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.
Kyle Cieplicki, Vermont | He’s been on the staff for the past nine seasons, and the Catamounts are 219-91 overall and 121-23 in league play during that span. He was promoted to associate head coach in 2015. Cieplicki was a three-year captain for Vermont from 2005-08, and was also an assistant at Brown for two seasons.
“Kyle has been a huge part of our success. As a player, you knew he was going to be a great coach. Hard working, intelligent and competitive. He has a bright future and I feel fortunate to have had him by my side the last nine years.” – Vermont head coach John Becker
“He’s a stud and has to be next in line up there. He calls most of the plays. Just a winner and smart as hell with game plans.” – America East assistant
Jon Iati, Albany | The former York, Pa. native and Great Danes standout spent four years on staff at Quinnipiac before returning to his alma mater in 2012. Iati was promoted to associate head coach in 2017.
“Jon has really grown and developed as a coach over the years. He is an excellent teacher of the game in a team setting and has made an impact in regards to individual player development. Jon is an effective recruiter and has enjoyed success recruiting high school, junior college, and transfers from all over the country.” – Albany coach Will Brown
“Jon’s done a great job finding and developing talent, both at the junior college and high school/prep levels. Proven winner, and he’s had a ton of success over the years. He’s done a great job working with their guards.” – America East assistant
Nate Dixon, UMBC | Dixon played at Gardner-Webb and started his coaching career in the D-2 ranks with Belmont Abbey and Queens before heading to Stetson. He spent two years on Billy Donovan’s staff at Florida before getting on the road at Louisiana-Monroe, Wyoming and Charlotte. He then joined Ryan Odom at Lenoir-Rhyne before following Odom to UMBC in 2016.
“Nate Dixon is the full package. He can coach, teach and scout the game, and he has been a vital part of our success at UMBC and Lenoir-Rhyne. Nate is in love with the game and is as connected throughout the country as anyone, which has helped us attract the right players for UMBC.” – UMBC head coach Ryan Odom
“He’s Ryan’s right-hand man and has instilled toughness and accountability to a program that was lacking it. He also does a great job game-planning defensively.” – America East assistant
Dan Rickard, Stony Brook | He played for the program from 2002-04, then stayed on as a grad assistant. He’s been an assistant during two different stints for the Seawolves, spanning more than a decade in total. He was also an assistant on the women’s staff from 2016-18, and spent a year as an assistant at NYU before re-joining the program in 2019. Rickard has worked for three head coaches: Nick Macarchuk, Steve Pikiell and Geno Ford.
“First and foremost, Dan is a great person. He can excel in many areas, which is what makes him so good at his job. He does an excellent job [in] recruiting, scouting, player development, and also with in-game adjustments. He is very deserving of recognition as he is simply a major asset for us, and is also one of the finest human beings you could ever be around.” – Stony Brook head coach Geno Ford
“Dan was an integral part of building Stony Brook into one of the best programs in the league. Excellent evaluator and has infinite knowledge of all the players and teams in the league. Terrific resource for Geno.” – America East assistant
Tom Devitt, Hartford | The Boston College alum joined John Gallagher’s staff in 2013 after 11 seasons as the head coach at Division III Wentworth Institute of Technology. Devitt started his career as the director of basketball operations for Jim O’Brien at BC, then was an assistant at American from 1997-99 before spending a year as an assistant at Wentworth, one as interim head coach and then 10 as head coach — where he became the school’s all-time wins leader.
“He’s detailed, he’s authentic, he has great humility, and he represents what is right about college basketball. No surprise that the three best years in school history are directly related to him being here.” – Hartford head coach John Gallagher
“Tom is a veteran coach that is well respected throughout New England. He’s a tireless recruiter, and assisted Hartford to the America East finals after losing all five starters.” – America East assistant