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.
Dalip Bhatia, Marist | Bhatia graduated from Rutgers in 2005 and then worked as a senior auditor at Deloitte LLP from 2005 to ’07. He was hired as an assistant at Kean University in 2007, was at Saint Peter’s from 2008-13 as an assistant and then went to Rutgers as the director of basketball operations from 2013-15, eventually being promoted to assistant coach prior to the 2015-16 campaign. Bhatia, the first known D-1 assistant of Indian descent, returned to Saint Peter’s in 2017 and went to Marist in ’18.
“Dalip has a work ethic that is second to none. He is knowledgeable and extremely passionate about his craft — both of which have been an asset for us on and off the court. His attention to detail and organizational skills are key ingredients for his success as an assistant.” – Marist coach John Dunne
“He’s just so prepared, and doesn’t leave any stone unturned. Can yell out your team’s action before you even get to it.” – MAAC assistant
Marlon Guild, Rider | The New York native graduated from Hartford in 2005, and has spent time coaching the Connecticut Basketball Club and also as a recruiting analyst for Rivals. Guild started as a college coach as an assistant at Eastern Connecticut State and then spent seven seasons at Saint Peter’s before arriving at Rider.
“What makes Marlon Guild a good assistant is that he’s a tireless recruiter and person who’s always working on his craft on and off the court. Great at player development and developing relationships with players and also coaches and AAU coaches.” – Rider coach Kevin Baggett
“Helped build two MAAC programs at Saint Peter’s and Rider. Team player who doesn’t self-promote. Higher-level schools should pluck him.” – MAAC assistant
Rick Callahan, Monmouth | The Syracuse native graduated from Salem College in 1980. He started his coaching career as a grad assistant in 1980 under Jim Boeheim at Syracuse. He spent six seasons with the Orange before going with Eddie Fogler to Wichita State, then he followed Fogler to Vanderbilt and South Carolina. Callahan was an assistant at Penn State for the 2001-02 campaign, then TCU for the next six years. He spent one season at Radford before joining King Rice at Monmouth in 2011.
“Rick is a veteran, lifetime coach. He understands the important role coaches play in their players’ lives, on and off the court. He’s a tireless worker that has experience in every part of college basketball. He builds relationships that go far beyond basketball. Ricky could be a head coach and I wouldn’t be able to help him as much as he helps our program.” – Monmouth coach King Rice
“He’s obviously been doing it for a long time, but he still works like someone who just got into the business. He’s got a big personality and has been a key to Monmouth’s success.” – MAAC assistant
Serge Clement, Marist | The 2009 Potsdam State graduate began his coaching career at SUNY Cortland as an assistant from 2009-11, then went to Adelphi (2011-13) before joining John Dunne’s staff at Saint Peter’s from 2013-18. He went to Marist with Dunne in 2018.
“Serge is an extremely effective and well-rounded assistant. He is a knowledgeable coach who relates well with the players on and off the court. He is a good recruiter that has a strong pulse on the recruiting landscape and the ability to foster and maintain positive relationships.” – Marist coach John Dunne
“Serge is an excellent evaluator of talent, a great people person and has a great feel for the game of basketball. He’s an excellent teacher and has tremendous work habits.” – MAAC assistant
Matt Grady, Manhattan* | He began his coaching career as a student assistant for Phil Martelli at Saint Joseph’s and graduated in 2001. He worked for three seasons on staff at Murray State for Mick Cronin, then followed Cronin to Cincinnati as the director of basketball operations in 2006-07. Grady was an assistant at New Mexico State in 2007-08, a special assistant at Louisville in 2008-09 and an assistant at Morehead State in 2009-10. He’s been with Steve Masiello at Manhattan since 2011.
“His relentless approach to scouting and game prep is a lost art in today’s game. He is as good as it gets at breaking down an opponent and finding their weakness.” – Manhattan coach Steve Masiello
“Matt is one of those guys who just gets stuff done, and he does it quietly. He’s not a self-promoter, but he’s been huge in Manhattan’s success over the years.” – MAAC assistant
Tom Pecora, Quinnipiac* | Pecora, 62, has a wealth of experience as both an assistant and a head coach. The Adelphi product began his career as an assistant at Long Island Lutheran High in 1984. He worked as an assistant at Nassau CC (1987-89), UNLV (1992-93), Loyola Marymount (1993-94) and Hofstra (1994-2001) before getting the head job at Hofstra from 2001-10. Pecora then spent five seasons as the head coach at Fordham (2010-15), and has been with Baker Dunleavy at Quinnipiac since 2017. He also served as head coach for SUNY Farmingdale from 1989-92.
“Tom’s experience running programs at the mid-major level combined with his strong recruiting ties in our region make him a vital piece of what we are building at Quinnipiac.” – Quinnipiac coach Baker Dunleavy
“Genuine, good dude who knows how to make things happen. Always has a trick, or two, left up his sleeve. Deserves another head job.” – MAAC assistant
*Two-way tie for fifth place.