The 15 Best Assistant Coaches in College Basketball

Daniel O'BrienFeatured ColumnistApril 25, 2012

The 15 Best Assistant Coaches in College Basketball

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    We all know John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Calhoun are among the best head coaches in college basketball, but who are the best assistants in the game?

    Assistant coaches are a vital part of the college basketball world. They break down film and help players behind the scenes. They do countless hours of recruiting and evaluating. Most importantly, they provide trustworthy advice on and off the court throughout the year.

    They basically do all the dirty work head coaches don't have time to do, taking care of every important detail to ensure the program runs smoothly.

    Here's a look at the top NCAA basketball assistant coaches in the nation.

15. Heath Schroyer, UNLV Rebels

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    If you're looking for a young coach with West Coast experience, look no further than UNLV assistant Heath Schroyer.

    The 39-year-old coach has served as an assistant or head coach on western teams since 1996. His preparation and assistance helped first-year head coach Dave Rice lead the Rebels to a 26-9 campaign in 2011-12.

    UNLV will soon benefit from Schroyer's recruiting prowess, and when they do, the squad will be the favorite to win the Mountain West Conference almost every year.

14. Russ Springmann, Texas Longhorns

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    Russ Springmann's inclusion on this list is mostly due to his fantastic recruiting.

    The longtime Longhorn has played a major role in the Texas' recruitment of 12 McDonald's All-Americans over the past decade. In many cases, he was the key recruiter and reeled in the big catch.

    His work to bring in players like Kevin Durant and D.J. Augustin are a major reason Texas has reached three Elite Eights and a Final Four under Rick Barnes.

13. Jim Corrigan, Old Dominion Monarchs

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    Fox Sports recently named Old Dominion assistant coach Jim Corrigan as the top assistant in the Colonial Athletic Association.

    Corrigan has spent nearly two decades on the Monarch's sideline, and the program has benefited greatly from his presence. He's guided the team to four NCAA Tournament appearances and three CAA titles.

    His most unique contribution might be his overseas recruiting. Corrigan has found talent from Australia, Lithuania, The Ivory Coast, Canada, Finland and Denmark.

12. Matt Graves, Butler Bulldogs

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    He's young, but Butler Bulldogs associate head coach Matt Graves knows the program well.

    He led the program to multiple NCAA Tournament bids as a player in the mid-1990s, and then helped lead them to back-to-back NCAA title games as a coach.

    During Graves' time at Butler, the Bulldogs have compiled a 217-89 record.

    He and head coach Brad Stevens built a program based on fundamentals and stingy defense. As a result, the team consistently contends for the Horizon League title.

11. Stan Jones, Florida State Seminoles

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    It's tough to give North Carolina and Duke a run for their money in the ACC, but with Stan Jones' help, the Florida State Seminoles have achieved that and more.

    During his tenure assisting Leonard Hamilton, Jones has gradually guided the team toward the top of the conference. The Seminoles went from a cellar-dwelling squad eight years ago to ACC tournament champs this year.

    The program has seen a drastic improvement in recruiting during Jones' decade in Tallahassee, and he's been able to maximize almost every prospect's potential.

10. Jayson Gee, Cleveland State Vikings

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    In its 83-year history, the Cleveland State basketball program has made a postseason tournament just seven times. Four of those appearances have come since 2006, when Jayson Gee became a part of Gary Waters' staff.

    He is now associate head coach, and his responsibilities are numerous. Here's an excerpt from his biography on CSUVIkings.com:

    Gee plays a significant role in virtually every aspect of the CSU program. On the court, he works with the Vikings post players while also assisting Coach Waters in developing game strategy.

    Off the court, he serves as the recruiting coordinator, is responsible for putting together the schedule and monitors the academic progress of the players.

9. Mike Dunlap, St. John's Red Storm

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    Mike Dunlap has coached all over the place throughout his career. He has experience at the Division II level, in the NBA and he's coached on the West Coast.

    Now he finds himself in the Big Apple, where he serves as Steve Lavin's assistant coach for the St. John's Red Storm. He took the reins of the squad for most of last season while Lavin battled prostate cancer.

    Dunlap is known for excellent in-game strategy and tactics, but he's also superb at developing individual players' talent.

    The Johnnies will be a tough out in the Big East as long as Lavin and Dunlap are teamed together on the sidelines.

8. Dwayne Stephens, Michigan State Spartans

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    No matter the size or talent of its roster, Michigan State is always above average on the glass.

    Much of that rebounding success can be attributed to assistant coach Dwayne Stephens, who works closely with the Spartans big men. Since he arrived in East Lansing, MSU has led the Big Ten on the boards six times and led the nation in 2009 and 2010.

    Stephens is also a master recruiter. Bleacher Report college hoops guru Doug Brodess listed Stephens as the seventh best recruiter in the country. 

7. Orlando Antigua, Kentucky Wildcats

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    After his stint with the Harlem Globetrotters, Kentucky assistant coach Orlando Antigua quickly became involved in some of college basketball's best programs.

    He helped Jamie Dixon direct the Pittsburgh Panthers to five stellar seasons before joining John Calipari in Memphis in 2008.

    Antigua then followed Calipari to Kentucky, where the two have teamed to earn a couple Final Four runs and an NCAA title.

    If Antigua and Calipari continue to dominate the world of recruiting, it will be a disappointment if the Wildcats don't make the Elite Eight or Final Four every year.

6. George Blaney, Connecticut Huskies

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    George Blaney might be in Jim Calhoun's shadow at UConn, but the veteran assistant also has 30 years of head coaching experience.

    This wealth of knowledge has been instrumental to the Huskies' success. Calhoun won the 2004 and 2011 national championships with Blaney at his side.

    Blaney's experience has also come in handy a couple of times during Calhoun's health-related absences. He's no stranger to calling the shots on the sidelines for the Huskies.

5. Steve Robinson, UNC Tar Heels

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    Prolific recruiter Steve Robinson has been part of Roy Williams' staff for 17 years, spending time in both Kansas and North Carolina.

    Robinson was responsible for recruiting a handful of future NBA Lottery picks, including Paul Pierce, Marvin Williams, Brandan Wright and Ed Davis.

    His work has been a pivotal piece to Roy Williams' success, as the their core coaching staff has reached three final fours and won two NCAA crowns.

    Robinson mainly works with the UNC guards, and he was crucial to the development of Ray Felton, Ty Lawson and Kendall Marshall.

4. Mike Hopkins, Syracuse Orange

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    Syracuse fans have enjoyed several elite guards over the last few years (Gerry McNamara, Johnny Flynn, Dion Waiters, etc), and much of their development can be attributed to assistant coach Mike Hopkins.

    His recruitment and individual work with Orange players have made Syracuse a perennial powerhouse in the Big East.

    He played for the 'Cuse in the early 1990s, and he's already been named as Jim Boeheim's successor, even though we don't know when Boeheim will retire.

3. Greg Gard, Wisconsin Badgers

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    Greg Gard has assisted Bo Ryan since 1993, back when the pair patrolled the sidelines at UW-Plattsville.

    Fast forward to today, and the tandem is in the same state but on a much bigger stage. They've made the Wisconsin Badgers a force in the Big Ten and one of the best-coached teams in the country.

    Gard is exceptional at teaching the nuances of the game to his players. Without his help, Ryan would have a much more difficult task implementing his swing offense and famously rugged defense.

2. Steve Wojciechowski, Duke Blue Devils

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    Few assistant coaches can get players to embrace the intangibles like Duke's Steve Wojciechowski.

    The former NCAA Defensive Player of the Year motivates the Blue Devils to excel on the defensive end and on the glass. He's also been the primary mentor to Duke's post players throughout the years.

    Mike Krzyzewski has benefited tremendously from Wojciechowski's help. Duke has amassed a 326-65 record, 10 ACC tournament championships and two national titles since he joined the staff in 1999.

1. Joe Dooley, Kansas Jayhawks

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    Kansas Jayhawks assistant Joe Dooley has been an assistant at the Division I level since 1988, so he's well-versed in guiding teams to the top of the NCAA pile.

    With Dooley's help, head coach Bill Self was able to emerge from Roy Williams' shadow and achieve something Williams failed to do at Kansas—hoist an NCAA trophy.

    How successful have Self and Dooley been since they joined the Jayhawks in 2003? They've won eight Big 12 regular season titles, five Big 12 tournament titles and the 2008 national championship. 

    Dooley's ability to lure talent to Lawrence and prepare the Jayhawks for every matchup has made him an invaluable part of the program.