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.
Sharif Chambliss, Wright State | The Wisconsin native spent three years playing at Penn State and then transferred to Wisconsin for his final season in 2004-05. He has had coaching stints at UW-Platteville and Francis Marion University, and he also served as Milwaukee’s academic advisor. He was at Wisconsin as the video coordinator for one year, then spent four as an assistant at Milwaukee before joining Scott Nagy’s staff in 2016.
“Sharif has been a huge asset to our staff because he immediately puts people at ease when he meets them. He is a rare recruiter that can go into any environment and be comfortable. The players respond well to him because he is such a positive person.” – Wright State coach Scott Nagy
“Sharif has a unique ability to foster relationships. You can say when it comes to Sharif, he has never met a stranger. This ability allows recruits and their families to be very comfortable with him.” – Horizon League assistant
Brian Cooley, Wright State | Cooley played at Nebraska Wesleyan in the first half of the 2000s and spent the 2006-07 season as an assistant at Bellevue East High (Nebraska) before joining the South Dakota State staff as a grad assistant (2007-09). Cooley was an assistant coach at South Dakota State from 2009-16, when he decided to go to Wright State with Scott Nagy.
“Brian is the perfect assistant coach because he loves the game like nobody I’ve worked with. He also loves all the work associated with being a coach and is a tremendous teacher of the fundamentals. On top of all of that, he is incredibly organized, which takes a huge load off my shoulders.” – Wright State coach Scott Nagy
“Wright State is always near the top of the league because they recruit well and are well-prepared each game, and Brian has been a major part in that [with him] being (Scott) Nagy’s right-hand man for so long. Brian is someone who has been a big factor in the success at WSU and has a great eye for talent.” – Horizon League assistant
Paris Parham, Milwaukee | The Chicago native played two seasons at Lincoln College and two at Minnesota State. He began coaching at Minnesota State, serving as a graduate assistant in 1996 before spending five seasons (1997-2001) as an assistant. He was an assistant at Maryland-Eastern Shore (2002-04) before becoming a high school head coach in Chicago — two seasons at Phillips Academy (2005-06) and one at Morgan Park (2007). Parham spent five seasons under Tim Jankovich at Illinois State, another five under John Groce at Illinois and then joined Pat Baldwin’s staff in 2017.
“Paris is an excellent person first and foremost. He has an eye for talent, is very well connected in the profession and very good on the floor with players. He sees the game in a different lens, which is valuable, and has a head coach’s perspective on the sideline.” – Milwaukee coach Pat Baldwin
“Paris is a guy who is prepared for every situation and helps you think outside the box. His knack for seeing the game from every angle is rare. [Him] also being able to break down game plans and strategies for the players to digest is off-the-charts [impressive]. When it comes to recruiting, he’s second to none. I also love his ability to connect with players on and off the court. Also, he brings grit and a certain type of toughness to a program.” – Horizon League assistant
Dee Brown, UIC | Brown was a McDonald’s All-American coming out of Proviso East in Chicago, starred at Illinois in the 2000s and spent most of his pro playing career overseas. He retired in 2015, returned to his alma mater as a special assistant to the athletic director and also served as the director of player development and alumni relations for men’s basketball. Former coach Steve McClain hired Brown as an assistant at UIC in 2017, and he was retained by new coach Luke Yaklich.
“Has a great feel for the game and is a great teacher on the court! Competes as a coach just like he did as a player!” – Former UIC coach Steve McClain
“Dee is a rising star in this business. His individual on-court skill development and his ability to relate to his players are assets that set him apart.” – Horizon League assistant
Eric Haut, Northern Kentucky* | Haut played at Kent State, graduating in 2004, then worked as a graduate assistant at Western Kentucky. He then became director of basketball operations at Kent State in 2005-06 before being elevated to assistant coach from 2006-08. He was at TCU for three years as an assistant (2008-11) before returning to Kent State in 2011. Haut joined Northern Kentucky in May of 2019.
“Eric is a tireless worker that has all the attributes of an elite assistant coach that is ready to become a head coach. He is an outstanding teacher that excels in player development. He has been invaluable in our game prep and in-game coaching, and he has a proven track record of good recruiting evaluations and signing players.” – Northern Kentucky coach Darrin Horn
“Tremendous person who can recruit and relate to players from different backgrounds. I’ve spent a lot of time talking basketball with him and he’s very knowledgeable. I could see him as a head coach in the near future.” – Horizon League assistant
Rob Summers, Cleveland State* | The Gahanna Lincoln High standout started his college career at Penn State (2002-04) before transferring to West Virginia and playing for John Beilein. Summers, who was also a graduate assistant at West Virginia, started his coaching career at Glenville State (2011-13), then spent a season at James Madison (2013-14) as the director of basketball operations before a three-year stint as the head coach at Urbana University. Summers was an assistant at JMU (2017-19) for two years before being hired at Cleveland State in 2019.
“Coach Summers will be a Division I head coach. He is passionate about the game of basketball, he provides the authentic love necessary in developing young people and possesses an undefeated work ethic. He comes from great basketball pedigree having played college ball for John Beilein at West Virginia and beginning his coaching career as a graduate assistant for Bob Huggins. Standing 7-feet tall and having played the position his entire life gives Coach Summers a competitive advantage in the area of post development. The second area that makes him great is his ability to teach on and off the court. He has an offensive mind, a very high basketball IQ and exceptional communication skills. Lastly, he is great at building relationships within our campus community and nationally. He is a star.” – Cleveland State coach Dennis Gates
“He has a good way about him, high-character, and has helped turn the culture of the program around quickly. Rob Summers is someone who is very knowledgeable about the game and very well connected in the basketball world. He is always willing to help however he can.” – Horizon League assistant
*Two-way tie for fifth place.