Rising Coaches Elite

Rising Coaches Elite provides aspiring coaches valuable networking, learning opportunities

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While it doesn’t receive the level of attention that areas such as recruiting and player development do when discussing college basketball during the summer, the art of networking can be vital for those who are looking to improve their professional standing within the game.

That’s a relatively easy process for the coaches, as the three five-day evaluation periods give them a chance to not only observe players but also communicate with each other. While that could be simply a matter of catching up with old acquaintances, there’s also the ability to exchange ideas on a number of topics.

But what about those support staffers, the graduate assistants, directors of basketball operations and video staffers do since they aren’t allowed to hit the road (representing a school) during this period? That’s where Rising Coaches Elite comes into play.

Created by former Clemson basketball staffers Adam Gordon (currently director of operations at Mississippi State), Andy Farrell (assistant at Longwood) and Trey Meyer (assistant at Miami University), Rising Coaches Elite will hold its fourth annual conference in Las Vegas beginning Tuesday.

To read through NBCSports.com’s series on July’s live recruiting period, click here.

And the fourth edition will also include a Rising Athletic Directors Conference, an opportunity that wasn’t available the first three years.

“After all of the Rising Coaches conferences we’d sit down and ask all the attendees during an open panel discussion what they wanted to see and what could be done better,” said Farrell in a phone interview with NBC Sports.

“A lot of people mentioned, ‘what if an athletic director came to speak with us about what they expect from our position?’ So once [the founders] broke it down some more, we thought that since we’re doing this for the young coaches what if we could reach young aspiring athletic directors too?”

Also instrumental in the process of adding a conference for those who aspire to ultimately become athletic directors was Ben Rosenfeld, who is currently the director of sport administration for the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). This would ultimately lead to the formation of Rising Athletic Directors, and it can only help those involved on both sides of the process.

Aspiring coaches get to learn not only from those are coaching, but they also get to learn from athletic administrators while networking with the people who could very well determine whether or not they’re hired for a job down the line.

This year’s group will get to hear from head coaches such as Andy Enfield (USC), Kerry Keating (Santa Clara) and Pat Skerry (Towson) in addition to multiple assistants and college administrators. There’s also the ability to interact with other success stories, with Farrell being one of the many who have experienced success in their careers since participating in Rising Coaches Elite.

In addition to the current group of staffers throughout the country there are others, whether it’s your team managers or walk-ons who see little playing time, who hope to begin their coaching journey by landing a support staff position in the near future.

According to Farrell, there are a couple things an aspiring coach needs to do in order to successfully make the transition.

“First and foremost they need to let someone, a mentor, know that they’re looking,” said Farrell. “You’ve got to let your mentors know that you’re looking, because once they know then they can start using their experience, knowledge and network.

“The other thing I would suggest for them to do is work camps. Find any and every way to get to know the people you’re working the camps with and the program you’re working the camp for. Because while that may not get you a job right away, those are the connections and networking opportunities that will take you infinitely farther.”

Farrell also noted the need to continue to learn, whether it’s about the Xs and Os of the game or other areas that programs need to take care of in order to be successful. And given the number of participants who have gone on to enjoy success in their careers, it’s become evident that Rising Coaches Elite has been a positive factor in this regard.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.