Top Men’s Basketball Assistants: C-USA

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.

Ross Hodge, North Texas | Hodge spent two seasons playing at Paris Junior College before finishing at Texas A&M-Commerce. He then spent 2003-05 as an assistant at Texas A&M-Commerce before spending four years at Paris Junior College, the last three as the head coach. He was the head coach at Midland from 2009-11 and was 146-24 combined between Paris and Midland. Hodge then joined Larry Eustachy as an assistant at Southern Miss in 2011, went with Eustachy to Colorado State, then joined Grant McCasland at Arkansas State in 2016 and followed him to UNT in 2017.

“Coach Hodge is the best coach I’ve ever worked with. He’s got an elite feel for winning games, but his passion for practices sets him apart. A perfect balance of accountability and advocacy for players. He loves people with all his heart and does it for the right reasons. Ross will be a head coach and will win championships.” – North Texas coach Grant McCasland

“Hodge has spent three seasons under Grant McCasland at North Texas, turning in three 20-win seasons and a C-USA regular season championship this past season. In his three years with UNT, the Mean Green have had seven all-conference guys, and the C-USA Player of the Year (Javion Hamlet) this past season. They are a rock on defense and Ross has a lot to do with that. Excellent defensive coach.” – C-USA assistant

David Cason, FIU | Cason began his playing career at the College of Southern Idaho (1991-93) before spending his last two seasons playing for Kevin Stallings at Illinois State. He then started his coaching career as a student assistant under Stallings and was an assistant at Eastern Illinois (1996-99) before serving as the director of basketball of operations at Notre Dame in 1999-2000. Cason was the DOBO at North Carolina (2000-03), an assistant at TCU (2003-05), Tulsa (2005-11), Vanderbilt (2011-14), VCU (2014-15), Texas (2015-17) and Florida Gulf Coast (2017-18) before joining Jeremy Ballard at FIU in 2018.

“David Cason is an incredible coach who has thrived in every aspect of coaching and at every level of our profession. He is incredible at talent evaluation, excels at developing genuine relationships with players, is masterful in player development, and has an impeccable knowledge of the game. David is an assistant coach in title only as, from my perspective, he has been a head coach at FIU for the entire time he’s been on staff. He is past due for his head coaching opportunity and will be a star from day one when that chance comes.” – FIU coach Jeremy Ballard

“David’s coaching background and stops have afforded him a wealth of coaching and recruiting experience. He does a good job evaluating talent and helping their staff build a very competitive roster year after year. He has been instrumental in FIU’s big turnaround.” – C-USA assistant

Mark Cline, Marshall | The former West Virginia prep star was a four-year starter at Wake Forest from 1983-87. He began his coaching career as a grad assistant for Wake during the 1988-89 season. He was then an assistant coach under Jeff Capel Jr. at Fayetteville State (1989-93), at NC A&T (1993-94) and at Old Dominion (1994-99). He then spent four seasons as an assistant at Virginia Tech (1999-2003) before joining Jeff Capel III’s staff at VCU (2004-06) and Oklahoma (2006-10). Former Marshall coach Tom Herrion hired Cline in 2010.

“Mark is a top assistant that is a knowledgeable game coach with the ability to take over portions of practice. He’s very capable in all administrative work such as scheduling, is easy to work with and will help you win all golfing outings.” – Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni

“Strong recruiter and on-floor coach who is back home at Marshall. Experience working at so many different programs makes him a versatile recruiter and coach.” – C-USA assistant

Kotie Kimble, Charlotte | Kimble graduated from Coastal Carolina in 2007 and spent three years as an assistant at UNC Asheville on Eddie Biedenbach’s staff. Kimble was an assistant at William & Mary from 2011 to 2018 and joined Ron Sanchez at Charlotte in 2018.

“Kotie is an excellent extension to the head coach, and his attention to detail and ability to teach the game is one of his biggest strengths. His ability to build relationships and connect with people is a natural gift. He cares tremendously about our players, and is a man of integrity and high character.” – Charlotte coach Ron Sanchez

“Smart, intelligent and works. Kotie does a really good job helping with Charlotte’s offense. He brought over components from his time at William & Mary, and they turned that program around in a quick two years.” – C-USA assistant

John Richardson, Old Dominion* | He graduated from Elizabeth City State University in 1995, and began his coaching career as a JV high school coach at Woodside (1996-99) and T.C. Williams (1999-2000). He was also the head coach at Woodside (2002-05) before his first stint at Old Dominion. He was ODU’s director of basketball operations from 2005-08 and then an assistant from 2008-10 before becoming an assistant at Virginia Tech (2010-12). He then returned to Old Dominion in 2012.

“I joke with John that he is a pit bull. He knows the game, and his determination, enthusiasm and work ethic make him special. He is a teacher at heart and has an innate ability to forge meaningful relationships.” – Old Dominion coach Jeff Jones

“John Richardson has been a mainstay at Old Dominion. He has developed and recruited top talent over his time there and helped ODU reach the 2019 NCAA Tournament.” – C-USA assistant

Duffy Conroy, Louisiana Tech* | The standout basketball and football player at Davenport Assumption High played basketball at St. Ambrose University in Iowa. He was the director of basketball operations at Milwaukee for the 2000-01 campaign, spent two years (2001-03) as the video coordinator at Wisconsin before spending one season as the head coach and AD at Assumption High. Conroy went back to Wisconsin for one season (2004-05) as the director of basketball operations before spending the next decade as an assistant at Milwaukee. He joined Louisiana Tech in 2015.

“Duffy Conroy is a skilled teacher, has an eye for talent and brings the best out of people. He has an innate feel for the game and, most importantly, our players love him. He really cares and is passionate about helping them become their best. The guy is really good and we are fortunate to have him at Louisiana Tech.” – Louisiana Tech coach Eric Konkol

“Duffy has valuable experience [working] in programs and on staffs that have seen not only regular season success but, moreover, postseason exposure and success. He has been a key part of the winning consistency at Louisiana Tech.” – C-USA assistant

*Two-way tie for fifth place.

MORE: Stadium Ranks the Top Men’s Basketball Assistant Coaches