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.
Kyan Brown, North Dakota State | He played at Oral Roberts from 1998 to 2001 and then began his coaching career as an assistant at Arkansas-Fort Smith (2002-04) before going to Missouri State (2004-08). He went back to his alma mater as the recruiting coordinator before being elevated to assistant coach prior to the 2012-13 campaign. He was at ORU for eight years before joining the North Dakota State staff in 2016.
“Kyan’s energy and passion for life and the game of basketball are infectious. He’s been an invaluable asset for our guys and a major part of our successes the last couple of years.” – North Dakota State coach David Richman
“Kyan has a great work ethic and is an outstanding relationship builder! He’s just one of those guys that can, and does do it all. I think he’s the best assistant in the league and one of the best in the country.” – Summit League assistant
Rob Klinkefus, South Dakota State | Klinkefus graduated from Division III Buena Vista University in 2000, took a job as a coach at Storm Lake St. Mary’s High for the 2000-01 season and then worked as an assistant at his alma mater from 2001-06. Klinkefus was a graduate assistant at South Dakota State in 2006-07 and was promoted to assistant coach by Scott Nagy the following season.
“His loyalty to South Dakota State and ability to connect with student-athletes is really special. He also is incredibly calm and makes great adjustments during in-game situations. SDSU is lucky to have a guy as loyal as Coach Klink!” – South Dakota State coach Eric Henderson
“He’s been at South Dakota State through all of its success and it’s no secret that he’s a huge part of why the program has been so good. He’s a heck of a coach and does a great job developing their guys.” – Summit League assistant
Russell Springmann, Oral Roberts | The Silver Spring, Md. native graduated from Salisbury State in 1990. He was an assistant at his alma mater for a couple years before becoming the head coach at Mardela High. Springmann worked for Billy Donovan at Florida from 1996-98 before spending 14 years as an assistant at Texas for Rick Barnes. Springmann spent two seasons as an assistant at San Diego (2015-17) and worked one season for the Oklahoma City Thunder before joining ORU in 2018.
“Russell genuinely cares for players and is committed to helping each one on and off the floor. He is phenomenal at building relationships with players and recruits, is a strategic tactician, has a great attention to detail as a teacher, has extensive contacts and experience at the collegiate and NBA levels. He has elevated every program that he has had the chance to impact because of his commitment to players and their families.” – Oral Roberts coach Paul Mills
“Russ has been around a long time and has great relationships on all levels and it shows because ORU’s talent has gotten better in his time there. His experience at the high-major level is seen in how ORU plays and you can see a culture of winning being established. Russ is a well-respected guy and is a future head coach.” – Summit League assistant
Pat Eberhart, Omaha | The Colorado native starred at Adams State. He spent three years as an assistant at Colorado Christian from 1995-97 and then became an assistant for the then-University of Southern Colorado from 1997-2001. He was an assistant at Colorado State from 2001-05 and the head coach at Colorado State University-Pueblo from 2005-11. He joined the Omaha program in 2011.
“Pat is first and foremost loyal to his head coach, staff, student-athletes, our athletic department, university and community. He’s a tremendous evaluator in recruiting and has high-level skills in building relationships with PSAs and their families. A tireless worker in developing players through skill development. Makes them better overall, as well as in our system.” – Omaha coach Derrin Hansen
“Pat is very well-respected in our league, not only as a guy who gets it done in recruiting, but has a great feel for the game. He holds his guys accountable while obviously maintaining a great relationship with them. Pat has a lot of relationships in this business and will continue to bring in good players.” – Summit League assistant
Gameli Ahelegbe, South Dakota* | Ahelegbe played at Minnesota State and graduated in 2007 before becoming the club director and trainer for 43Hoops Basketball Academy in Minnesota from 2007-10. He was also an assistant coach at Minnesota State from 2009-10, spent the 2010-11 season at Concordia College (Minn.), spent three seasons at North Dakota (2011-14) and joined the South Dakota staff in 2014.
“He has a great relationship with our players, is a great family man and person. He works extremely hard and loves coaching young men. Coaching and teaching young men — and not just about basketball, but life.” – South Dakota coach Todd Lee
“Gameli is a veteran in the Summit League. He’s a coach with an eye for talent that has been getting it done for years! He knows how to recruit, develop players and build strong relationships both on and off the court.” – Summit League assistant
Bryan Petersen, South Dakota State* | The 2009 Iowa State graduate was a grad assistant with the Cyclones for three years (2009-12) before spending one year as an assistant and then six seasons as the head coach at Kirkwood CC. Petersen joined Eric Henderson’s staff at South Dakota State in 2019.
“Bryan’s success as a junior college head coach has been extremely valuable as he transitioned to the Division I level. He has great connections [in] recruiting and is very attentive to detail. He is also top-notch when it comes to skill development.” – South Dakota State coach Eric Henderson
“Bryan has done a phenomenal job of recruiting and developing players. He’s only been with the program for a couple years, but it hasn’t taken him long to make an impact.” – Summit League assistant
*Two-way tie for fifth place.