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.
Ryan Badrtalei, UC Irvine | He graduated from UCLA in 2003, then spent two years as a varsity assistant and JV coach at his alma mater, Capistrano Valley High. He joined the UC Irvine staff in 2005, spent time as a video coordinator and the director of basketball operations, and was elevated to an assistant in 2009. He’s been an assistant for Russell Turner for the past decade and was named associate head coach this past May.
“Ryan is a future head coach because he grinds every day like he’s trying to make it. He’s really smart, and he’s obviously been a terrific recruiter. Just as important, he loves being in the gym working with players helping them get better, and he’s got a great sense for helping me balance the team’s and my own extremes. I’m fortunate he’s been with me the whole way here at UC Irvine.” – UC Irvine coach Russell Turner
“Measure of consistency, seems to have an imprint on the offense — in-game, now as well, calling plays and what not for one of the best programs in California. Has helped build them into the most consistent team in the league. They really develop guys.” – Big West assistant
John Rillie, UC Santa Barbara | The Australian played at Tacoma CC (Wash.) for one season before transferring to Gonzaga (1992-95). He then spent 16 years playing internationally before beginning his coaching career in 2009, where he was an assistant for both the Townsville Heat/Lightning U16 and North Queensland U16 teams in Australia. Rillie was hired by Leon Rice at Boise State and stayed at Boise from 2010-17 before joining the UCSB staff.
“John is the total package as an assistant, as he is involved in every facet of our program: recruiting, scouting, player development, offense and defensive strategy.” – UC Santa Barbara coach Joe Pasternack
“Rillie is the perfect combination of humble, hard-working, experienced as both a player and coach, smart, well-connected and competitive.” – Big West assistant
Kevin Nosek, UC Davis | Nosek played at UC Davis from 1996-99, and stayed on as an assistant to Brian Fogel from 1999-2003. He then got the head job at Menlo College and rebuilt the program in his three seasons at the helm. Nosek returned to his alma mater in 2006 under Gary Stewart and stuck around when Jim Les took over.
“Kevin Nosek is a second head coach. He handles every task within our program willingly and effectively. He can X and O, recruit and evaluate talent. He can relate well with our players, administrators and donors. He is a true servant leader.” – UC Davis coach Jim Les
“Been there forever and gets the most done with the least every single year. They have a great staff and Kevin is a huge part of that.” – Big West assistant
Jono Metzger-Jones, UC Davis | He played two seasons at Pacific in the early 2000s and then spent three years playing professionally in Europe. He began his coaching career in 2006 as Cal State Fullerton’s director of basketball operations and also spent four seasons (2007-11) at UC Santa Barbara. Metzger-Jones was hired by UC Davis in 2016 after five seasons (2011-16) as an assistant at Montana.
“Jono has a good basketball mind and feel for the game. He builds solid relationships with our players on and off the floor. Loves to out-shoot our players in post-practice shooting games.” – UC Davis coach Jim Les
“A players’ coach, an extremely connected recruiter, smart and has a very good basketball mind. His personality makes him adaptable in any environment both on the court and in recruiting.” – Big West assistant
Chris Gerlufsen, Hawaii | The Philly native played at Randolph-Macon in the mid-1990s. Gerlufsen got started in coaching as an assistant at Washington College in Maryland in 1998, then spent two years as an assistant at Southwestern before going to the Citadel (2001-06). He was an assistant at Hartford from 2006-15, including the last two years as the associate head coach, before going west. Gerlufsen was at San Diego from 2015-19 before joining Eran Ganot’s staff in 2019. He was the interim coach for the first 13 games this past season.
“Chris is a relentless competitor that can do it all! He is excellent in all areas on the floor — Xs and Os, game and practice prep, and player development. He is also a terrific and tireless recruiter. A total professional (character, work ethic) that everybody here loves — players, administration and the community. I have worked for great head coaches and with guys who have become great head coaches, and he is very much cut from the same cloth in terms of anticipating needs and constantly thinking about ways to improve the program.” – Hawaii coach Eran Ganot
“Experienced and has leadership qualities that shone through when he took over for (Eran) Ganot the first half of the year. Terrific offensive coach.” – Big West assistant