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.
Bobby Kennen, North Florida | The former Ocala, Fla. native played at Palm Beach Atlantic from 1989-93, and spent time as a high school coach and a junior college assistant before spending one season at Wichita State and five at Jacksonville under Hugh Durham. He was also at Campbell under Robbie Laing, and then joined Matthew Driscoll’s staff in 2009 before being elevated to associate head coach in 2012.
“Bobby is the most detail-oriented, forward-thinking and all-in person I’ve been around — who wears his heart on his sleeve while always making sure that when he speaks, it’s powerful and respectful. His loyalty to our program from every aspect is unwavering and genuine to the core.” – North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll
“Does a great job at identifying a ‘UNF kid.’ Hard place to get kids in. They develop kids as well as anyone in the league.” – Atlantic Sun assistant
Brad Soucie, Liberty | He played two years at EMU and two at San Diego Christian. Soucie has been an assistant at Portland State, Colorado State, Oregon State and New Mexico, and also was the director of player development at Virginia before coming with Ritchie McKay to Liberty five years ago.
“Brad is one of the best listeners I’ve ever met. He has a great pulse in what a team needs in a given moment in time.” – Liberty coach Ritchie McKay
“Coach McKay’s right-hand man. Touches every phase of the program. Extension of McKay’s voice.” – Atlantic Sun assistant
Roger Idstrom, Lipscomb | The 1989 Mars Hill College grad had been an assistant at UNC Asheville, Wabash Valley College and Gardner-Webb before spending more than a decade on the Belmont staff. Idstrom joined Casey Alexander’s staff at Lipscomb in 2013 after two years at Stetson, and stayed on with Lennie Acuff after Alexander left for Belmont a year ago.
“Roger is the ultimate professional. He’s a man of the highest character and integrity who is passionate about helping our players grow in every facet of their life. Every program that he has been a part of has enjoyed unparalleled success and he is a huge reason why. We are so fortunate to have Roger on our staff. He challenges me every day to be a better leader and, most importantly, a better man.” – Lipscomb coach Lennie Acuff
“Got Lipscomb going three years ago, and kept them together during transition and was a big part of their growth this year.” – Atlantic Sun assistant
Derek Johnston, Liberty | The Alabama native started his coaching career at Lexington High (Alabama) and also spent time as an assistant at Williams College in Massachusetts and at Alabama-Huntsville under Lennie Acuff. Johnston joined Liberty’s staff in 2018.
“Derek is an elite teacher, hard worker — and is a Swiss Army knife. He does everything well in our program.” – Liberty coach Ritchie McKay
“Helped tweak offensive schemes that made Liberty more versatile and harder to guard. Behind-the-scenes grinder in recruiting.” – Atlantic Sun assistant
Dan Bere’, Jacksonville* | The Indiana grad spent four years as a manager under Mike Davis, and started as a graduate assistant at IPFW before being elevated to director of basketball operations and assistant under Dane Fife. Bere’ remained on staff with Tony Jasick, spent one season as a basketball analyst at Butler in 2013-14, and came with Jasick to Jacksonville in 2014.
“Dan is highly intelligent and has an amazing gift for connecting with people. He’s a willing worker who isn’t above any task. Our players love him.” – Jacksonville coach Tony Jasick
“Analytical mind who thinks outside the box. Tony Jasick’s right-hand man and played a big role in his success both at IPFW and Jacksonville.” – Atlantic Sun assistant
Bruce Evans, North Florida* | The former Furman standout was a head coach at Lander from 2004-09, and also an assistant at Furman, Presbyterian and Gardner-Webb before his first stint at UNF from 2009-12. He then left for four years to become the director of player development at Georgia Tech before returning to North Florida in July of 2016.
“Bruce is the complete package, beginning as a man and ending as a coach committed to every aspect of his life. He never gets rattled, is always processing and extremely considerate of everyone at all times — including his on-point sense of humor. His passion to not be served, yet serve others with all his heart is an amazing quality that has been a cornerstone of our program.” – North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll
“True professional and a huge reason for UNF’s success. Well connected and good relationship builder in recruiting.” – Atlantic Sun assistant
Jeff Rafferty, NJIT** | The Springfield College grad has coached at the Division I, II and III levels in his career. He was an assistant at Union College and Springfield College, as well as UNH and Delaware in the D-1 ranks. He came to NJIT in 2016 after nine seasons at Delaware.
“Raff has been around the college game for a long time and really knows how to navigate the D-1 landscape. Jeff keeps a great pulse on what’s happening with our team and around the game in general.” – NJIT coach Brian Kennedy
“Tireless worker. Has played a key part in their recruiting and is a great basketball mind.” – Atlantic Sun assistant
*Three-way tie for fifth place.
**NJIT just joined the America East Conference.