In this 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.
Jason Williford, Virginia | The Richmond native played for the Cavaliers in the early 1990s, then played overseas for a few years before getting into coaching. He started as an assistant high school coach at his alma mater, John Marshall High, and had a five-year stint at Boston University and a four-year stretch at American. He’s spent the last dozen years at Virginia — where the program has achieved unparalleled success.
“Jason Williford is the complete package. He played the game at a high level and really thinks the game well as a coach with very good in-game instincts. He knows how to push players and still encourage them at the same time, too. He’s done a terrific job recruiting and then developing many of our top players at UVA over the years. Best of all, he’s as loyal and trustworthy of a coach as you’ll find. It’s only a matter of time before he goes from associate head coach to leading his own program.” – Virginia coach Tony Bennett
“Great evaluator, terrific communicator and can really, really coach. He can do — and does it all. Tony Bennett obviously deserves a lot of credit for Virginia’s success, but Jason Williford has been a huge reason for it, also.” – ACC assistant
Stan Jones, Florida State | Jones has been at Florida State for nearly two decades, and has been integral to the program’s success. He began his coaching career in the 1980s at First Christian Academy in Memphis and then left for Jackson Academy in Mississippi. Jones was an assistant at Miami from 1995-2000 under Leonard Hamilton, went with Hamilton to the Washington Wizards in 2001 and then spent one season at Mississippi State before re-joining Hamilton in Tallahassee in 2002.
“Stan Jones is the longest tenured assistant coach in the ACC. His ability to teach and coach the game is unparalleled among coaches across the nation. His relationships with our guys and his ability to develop them into high-level, as well as high-IQ, players continues to be one of the incredibly important building blocks of our program. Stan is a trusted member of [our] staff who has helped build our program into a two-time ACC champion and a consistent national championship contender.” – Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton
“Stan has a wealth of basketball knowledge. He has been Leonard Hamilton’s right-hand man over the years while turning FSU into a national powerhouse program. The only reason he is not a head coach is because he hasn’t networked and self-promoted like other high major assistants.” – ACC assistant
Charlton Young, Florida State | The Miami native has been on Leonard Hamilton’s staff for the past seven seasons. The former Georgia Southern star point guard started his D-1 coaching career as an administrative assistant at Auburn, then was at Jacksonville from 1997-99 under Hugh Durham. He had two stints at Auburn (1994-97 and 2000-04), along with stops at Northeastern (2000), Chattanooga (2004-05) and Georgia Tech (2005-09) before landing the head job at GS, his alma mater, for four seasons.
“C.Y.’s success as a head coach and an assistant coach are illustrations of a man who has dedicated his career to the game of basketball. I have never been around a coach who can recruit awesome talent and coach them to achieve incredible success at the highest level while relating to them on such a personal level where they become members of his family. C.Y. is the total package. His abilities as an assistant coach have helped us win ACC championships and have put us in an excellent position to win national championships.” – Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton
“Has an energy and personality that kids and parents like. Has so many ties throughout the country, especially down South. Has a knack for finding kids — that aren’t always 4- and 5-stars — that are just the right fit for FSU.” – ACC assistant
Jon Scheyer, Duke | The Northbrook, Ill. native was a McDonald’s All-American and helped lead Duke to a national title in 2010. He played professionally overseas and in the D-League, but a serious eye injury ultimately led to his pro career ending prematurely. Scheyer joined the Blue Devils staff in 2013, starting out as a special assistant and moving up to his current role as an associate head coach in 2018.
“Jon is ready to be a head coach at the highest level. He views and feels the game at a different level and has matured into someone who is essentially another head coach within our program. His innate ability to relate to coaches, players and families will serve him well in his coaching journey, wherever that may take him. Simply, Jon is an outstanding basketball coach and we are fortunate he’s with us at Duke.” – Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski
“Feel. He has a really good feel about the game, people — and especially young people. Very good evaluator of talent.” – ACC coach
Dino Gaudio, Louisville* | The Ohio native graduated from Ohio University in 1981, and began his coaching career as Skip Prosser’s assistant at Central Catholic High in Wheeling, W.Va. He took over after Prosser left to become an assistant at Xavier, then Gaudio followed him to Xavier as an assistant from 1987-93. Gaudio was the head coach at Army from 1993-97, where he was 36-72, before taking over at Loyola (Md.) for three seasons and going 32-52. He then re-joined Prosser at Wake Forest, where he eventually replaced the late Prosser as head coach in 2007. Gaudio was let go after three years, two NCAA Tournament berths and a 61-31 mark. He worked for ESPN for eight years before joining Chris Mack’s staff at Louisville two years ago.
“Has been coaching for over 30 years and is a head coach in every way. Extremely valuable as a teacher of the game. He commands respect in every drill, every practice, every scouting report.” – Louisville coach Chris Mack
“As a former head coach, he understands and embraces the role of being a great assistant. Talking to him, you can tell he is thoroughly prepared and has put in the work whether it is scouting, recruiting or player development. All about the program, winning and doing a good job for the head coach.” – ACC assistant
Luke Murray, Louisville* | The Fairfield grad broke into coaching as the director of basketball operations for Tom Moore at Quinnipiac in 2007. He was a grad assistant at Arizona in 2009-10, became an assistant at Wagner for Dan Hurley in 2010 and went to Towson for two years before re-joining Hurley at Rhode Island. Murray was hired by Chris Mack at Xavier in 2015 and went with Mack to Louisville two years ago.
“He’s as hard of a worker as I’ve ever been around. Always looking to improve our team, his approach, his knowledge of the game. Does a terrific job of helping develop our players’ skill sets and feel for the game.” – Louisville coach Chris Mack
“Highly intelligent, well connected, and now a wealth of experience from grassroots to working for [coaches like] (Tom) Moore, (Sean) Miller, (Pat) Skerry, (Dan) Hurley [and] (Chris) Mack. Plus, give him credit for not just being a celebrity’s son but trying to deflect that and working to live his dream.” – ACC assistant
Chris Caputo, Miami* | The Westfield State product started as the video coordinator for Jim Larranaga at George Mason, sticking with Larranaga as an assistant coach at Miami. Caputo has been with Larranaga for the past 19 seasons.
“Chris Caputo is a fantastic coach. He’s a great recruiter. He’s an outstanding teacher. He has an incredible work ethic. Our players love him. I don’t know anyone who has a better network of high school coaches, AAU coaches, college and NBA coaches as friends. He has been my right-hand man for 19 years. He will make a great head coach one day.” – Miami coach Jim Larranaga
“Chris does a good job of connecting with people. Whether it’s one of the players at Miami or a high school coach, Chris makes people feel like he’s committed to building genuine relationships with them.” – ACC assistant
*Three-way tie for fifth place.