Run, Lupe Nunez with Texas Hardwork, Winfred Jordan with Atlanta Xpress, and Donnell “Mookie” Dobbins with Team Thrill are all influencers in the grassroots space. They have vast experience between the four of them that spans over 50 years in grassroots. Goolsby has served as a coach with USA Basketball and at various events like the Nike Hoop Summit and the Under Armour Elite 24. Nunez spearheaded the first shoe contract in San Antonio in the modern shoe circuit era and just had his first NBA Draft first round pick in Jahmius Ramsey with another 4 top 70 ranked kids on the way that could be next. Winfred Jordan has been making his mark on the grassroots scene for 22 years and his Atlanta Xpress program could end up having the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft in Anthony Edwards. Donnell “Mookie” Dobbins has had much success on the UA Circuits with four top 50 ranked players. He has also coached his teams to three national championships.
Courtesy of Arthur Puu
One of the most influential figures in grassroots basketball, Udo-Ema has been building up his profile and developing players on the west coast since 1993. 34 NBA names have been called on draft night that have been associated with Compton Magic. The figure means that Udo-Ema has produced more NBA players than many prominent college coaches during the 27-year span. 5 NBA Draft picks have come in the last four years with the selections of TJ Leaf (Indiana Pacers), Jordan Bell (Golden State Warriors), Ike Anigbogu (Indiana Pacers), Jaylen Hands (Los Angeles Clippers), Onyeka Okongwu (projected lottery pick). The high level of talent including 4 McDonald’s All-Americans in the last 5 years has led to many recent successes as a team at different prominent events. Udo-Ema has led his programs to roughly ten championship victories in the last five years including what many believe was the game of the summer when Compton Magic (Adidas Gauntlet Champs) knocked off Team Takeover (Nike EYBL Champs) at the FAB 48 in Las Vegas. Eric Mobley (USC), David Grace, Jeff Theiler, and Rod Palmer (UCLA) are just some of the coaches that have earned a Division I coaching job at some point during their careers.
Courtesy of ESPN
There may be no one person that has put energy and life into the college basketball game more than Dick Vitale has from the sidelines for television. Known for his catchphrases such as "This is awesome, baby!”, "diaper dandy", and “He’s a PTPer!”, Vitale has been one of the most familiar faces in the sport since 1979 when he joined the network and called ESPN’s first-ever college basketball game between DePaul and Wisconsin. Perhaps the first biggest game of his career came when he called the St. Vincent-St. Mary’s vs. Oak Hill Academy game featuring LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony with Brad Nessler and Bill Walton. Now, Vitale is doing approximately 40 games a year and has thousands of college basketball fans visit him at First Watch each year, a restaurant he dines at near his home in Florida on almost a daily basis. His voice resonates throughout the sport as he often is outspoken on issues that arise within the sport. Additionally, the Naismith Hall of Famer serves as a voter for the AP Top 25, the annual Naismith Award, and the John Wooden Award. He has history as a NBA & college coach, wrote nine different books, has appeared in different movies, and is a large advocate of different charities like the Jimmy V Foundation.
Courtesy of Kansas State Athletics
Weber has made his impact felt during his career. He is currently only one of ten head coaches that have coached three different programs to the Sweet Sixteen (Southern Illinois, Illinois, and Kansas State). The former Gene Keady pupil has compiled a 474-265 (.641) record in 22 seasons as a head coach with perhaps his greatest feat coming at Illinois when he coached the Fighting Illini to the NCAA Tournament Championship as one of the most exciting teams in college basketball that featured four NBA Draft picks in Deron Williams (#3), Luther Head (#24), James Augustine (#41) and National Player of the Year Dee Brown (#46). The four make up a list of eight NBA Players that Weber has coached during his head coaching career that have propelled him to six regular season conference championships. He is the first Wildcat head coach to lead the program to multiple 25-win seasons (three). To top it off, Weber has coached for USA Basketball and has won one Gold Medal.
When you examine the DNA that makes up the Team Loaded program it’s hard to ignore the job that Ty White has done. He has built an undeniable juggernaut in the Carolina, Virginia, and DC areas. Over 300 players have earned scholarships playing with the prominent program and their platform they have set up with their success over the years. The family first motto followed by scholarship and championships has culminated in 8 prominent grassroot tournament championships in the past ten years at various levels. Guys like Frank Mason (Milwaukee Bucks), Dennis Smith (New York Knicks), Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Caleb & Cody Martin (Charlotte Hornets), and Thon Maker (Detroit Pistons) have helped spearhead those efforts along with a list of about 30 others that are currently playing in other professional leagues. Additionally, current college stars like Mamadi Diakite, Javin Delaurier, Nate Hinton, and Josh Hall, and Isaiah Miller could all hear their name called by commissioner Silver this year. While it’s clear that players have benefited, coaches have too. David Kontaxis (Oklahoma State), Tyler Lewis (Elon), and Jackson Simmons (Charlotte Hornets) are a short list of many. White coaches at John Marshall High School and has won three Virginia State Championships.
Courtesy of Mile Split VA
One of the original Godfathers of grassroots basketball, Boo Williams is still going strong. Williams has exemplified where serving your community can get you as his 64,000 square foot Boo Williams Sportsplex serves as a reminder for all the hard work he has put into the coastal Virginia communities for nearly the last 40 years. The facility now plays home to numerous events, including his infamous league that has roughly 200 teams with 2,000 different players, that the former St. Joseph Hawk puts on for his community year round and his AAU teams that have been with him all along. Williams currently has more players in the NBA than any other Nike EYBL program (12) and has upwards of 25 NBA players that have come through his programs including Allen Iverson, Alonzo Mourning, Kent Bazemore, Ed Davis, JJ Redick, Jarrett Jack, and Kendall Marshall. The talent bed has led his teams to be one of eight programs to win multiple EYBL Championships over the years. Williams currently serves as the chairman of AAU basketball and has helped produce Ivan Thomas (Providence), Anthony Brammer (USF), Austin Shaver (Longwood), David Grace, Willie Bell (The Citadel), Kyle Church (Florida), and John Richardson (Old Dominion) are some coaches that have all spent time working under the grassroots legend.
PSA Cardinals has grown from one team of a handful of afterschool students started at a recreation center to one of the top grassroots programs in the country under Williams. Coaches and scouts from all over the country have flocked to gyms where his teams compete to recruit some of the next best in not only college basketball, but the NBA. In fact, when PSA Cardinals put on their last combine to showcase their players to college coaches during a live period, approximately 90 different NCAA Division I coaches from every league in the country showed up in New York to take in the talent on display. Williams, who is commonly referred to as “Munch,” has made the identification and development of such players one of his specialties. The program has produced 77 NCAA Division I athletes with 3 NCAA Tournament champions and 8 NBA Draft selections including Mo Bamba (Orlando Magic), Thomas Bryant (Washington Wizards), Omari Spellman (Minnesota Timberwolves), Cheick Diallo (Phoenix Suns), Ty Jerome (Phoenix Suns). Additionally, the program has been a focal point of the McDonald’s All-American game having had 5 selections to the prestigious game in the past six years.
Courtesy of North Carolina Athletics
Williams is currently in third place among active Division I head coaches with the amount of players that he has been able to develop into NBA Draft selections during his illustrious career. The Naismith Hall of Famer has coached 38 NBA Draft selections with 32 of those selections coming in the first round. The list includes Paul Pierce, Kirk Hinrich, Harrison Barnes, Justin Jackson, Marvin Williams, Coby White and all four of his National POYs in Sean May, Tyler Hansbrough, and Drew Gooden. Williams also helped develop Michael Jordan into one of the all-time faces in sports history under Dean Smith as an assistant coach at North Carolina. The culmination of talent over the years has led to three national championships (ranked second among active coaches and tied for third all-time), eight Final Four appearances (ranked second among active coaches and fourth all-time), and 77 NCAA Tournament games won (ranked second among active coaches and second all-time). Williams’ recipe for success has been admired and has led to the hires of Matt Doherty, Neil Dougherty, Jerry Green, Jerod Haase, CB McGrath, Wes Miller, King Rice, Steve Robinson, Mark Turgeon, Kevin Stallings and Rex Walters, all former players or assistants of Williams, as head coaches at some point during their career.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The son of the late great and legendary Morgan Wooten, Joe Wooten has been blazing his own trail. After winning just six games the year before he was announced as a head coach in 1999, Wooten has led Bishop O’Connell High School to unmounted success averaging close to 25 wins per season during his tenure. 5 Virginia State Independent Titles, 3 WCAC Regular Season Titles, 4 Alhambra Catholic Invitational Titles, and 2 WCAC Tournament Titles have come out of it. Many prominent coaches have sung their praises for Wooten’s knowledge of the game and his successes. The attention has led many players wanting to be a part of the action. Wooten has coached nearly 50 players that have gone to play college basketball, 5 that have played overseas, and one NBA Draft pick in Marcus Thornton. Additionally, coaches like Mike Pegues (Louisville), Jackson (Virginia Tech), and Joey Cantafio make up five NCAA Division I assistants and one head coach that he has worked with. Wooten also serves on the McDonald’s All-American Selection Committee and is a member of many different prominent camp coaching staffs.
Courtesy of Steven Falk
Wright is one of only three active Division I head coaches with multiple national championships under their belt. One of college basketball smooth operators, Wright currently holds a 594-267 (.686) record in 26 seasons as a head coach, including a 472-182 (.720) mark in 19 seasons at Nova. The Wildcats have dominated the Big East conference in recent history with six of the past seven Big East regular season championships coming back to Philadelphia. Wright ranks third all-time among league coaches and is 28-14 (.667) in NCAA Tournament competition. One of the few coaches that gets kids to buy into a unique culture development and redshirting around the NCAA Division I level (Mark Few another of note), Wright has had great success churning out NBA talent with some players who have agreed to go down this route. Omari Spellman, Mikal Bridges, Eric Paschall, and Donte DiVincenzo were some successful redshirts that are NBA Draft picks under Wright while others like Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, Randy Foye, and Kyle Lowry were some that weren’t. The rare culture that has had great success has also led many of Wright’s coaching proteges to be hired by different programs over the years. Coaches like Tom Pecora, Joe Jones, Pat Chambers, Billy Lange, Ashley Howard, and Baker Dunleavy have all secured head coaching positions at some point in their careers after learning under Wright. On top of the two Sweet Sixteens, one Elite Eight, one Final Four, and two national championships, Wright’s career has also been capped off by serving as a coach on the USA Basketball staff where he has earned one gold medal.
One of the original high school basketball scouts, Tom Konchalski dedicated over 40 years of his life scouting the next great basketball talent. Since 1984, Konchalski identified players like Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant. Known for his lack of a cell phone, computer, or car to get around to the thousands of games he saw during the course of his career, Konchalski used a typewriter to type up his tri-weekly reports that were received by nearly every school in the country that took his service. Numerous NBA stars of today and of the past and hundreds of current and former college coaches were affected by Konchalski. He was a staple in his New York City community and his word was gospel amongst many basketball figures that relied on him to evaluate talent. Konchalski retired just recently, but leaves behind a legacy of being a fixture in east coast gyms, an evaluator at the famous Five Star Basketball Camps, and a trusted source amongst many in the basketball world. He will truly be missed.
From loaded grassroots teams with future NBA All-Stars to grassroots events with hundreds of teams, the Pump brothers helped blaze a trail for how grassroots basketball looks today. Countless coaches have earned jobs as a result of their efforts in the basketball space and many, including some that are on this list, have grown from their past ventures. Their connections run through all of sports, business, and entertainment and remain an example. The Pump Party at the Final Four is still a well attended event for networking in college basketball and the brothers’ Harold & Carole Pump Foundation that benefits cancer research has never been so strong. They will forever be a respected duo that helped many lives throughout the courses of their career.
The sports marketing mastermind can be credited for the many different ways basketball looks today. Vaccaro spent time working with Nike, Adidas, and Reebok and had a huge impact on the growth of each company. He is often credited with bringing Michael Jordan to Nike, Kobe Bryant to Adidas, and other big signings throughout his career that paved the way for shoe companies to even think about getting involved in grassroots sports. Vaccaro was also the founder of the famous ABCD Camp that played host to countless NBA superstars when they were still at the high school level and the co-founder of the first-ever high school all-star game, the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic. The events were well covered by media and college coaches and also had numerous counselors that helped at the events that ultimately advanced in their careers. Many people on this list modeled their career after Vaccaro or learned under him. He has also been a strong voice against the NCAA’s treatment of players as far as compensation goes.
Raveling connections run deep throughout the sport. He is considered one of the first prominent African American coaches at the college basketball level during his career at Washington State, Iowa, and USC from 1972 to 1994. In fact, he walked with Dr. Martin Luther King in 1963 and still has the original copy of King’s “I Have A Dream” speech that King handed to Raveling upon completion of his address to the 250,000 people that showed up to the “March on Washington.” He is often credited for introducing Michael Jordan to Sonny Vaccaro who ultimately signed with Nike. Raveling remains a trailblazer for his experience as a color commentator for CBS and Fox Sports, his time with USA Basketball coaching Michael Jordan alongside Bob Knight, and for his experience as Nike’s global sports marketing director. The Naismith Hall of Famer is still a mentor to many people and profoundly respected to this day.