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.
Chris Markwood, Northeastern | The Maine native began his playing career at Notre Dame before transferring to Maine and graduating in 2005. He was an assistant at his alma mater for five years, spent three years at Vermont and then joined Bill Coen’s staff in 2014.
“Chris is everything you want in an associate head coach. First and foremost, he is elite at relationship building because of his compassionate, humble demeanor and personal integrity. When you combine Chris’ outstanding personal qualities with his extensive knowledge of the game, his ability to teach the game, and his great eye for talent, you simply have one of the best coaches in the country.” – Northeastern coach Bill Coen
“The most well-coached team in our league. Always prepared and never beat themselves. Have recruited good players in what isn’t a great situation. Love him because he just works and goes about his business. On point with scouts, recruits well and they do a great job developing talent.” – CAA assistant
Mike Farrelly, Hofstra | He graduated from Saint Joseph’s in 2003, started his coaching career at Wilkes University and also spent three years at the Hoop Group from 2007-10. He joined Joe Mihalich’s staff at Niagara in 2011, went to Hofstra with Mihalich in 2013 and was elevated to associate head coach in 2019.
“Mike Farrelly holds himself to a high standard like no one else. A self-motivated guy with a tireless work ethic and an endless amount of energy, he exudes excellence in every element of his job. He makes everyone around him better! Loyal and talented. He truly is the total package.” – Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich
“Integral part of Hofstra’s success over the last couple years, and has helped build their matchup zone defense, which is a big part of their identity. Energetic, strong communicator and is involved in all facets of their program, which has been at the top of the league in recent years. They’ve had [the] CAA Player of the Year three times since he’s been there.” – CAA assistant
Jonathan Holmes, Elon | The Indiana native played for his father, J.R., at Bloomington South High and played four years at North Carolina (1999-2003) before playing overseas for two seasons in England and Denmark. Holmes got into coaching in 2005 as an assistant at Montreat College, then spent 2006-09 at Francis Marion before becoming an assistant at William & Mary. He spent 11 seasons at W&M before joining Mike Schrage’s staff at Elon last year.
“Jonathan was my top recruit upon my arrival here. He brings tremendous experience, especially for our level, and knows our conference inside-out having coached in it now for 12 years. He makes us better in every way — and especially with his responsibilities on the offensive end and recruiting. He has such a continued bright future in our profession and should be a head coach himself before too long.” – Elon coach Mike Schrage
“Intelligent guy that recruits talented, high-character players. Knows the league as well as anyone. Has recruited very well to William & Mary over the years, which isn’t easy, and will do the same at Elon. Also knows the ‘Princeton’ offense inside and out from his time at W&M, which they have now implemented at Elon. Does a great job being in charge of Elon’s offense.” – CAA assistant
J.D. Powell, College of Charleston | The 2001 Clemson grad was a graduate manager at Furman from 2002-04, then was an assistant at Charleston Southern from 2004-10 and then at the Citadel from 2010-14. Powell stayed in Charleston and joined Earl Grant’s staff at C of C in 2014, and was promoted to associate head coach in 2019.
“J.D. has spent a lot of years building his skill set as a high-level assistant. He wears a lot of different hats and does well with any task or responsibility that comes across his desk. He’s been a part of our staff for six years and his loyalty really stands out. He’s very detailed and organized. I look forward to seeing how he continues to make an impact at Charleston by attracting talent and developing the guys that we have. He has an extremely bright future in this profession!” – College of Charleston coach Earl Grant
“Twenty years of experience at the college level, and is involved in all facets of the program. Charleston has become one of the top programs in the league in his time there, and they’ve had a few NBA-level players (Joe Chealey, Grant Riller and Jarrell Brantley).” – CAA assistant
Kevin Clark, Towson* | The 1981 Clark University grad is the fourth-leading scorer in school history. He was an assistant at Holy Cross in 1982-83, an assistant at Clark from 1984-87 and then the head coach at his alma mater from 1987-91. Clark then became an assistant at Fairfield (1991-94), George Washington (1994-98) and St. John’s (1998-2004). He then spent seven years with Jim Baron at URI (2004-11) before joining Pat Skerry at Towson in 2011.
“Kevin epitomizes what being a true professional is. He works hard, is loyal and performs any task that is asked of him. I’ve often told younger coaches to connect with him in order to learn the business.” – Towson coach Pat Skerry
“Very experienced and the team has been successful wherever he’s been.” – CAA assistant
Corey McCrae, Delaware* | He started his college playing career at Wagner before transferring to Fordham after two seasons. McCrae was an assistant at his alma mater, Maryland’s DeMatha Catholic High, for seven years (2009-16) before being hired by Martin Ingelsby.
“Corey is the total package as an assistant. He has a great feel for the game, excellent rapport with our players and is a relentless recruiter. He is passionate about his craft and is one of the best skill development coaches in the business. He’s a future head coach!” – Delaware coach Martin Ingelsby
“People in the league and in the DMV know exactly who Corey McCrae is. He’s an up-and-comer, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him as a high-major assistant soon.” – CAA assistant
*Two-way tie for fifth place.