Top Men’s Basketball Assistants: Big 12

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.

Jerome Tang, Baylor | He graduated from Charter Oak State College in 2007, and was the head coach at Heritage Christian Academy in Texas from 1993-2003 before being hired by Scott Drew in ’03. Tang has been a huge part of Baylor’s success, and was elevated to associate head coach in ’17.

“I am blessed because I truly believe Jerome Tang is the best associate head coach in the country. Anyone who has been around our program since we’ve been here knows we wouldn’t have accomplished what we have without him. Coach Tang is a natural leader, humble, energetic, high-character and a tireless worker. As a basketball coach, he is elite. Whether teaching offense, defense or special situations, motivating, scouting, skill development and recruiting, he is excellent in every facet. He truly has no weakness and is like a second head coach. Most of all, I appreciate him as a friend and a brother in Christ.” – Baylor coach Scott Drew

“Jerome is a consistent recruiter at a high level and has tremendous involvement in game planning.” – Big 12 assistant

Mark Adams, Texas Tech | The 1979 Texas Tech grad began his coaching career as the head coach at Clarendon College in 1981, then went to Wayland Baptist (1983-87), West Texas A&M (1987-92), Texas-Pan American (1992-97) and Howard College (2004-13). He was the director of basketball operations at Texas Tech from 2013-15, hired by Chris Beard at Little Rock (2015-16) and came with Beard back to Lubbock in 2016. He’s widely regarded as an elite defensive coach.

“Mark Adams is a winner. He has won at every level of college basketball as a head coach. Everyone in our program — myself included — benefits daily from Coach Adams’ experience, work ethic and his ability to form real relationships. Our players love him except after a missed box out.” – Texas Tech coach Chris Beard

“He’s probably the only guy that’ll be on the list that doesn’t recruit, but he’s been so valuable to Texas Tech and to (Chris) Beard because of his ability to run the defense. They have been so good on that end of the floor that he deserves it.” – Big 12 assistant

Carlin Hartman, Oklahoma | He starred at Tulane in the early 1990s and played in the CBA for a couple years before starting his coaching career at Rice (1996-97) and McNeese State (1997-98). He also had assistant stints at Louisiana-Lafayette (2004-05), Richmond (2005-08), Centenary (2008-09), James Madison (2009-10), Columbia (2010-14) and Rice (2014-16). He’s been at Oklahoma with Lon Kruger since 2016.

“Carlin is terrific in every way. Very genuine in his interest for the players, an outstanding teacher of the game and a people person with a broad network for recruiting. Absolutely ready to be a head coach.” – Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger

“He’s one of those guys who just does everything. He can recruit, he can coach and he knows how to connect with people.” – Big 12 assistant

Norm Roberts, Kansas | Roberts played at Queens in the mid-1980s and started his coaching career as a high school freshman coach and assistant varsity coach at Archbishop Molloy (N.Y.). He then spent time at Queens before joining Bill Self’s staff at Oral Roberts (1995-97). He followed Self to Tulsa (1997-2000), Illinois (2000-03) and Kansas (2003-04) before spending six years as the head coach at St. John’s (2004-10). He then joined Billy Donovan for one season at Florida in 2011-12 before re-joining Self at Kansas in 2012.

“Norm is a pro. He has experiences few assistants have had. Six years as St. John’s head coach. He’s a basketball junkie. He is a people person that can relate to everyone. His eye for talent that fits us here at Kansas is superb, and his first impression he makes is always tremendous. He and Kurtis (Townsend) and Jerrance (Howard) are the foundation to our success here.” – Kansas coach Bill Self

“Norm is a professional in every aspect of coaching from player development to scouting to how he interacts with other coaches, and top it off, he is a terrific husband and father. I have the utmost respect for who he is and how he does his job.” – Big 12 assistant

Larry Harrison, West Virginia* | Harrison graduated from Pittsburgh in 1978 and began his coaching career as a high school assistant coach — first at Henry Abbott Tech in Connecticut from 1978-79 and then at Jefferson High in Florida from 1982-84. He was an assistant at Hillsborough CC from 1984-86 before going into the D-1 ranks as an assistant at American (1986-89). Harrison had assistant stints at Cincinnati (1989-97) and DePaul (1997-2000) before becoming the head coach at Hartford from 2000-06. After a one-year scouting gig with the Washington Wizards, Harrison re-joined Bob Huggins in ’07 in Morgantown.

“Larry is a great basketball guy, hard-working, loyal, [has an] outstanding rapport with players and a great friend!” – West Virginia coach Bob Huggins

“He’s one of the most underappreciated guys in the business. Good at every aspect of the job. Elite talent evaluator and recruiter. Great at player development and relationships. Knows the game well and, most importantly, knows how to help make his boss successful.” – Big 12 assistant

Daniyal Robinson, Iowa State* | The Rock Island, Ill. native started his playing career at Indian Hills CC before transferring to Arkansas-Little Rock. He was an administrative assistant at Little Rock in 2000, and spent three years in that role before following Porter Moser to Illinois State and staying there from 2003-07. Robinson coached at Iowa State from 2008-10 before eventually returning to the school for a second stint in 2015 — this time under Steve Prohm. Robinson also coached at Houston and Loyola (Chicago).

“Daniyal is very prepared and beyond ready to lead his own program. He checks all the boxes: detail-oriented, passionate, a consummate professional, and he has a great basketball mind. D-Rob is an outstanding role model for our student-athletes, a strong man of character and a great family man. He’s had a huge impact on our program on and off the floor!” – Iowa State coach Steve Prohm

“Great personality, likable, persistent and always seems to be working.” – Big 12 assistant

*Two-way tie for fifth place.