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.
Jason Grunkemeyer, Ball State | The Cincinnati native was a standout at Moeller High and graduated from Miami University in 2001. He worked for Lorenzo Romar and Brad Soderberg at Saint Louis for six seasons, the first as the director of basketball operations and the last five as an assistant coach. He then went to Miami University (2007-12) and worked for the late Charlie Coles and then spent one year as athletic director at Talawanda High in Ohio before joining James Whitford’s staff at Ball State in 2013.
“It starts with his character and who he is as a person. Deeply respected by the players. Great knowledge and teacher of the game. Provides great value in every aspect of our program.” – Ball State coach James Whitford
“Jason has been a really good recruiter and has been the top assistant for Ball State — and [coached] one of the toughest defenses in the league for their 2019-2020 MAC West Championship. He’s got a great mind for the game and is at one of the better programs in the MAC West.” – MAC assistant
Anthony Stacey, (Formerly) Bowling Green | The Midview High product was the MAC Player of the Year in 2000 and wound up being Bowling Green’s all-time leading scorer with 1,938 points. He played professionally in Spain for a decade before getting into coaching. Stacey was the head coach at Medina High and Sandusky High before joining Michael Huger’s coaching staff in 2015. He left this past June to become the head coach at Ohio’s Whitmer High.
“Being a people person is a big reason Anthony Stacey was a very good assistant. He was able to relate to our players and other people throughout the community and university. He loves BGSU and understood the history of the program. It’s these characteristics that made him special.” – Bowling Green coach Michael Huger
“Anthony has a great presence and respect in the league. Was a great player at Bowling Green in his day and has tremendous credibility. They have recruited very well and have had great success in our league the last two years, and I think he’s played an important role in that.” – MAC assistant
Jeff Massey, Toledo | He graduated from Xavier in 1995 and spent four years playing professionally in France and Poland. He served one season as the director of basketball operations at Owens CC (2004-05), two seasons (2005-07) with Mark Schmidt at Robert Morris and then seven with Schmidt at St. Bonaventure from 2007-14. Massey left Olean and came to Toledo in 2014.
“Jeff Massey is the BEST mentor of young men that I have been around. He is a hard worker, detailed recruiter and a terrific mind and teacher of the game. He has been extremely important to our program! With his high character, experience and talent, he will be a very successful head coach in the future.” – Toledo coach Tod Kowalczyk
“Jeff has really excelled in recruiting and helped lead Toledo to [become] one of the best offensive teams in our league year [in] and year out. Has experience at a lot of levels and Toledo has had a lot of success in his time with Tod.” – MAC assistant
Dustin Ford, Akron | The former Ohio University standout began his coaching career as the head coach at Jackson High in Ohio from 2002-05. Ford then went to Western Carolina for three years as an assistant and recruiting coordinator. He’s been on John Groce’s staff for more than a decade — four years at Ohio as an assistant, five years as an assistant at Illinois and the past few seasons at Akron.
“Dustin’s strength is in his versatility. He has a great basketball mind and is really sharp when it comes to scouting, game management and player development. In recruiting, he evaluates well and is a very good relationship builder. All of his experiences have prepared him to be a successful head coach.” – Akron coach John Groce
“He’s very well-rounded as a coach. Can recruit, relate, game prep, and has been with John a long time and knows what they are trying to accomplish and complements him well.” – MAC assistant
Kevin Mondro, Eastern Michigan* | The Dover, N.H. native played at Detroit Mercy and graduated in 1997. He became the director of basketball operations at his alma mater from 1997-2000 and was elevated to assistant coach (2000-08). Mondro then went to Loyola Chicago (2008-11) and has been at Eastern Michigan since 2011, receiving the associate head coach tag in 2017.
“Kevin Mondro is the hardest-working and most loyal assistant coach in college basketball. Dro has made a huge impact in all areas of our program over the past decade.” – Eastern Michigan coach Rob Murphy
“Eastern is probably the hardest job in the league and Rob Murphy is underrated for the job he’s done there. Kevin has been there every step of the way and has been a stabilizing presence as they have had to reboot their roster multiple times, and still they remain a consistent presence despite the obstacles they face there.” – MAC assistant
Rob Fulford, Akron* | The 1997 Marshall grad began his coaching career as an assistant at NAIA Mountain State University from 1997-2000 and later became the head coach at Mountain State Academy from 2006-09. He then founded Huntington Prep in 2009 and spent five years as the head coach before leaving to become an assistant at Missouri (2014-17). Fulford has been at Akron since 2017.
“Rob is constantly in recruiting mode. He is very detailed and organized in his approach. In addition, his ability to communicate and connect well with people is a real strength in both recruiting and player development. He also teaches and coaches the game very well. Rob will be an excellent head coach.” – Akron coach John Groce
“Has really worked to get to where he is and continues to grind every day. Tireless recruiter who is underrated as a coach.” – MAC assistant
*Two-way tie for fifth place.