assistant coaching hires

Robert Casey/Weber State Athletics

Former Weber State, D-League assistant Phil Beckner joins Nebraska coaching staff

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With the departure of Rashon Burno, who arrived from Florida following Billy Donovan’s move to the NBA, to join Bobby Hurley’s staff at Arizona State, Nebraska head coach Tim Miles had a spot to fill on his coaching staff. Saturday it was announced by the school that Miles has found his man, with Phil Beckner officially joining the Nebraska coaching staff.

Beckner has experience at both the Division I and NBA D-League levels, as he spent seven seasons at Weber State before joining the Oklahoma City Blue coaching staff last season. Beckner not only helped Weber State establish a recruiting presence within Texas (he was also key in the team’s play defensively), but he was also instrumental in the development of players such as NBA lottery pick (and 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year) Damian Lillard.

And Lillard was among those who spoke highly of Beckner via Twitter once the news of him joining the Nebraska coaching staff became official.

“I believe hiring Phil Beckner will help our program immensely,” Miles said in the release. “I have known Phil for years – meeting him out on the recruiting trail. I have a great deal of respect for his ability to recruit, coach and develop players in all areas of their lives.

“As strong as he is as a coach, he’s a better person who truly cares about the young people he works with. I can’t wait to get him started working for the Huskers!”

Beckner will look to help Nebraska rebound from a disappointing 2014-15 season, with senior guard Shavon Shields (15.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg) being the team’s leading returning scorer and rebounder. The Huskers will take a preseason trip to Spain, which runs from August 13-23.

Former Chattanooga assistant to join UAB coaching staff

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One week after losing Richie Riley, who joined Brad Brownell’s coaching staff at Clemson, UAB head coach Jerod Haase has reportedly found a replacement.

According to Gene Henley of the Chattanooga Free Press, Turner Battle will fill the vacancy on the UAB coaching staff. Per the report, Chattanooga head coach Will Wade announced the departure of his assistant on Friday. Battle, who played collegiately at the University at Buffalo, joined Wade’s staff at Chattanooga last spring after spending the prior six working under Reggie Witherspoon at his alma mater.

“Turner was a high-level player and is a high-level person,” Wade said at the time of Battle’s appointment. “His experience on the court as a student-athlete, and his proven ability to coach and recruit makes him the perfect addition to our staff. I could not be happier that he agreed to be a part of bringing ‘Chaos’ to Chattanooga.”

Battle joins Robert Ehsan and Jeff Wulbrun as assistants on Haase’s staff, and interestingly enough he’ll see his old boss during the 2014-15 season. UAB visits Chattanooga on December 22.

Former College of Charleston assistant joins staff at The Citadel

Chuck Driesell, Tom Koopman
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With the offseason turmoil that ultimately led to the College of Charleston relieving Doug Wojcik of his head coaching duties, assistant coach Ryan Freeberg was one name mentioned when it came to who would replace Wojcik with the start of practice rapidly approaching. The College of Charleston went in another direction however, bringing in Clemson assistant Earl Grant to get things headed in the right direction.

Freeberg moved on in the aftermath, and on Wednesday it was announce that he’s joined Chuck Driesell’s staff at The Citadel as an assistant coach. Freeberg joins the Southern Conference program after spending two seasons at the College of Charleston, so there’s some familiarity with the conference he’ll be coaching in given the fact that last year was Charleston’s first in the CAA after leaving the SoCon.

“I am excited that we have added Ryan Freeberg to our basketball staff,” Driesell said in the release.  “He comes to us highly recommended with great experience and knowledge in both the recruiting and basketball phases of the game. He has worked hard in the profession and has developed a strong reputation amongst his peers and I am confident he will come here and be a great asset to our basketball program and The Citadel.”

While it certainly wouldn’t be classified as a “trade,” Freeberg’s move to The Citadel comes on the heels of a staffer heading in the opposite direction. J.D. Powell, who was an assistant on Driesell’s staff for the last five seasons, is now on Grant’s staff at the College of Charleston.

Clemson’s Brad Brownell officially fills staff vacancy following Earl Grant’s departure

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With Earl Grant accepting the head coaching job at the College of Charleston less than two weeks ago, Clemson head coach Brad Brownell had a vacancy to fill on his staff ahead of the start of practice in early October. Richie Riley, who spent the last two seasons on Jerod Haase’s staff at UAB, was officially announced as Clemson’s newest assistant on the heels of multiple reports that he was expected to be the addition.

“Richie Riley is an outstanding young coach with a track record of success,” Brownell said in the release. “He has worked his way up the coaching ladder by having a passion for the game of basketball. This is shown in the way he recruits and builds relationships with student-athletes and coaches. He has a very bright future in this business, and we’re excited to add him to our program.”

Prior to joining the UAB staff Riley served as an assistant at both Eastern Kentucky and Coastal Carolina, with those Division I stops being preceded by a three-year stint at NAIA school Pikeville College in Kentucky. Also of note regarding Riley is the fact that he was invited to take part in the Nike Villa 7 program.

Nike Villa 7 connects assistant coaches believed to be on the rise in the profession with other coaches and athletic directors, the very people who could hire them in the near future as head coaches.

Former Temple great returns to join Fran Dunphy’s coaching staff

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Temple head coach Fran Dunphy has added an assistant to his coaching staff, and the addition is very familiar with the tradition of Temple basketball. Aaron McKie, who played three years at the school under John Chaney, was officially announced as Dunphy’s newest assistant on Thursday. With McKie on board Dave Duke, who was an assistant last season, moves into the role of director of player development.

During his three seasons as a player at Temple, McKie scored 1,650 points and was a member of three NCAA tournament teams. He currently ranks sixth on the school’s all-time scoring list. With McKie’s storied career at Temple, not to mention a lengthy NBA career, his voice will be an important one as the Owls look to rebound from what was the worst season in school history (9-22 record).

“Aaron McKie is not only Temple Basketball, but he is Philadelphia Basketball,” Dunphy said in the release. “His name still resonates in the city, as he played his high school, college and professional ball in Philly.  He is a tremendous representative of Temple University and possesses an astute basketball mind which will serve to help the program in so many ways.”

The expectation throughout the spring was that a Temple alum would be joining Dunphy’s staff, with the person in question being Rick Brunson. One reason that was expected to occur was the fact that Brunson’s son Jalen is one of the best players in the Class of 2015, and Temple is one of the finalists on Jalen’s list. However that potential hire fell through, with Rick running into legal trouble in July.

McKie is a good hire, given the experience mentioned above. In addition to Chaney he also played for Larry Brown, with Brown being the head coach of an Allen Iverson-led Philadelphia 76ers team that reached the NBA Finals in 2001. During that season McKie was named NBA Sixth Man of the Year, and he played eight of his 13 professional seasons in Philadelphia.

If McKie can use his experience to help the current Owls develop into better players, the program shouldn’t endure another season like the 2013-14 campaign.

New Delaware State head coach fills out coaching staff

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New Delaware State head coach Keith Walker, whose interim tag removed in mid-April, has filled out his coaching staff with three hires being made official by the school on Thursday. Joining Walker at the MEAC school are assistants Keith Johnson, Kevin Washington and Alex Stone, with Johnson serving as the program’s assistant head coach.

“I’ve known Keith Johnson for more than 25 years, and have a great deal of admiration for his knowledge of the game,” Walker said in the release. “He has been mentored by two of the greatest coaches of our time in Hall-of-Famer John Chaney of Temple and “Fang” Mitchell at Coppin State. Keith’s knowledge of the MEAC, along with his recruiting ties in the Delaware Valley and Mid-Atlantic regions, will greatly benefit our program.”

Johnson spent the last 13 years at Coppin State, and the hiring of Washington is another move that catches the eye. Prior to moving up to the Division I ranks Washington was the head coach at Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, North Carolina, and two of the players he coached during his time there are John Wall and T.J. Warren.

While getting players of that caliber to the MEAC school would be a stretch, maybe connections forged there can help the Hornets on the recruiting trail as they look to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005.