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Jon Coffman, Fort Wayne’s head coach, is part of the most unlikely coaching tree

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Coaching trees are a popular topic of conversation in the college ranks, a way to measure the aptitude of a coach’s ability to develop his assistants, not just as a way to develop his players.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski probably has the most famous coaching tree in college basketball, as a number of his assistants have gone on to high-major head coaching gigs: Johnny Dawkins, Mike Brey, Steve Wojciechowski, Chris Collins, Tommy Amaker, Jeff Capel.

Thad Matta has sent Brad Stevens, John Groce and both Sean and Archie Miller to bigger and better coaching gigs. During Larry Brown’s five-year stint at Kansas in the 80s, he had John Calipari, Bill Self, Mark Turgeon and Gregg Popovich on his staff.

The biggest coaching tree is college basketball is unquestionably Rick Pitino’s, who count nine current Division I head coaches – Tubby Smith, Mick Cronin, Herb Sendek, Kevin Willard, Marvin Menzies, Kevin Keatts, Steve Masiello, Reggie Theus and one Richard Pitino – as former assistants, not to mention Billy Donovan, who has moved on to the NBA.

 

You probably knew about most of those already.

What you may not know about is Bob Johnson’s coaching tree. You probably don’t even know who Bob Johnson. A former Army Ranger and the son of a four-star general that was the Chief of Staff of the Army, Johnson spent 27 years as the head coach at Emory & Henry, a little Division III program in the middle of nowhere in southwestern Virginia. He passed away in 2009 after a long battle with cancer.

It’s not a big program – as someone that played Division III hoops, I follow it fairly closely and had never heard of Emory & Henry – and it didn’t have a drastic amount of success. In 27 years, Johnson reached the NCAA tournament just five times.

But the coaches that developed under him have gone on to have quite a bit of success in their careers. Currently, there are five Division I head coaches that spent time on Johnson’s staff: Jamion Christian (Mount St. Mary’s), Nathan Davis (Bucknell), Jimmy Allen (Army), Mike Young (Wofford) and the most popular head coach in mid-major basketball today, Fort Wayne’s Jon Coffman. Coffman led his Mastadon program to a win over No. 3 Indiana on Tuesday night and then proceeded to go viral in his postgame interview when he gave a heartfelt thanks to Tom Crean simply for deciding to play the game.

“We Emory guys are proud of our start,” Christian said, and they should be. Emory, Va. is a town of roughly 1,200 people that just about doubles in size when school is in session. It’s a basketball program in one of the best conferences in Division III basketball with no recruiting base, no budget and, frankly, no reason to be any good.

And yet, here we are, in 2016, and Bob Johnson, the guy that built that program into something, has produced as many current Division I head coaches as the man that coached Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony to a gold medal in the Olympics.

One of them just beat the No. 3 team in the country.

And when one of Johnson’s coaching tree wins a game like that, they all celebrate.

VIDEO: Top 2018 recruits Zion Williamson and Romeo Langford go head-to-head at adidas

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This weekend is the first live evaluation period of the spring recruiting calendar as college coaches from all over the country are scouting (and babysitting) the top recruits in the Class of 2018 and 2019.

Friday night the adidas Gauntlet in Dallas opened with a marquee matchup of two star players as five-star forward Zion Williamson and five-star guard Romeo Langford went head-to-head in what should be one of the best games of the spring.

Most scouting services have Williamson and Langford as the No. 2 and No. 3 overall prospects in the Class of 2018 as the duo didn’t disappoint in front of the huge crowd in Fort Worth.

Williamson helped his team to a win with 26 points and seven rebounds while Langford had 28 points, four rebounds and four assists. You’ll be hearing plenty about both of these guys over the next few months as both are still wide open in the recruting process.

(H/t: Ball is Life)

Report: Coppin State hires Juan Dixon as new head coach

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Coppin State has hired former Maryland star guard Juan Dixon to be its next head coach, according to a report from Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun.

The 38-year-old Dixon is best known for leading Maryland to the 2002 national championship as he was the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four that year. Now Dixon will have a chance to lead a Division I program for the first time.

Dixon spent seven years in the NBA and also played professionally in Europe before joining the Maryland coaching staff in 2013 as a special assistant to head coach Mark Turgeon. Not retained by Maryland after the 2015-16 season, Dixon took the head coaching job for the women’s team at the University of the District of Columbia last season as the Division II program finished only  3-25.

Coppin State finished last season with an 8-24 record after losing its first 12 games of the season. While Dixon will generate some positive local buzz given his background, he’s going to have an uphill battle trying to rebuild that program.

Nebraska scores important Class of 2017 commitment from four-star guard Thomas Allen

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Nebraska landed an important commitment from the Class of 2017 on Friday as four-star guard Thomas Allen is heading to Lincoln next season.

The 6-foot-1 guard is considered the No. 99 overall prospect by Rivals in the national Class of 2017 rankings as Allen was previously committed to N.C. State before head coach Mark Gottfried was fired.

A scorer with a good amount of skill, Allen has a chance to come in and make an immediate impact at Nebraska as he can play a bit on or off the ball. Allen should help offset the loss of senior Tai Webster in the Husker backcourt.

Allen joins wing Nana Akenten in Nebraska’s Class of 2017 recruiting efforts.

North Carolina lands four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks

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North Carolina pulled in a late Class of 2017 commitment to begin the weekend as the Tar Heels secured a pledge from four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks.

The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Brooks was previously committed to Mississippi State, but he was granted his release this spring to explore other opportunities.

The Tar Heels pounced as they’re getting a low-post threat who could develop into a potential double-double threat. A solid rebounder who isn’t afraid to play with physicality, Brooks has a chance to earn some immediate rotation minutes with seniors like Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks exhausting their eligibility.

Brooks is regarded as the No. 120 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, according to Rivals, as he is a four-star prospect. The native of Auburn, Alabama joins a North Carolina recruiting class that includes point guard Jalek Felton, shooting guard Andrew Platek and big men Brandon Huffman and Sterling Manley.

Report: NCAA ‘anticipates’ hearing UNC case in mid-August

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Today, the AP churned out a story on Greg Sankey’s involvement with the NCAA’s investigation into the academic scandal at North Carolina, and buried within that story is this little nugget:

UNC must respond to the latest charges by May 16. The NCAA enforcement staff then has until July 17 for its own response. Sankey wrote that his panel will hear the case in August with “anticipated” dates of Aug. 16 and 17.

Rulings typically come weeks to months later.

We’ve been down this road before, as the current iteration of the Notice of Allegations is the third that the NCAA has provided the university. The first was given out back in May of 2015 for an investigation that began back in 2010.