Top Men’s Basketball Assistants: Big East

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.

Jeff Battle, Providence | The former Marshall point guard began his coaching career as a grad assistant at Delaware in 1986, then became the head coach at Caesar Rodney High (Del.) in 1988 before taking a job as an assistant at Delaware State in 1990. He was at Loyola in 1993-94, stayed with Skip Prosser at Xavier from 1995-2001 and then went to Wake Forest with Prosser. Battle was at Wake from 2001-14 before joining his good friend, Ed Cooley, at Providence in 2015.

“Jeff Battle is the professional of all professional college basketball coaches. High basketball IQ, high-character and integrity. He goes about his work quietly and aggressively. I’m proud to call J.B. more [of a] mentor to me than assistant coach. The players love him, the community loves him and I’m grateful for the knowledge he brings to our staff. He’s the total package.” – Providence coach Ed Cooley

“The consummate professional. Very organized, ‘in the trenches’-type dude. Knows basketball, how to build and maintain relationships with prospects, alumni, supporters AND administration. He is still a stud in teaching and relating.” – Big East assistant

Grant Billmeier, Seton Hall | The New Jersey native and former St. Patrick High School star played at Seton Hall from 2003-07 and then professionally in Germany and Portugal. Billmeier was the coordinator of basketball operations at his alma mater from 2010-13, the director of basketball operations for one season (2013-14), spent one season as an assistant at Fairleigh Dickinson in 2014-15 and then returned to South Orange as an assistant in 2015.

“Grant is one of the hardest-working assistant coaches that I’ve ever been around. He has an amazing enthusiasm to teach the game and I believe he is the best big man coach out there. He loves what he does and it reflects in how he teaches and how players love to be around him and taught by him.” – Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard

“Has a presence about him. Very knowledgeable about the game. Has done a great job at Seton Hall. Really good rep as an on-court coach.” – Big East assistant

Kyle Neptune, Villanova | The Brooklyn native played at Lehigh in the mid-2000s, and joined Villanova’s staff in 2008 as an administrative intern in charge of video. He left in 2010 to become an assistant for Joe Mihalich for three seasons (2010-13) at Niagara and briefly went with Mihalich to Hofstra before returning to ‘Nova in 2013 as an assistant coach.

“Kyle is intelligent, experienced, polished and gritty. He is an outstanding Xs and Os coach who has great game-planning and game-adjustment abilities. He is also one of the best individual development coaches we’ve had at Villanova.” – Villanova coach Jay Wright

“Kyle has grown into one of the top assistants in the country having recruited McDonald’s All-Americans, and upon his return to Villanova they went from a Top 25 program to one of the best programs in the country. He is respected in every gym he walks into, can teach the game and has developed into a leader with his recent efforts with Coaches For Action.” – Big East assistant

Dwayne Killings, Marquette | The Amherst, Mass. native and UMass walk-on graduated from Hampton in 2003. He then became the video coordinator for the Charlotte Bobcats and left after three years to join Temple’s staff as the assistant director of men’s basketball operations. Killings also worked for the NBA D-League before getting into college coaching, where he worked as an assistant at Boston University (2010-11), Temple (2011-2016) and UConn (2016-18) before arriving at Marquette in 2018.

“Dwayne is the total package! He knows basketball, is incredibly organized and thoughtful, and is as good at building authentic relationships as I have been around.” – Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski

“I think he does it all — recruiting, player development, great relationship guy. Checks a lot of boxes. Definitely head coach material. Has a presence about him.” – Big East assistant

Paul Lusk, Creighton | The New Baden, Ill. native spent two years playing at Iowa before transferring to Southern Illinois, and later played professionally before joining the coaching ranks. He was an assistant at Southwestern Illinois College and Missouri Southern State, and also the head coach for one season at the University of Dubuque. He spent one year on Matt Painter’s staff at Southern Illinois in 2003-04 before going with Painter to Purdue. He was in West Lafayette from 2004-2011 and then spent seven seasons (2011-18) as the head coach at Missouri State. Lusk joined Greg McDermott’s staff at Creighton in 2018.

“Coach Lusk is as well-rounded as they come in the coaching profession. He has a tireless work ethic in recruiting and the daily preparation required to maintain a successful program. On top of that, our players love him. He genuinely cares about their well-being, on and off the playing floor. We are fortunate to have him at Creighton.” – Creighton coach Greg McDermott

“Paul seems to be very involved with Creighton’s defense. They have gotten significantly better in his two years on the staff. He seems like he has a really good feel for the game.” – Big East assistant

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