Villa 7 has been lauded since its inception in 2004 for the manner in which it has allowed some of the nation’s top assistant coaches to interact with athletic directors and learn what schools are looking for when hiring a head basketball coach.
The list of coaches who have attended the event and then gone on to earn head coaching jobs includes Anthony Grant (2006) and Buzz Williams (2006), Shaka Smart (2009) and Dave Rice (2011).
Michigan State assistant Dwayne Stephens, who attended his fourth Villa 7 conference earlier this month, hopes that the experience will pay off for him as well.
Stephens, who played at Michigan State under Jud Heathcoate (1989-93), has been an assistant on Tom Izzo’s staff for the last nine seasons and his work with the Spartan front court has been praised by many in the collegiate ranks.
But even with being happy at his alma mater there’s the itch to one day be able to run a program of his own, and the experience of Villa 7 is something that will prepare Stephens for that day.
Stephens also got a chance to look at video of himself going through a mock job interview, something he hadn’t previously seen.
Stephens said he doesn’t usually get a chance to see himself speak.
“I guess Coach (Tom Izzo) would because he’s always on TV and doing interviews, so he’d get a chance to see himself,” Stephens said. “When I watched myself, I was pretty pleased with how I did.
“If you’re going to be critical about something I would change, it would be to go more in-depth with some of my answers. Other than that, I thought I did a heck of a job.”
The opportunity to not just meet the people who do the hiring, but also pick their brains in regards to what they’re looking for, is a great one for assistants looking to take that next step.
Coaches such as Stephens look at the Villa 7 as a positive experience. All that’s needed afterwards is the opportunity to apply those lessons to their own program.