In this new series, we’ll be giving props to some of the best assistants in college basketball.
For each conference, I polled at least 20 coaches (primarily assistants) and asked for them to name the top assistant coaches in their respective league. Is it a perfect way of determining the elite assistants? Maybe not, but it seems far more accurate than any other method.
I’ve also made sure to include some info on each coach that’s recognized — as well as quotes from both their boss and another assistant in the league.
Kellen Sampson, Houston | He’s the coach-in-waiting at Houston when his father, Kelvin, decides to leave or retire. Kellen graduated from Oklahoma, was a grad assistant at Indiana for his father and then spent a couple years on Jeff Capel’s staff as a GA and the strength and conditioning coach. He was an assistant at Stephen F. Austin and Appalachian State, and has been with his father at Houston since 2014.
“Totally committed to student-athletes. Gets it. Smart, mature, gets along with everyone on the spectrum. Common sense and problem-solving skills. Genes from his mother!” – Houston coach Kelvin Sampson
“Very hard worker in recruiting and he does a lot with skill development.” – AAC assistant
Isaac Brown, Wichita State | Brown played at Mississippi Gulf Coast, Texas A&M and ULM. He started his coaching career at Pearl River CC from 1997-99, then went to Pascagoula High (Miss.) as an assistant, then Okaloosa-Walton CC before jumping into the D-1 ranks at South Alabama from 2002-07. Brown was an assistant at Arkansas from 2007-10, Arkansas State for a year, Louisiana Tech from 2011-14 and has been with Gregg Marshall since 2014.
“Isaac is a very hard-working, knowledgeable and loyal assistant coach. He is definitely prepared to run his own program.” – Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall
“Great recruiter and has done an awesome job at Wichita State.” – AAC assistant
K.T. Turner, SMU | Turner played at Hutchinson CC, UT Arlington and Oklahoma City University. He played professionally in Italy before getting into coaching. He was at Redlands CC and Panola Junior College before spending 2007-08 at Northern Arizona. Turner then worked at Cowley College, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Wichita State before joining the SMU staff nearly a decade ago.
“K.T. is the whole package. High-character, hard worker, great basketball IQ and great people skills. He will be a terrific head coach when given the chance.” – SMU coach Tim Jankovich
“He’s a stud. He works, he can really recruit and I think he’s a guy who is underrated as an X’s and O’s guy.” – AAC assistant
Tom Herrion, USF | His late father was a college coach, and his brother, Bill, is the head coach at New Hampshire. Tom graduated from Merrimack, then was an assistant at his alma mater before joining Pete Gillen’s staff at Providence and Virginia. His career record is 147-105 as a head coach at Charleston (2002-06) and Marshall (2010-14) — with an assistant stint at Pittsburgh (2007-10) in between. Herrion, who also worked for Jamie Dixon at TCU in 2016-17, has been with Brian Gregory at Georgia Tech (2014-16) and at USF since 2017.
“Tom thinks like a head coach, but grinds like an assistant trying to take the next step. He has had success as a head coach, so he recognizes things before they happen and knows what needs to be done. But most importantly, he still understands that ultimate success is based on coach-player relationships. He gets in deep with guys and builds strong, connected relationships.” – USF coach Brian Gregory
“Experienced former head coach. Strong across the board. Good X’s and O’s guy, wired recruiter who gets it.” – AAC assistant
Kevin Norris, UCF | Norris played for Leonard Hamilton at Miami in the 1990s and led the Hurricanes in assists for four straight years, and is also No. 1 in program history in steals. After playing overseas and in the ABA, he got into coaching at Tallahassee CC in 2007, spent two years at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, one at UNC Wilmington and two at Florida Gulf Coast before going with Andy Enfield to USC. Norris joined Johnny Dawkins’ staff at UCF in 2016.
“Kevin is the definition of a players’ coach. He relates well to the players on and off the court, imparting basketball and life experience on our players. Additionally, he is tenacious and very passionate about all aspects of his job. From dealing with prospective players and recruits to assisting our roster players via workouts or bench advice. Lastly, he is loyal. Loyalty may not directly affect wins and losses, but the basketball family each team cultivates depends on relationships and trust. This trust is crucial as we try to win games.” – UCF coach Johnny Dawkins
“They have had really good teams since Kevin got there. They had Duke beat in the NCAA Tournament two years ago, and he’s responsible for recruiting Florida.” – AAC assistant