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While head coaches run college basketball programs across America from top-to-bottom, it is often the three assistant coaches that do a lot of the difficult day-to-day tasks. From scheduling, to running practices, to recruiting, there are a lot of valuable assistant coaches out there doing these jobs.
Some assistants are fine serving a head coach for much of their career while others jump from assistant job to assistant job before they get to run a program of their own as a head coach. Either way, many of these assistant coaches are valuable members to the basketball program.
Here are 10 difference-making assistant coaching hires from this offseason. Some of these guys help the head guy land talented recruits while others are good at developing talent and incorporating Xs and Os.
1. Keelon Lawson Sr., Memphis – Josh Pastner hired Keelon Lawson, Sr. to recruit his sons. The plan is working so far as K.J. Lawson and Dedric Lawson are both committed members of the 2015 class — after Dedric re-classified from the Class of 2016 and committed to Memphis. There are two younger Lawson brothers that are also reportedly very good prospects as well. If Pastner gets four top-1oo players from this hire, it’s a home run.
2. Rob Fulford, Missouri – The recent trend of prep school coach to college assistant coach continues as former Huntington Prep head coach Rob Fulford joined Kim Anderson’s new staff at Mizzou. This hire, along with keeping former assistant Tim Fuller, are two major recruiting-focused moves from Anderson and Fulford has already paid off with the 2014 commitment of former Huntington wing Teki Gill-Caesar. Fulford has proven he can recruit before at Huntington Prep and that should continue in the college ranks.
3. Kenny Johnson, Louisville – The former Indiana assistant left Tom Crean’s staff to replace Kevin Keatts (new head coach at UNC-Wilmington) at Louisville. With ties to Nike EYBL powerhouse Team Takeover, Johnson is a noted recruiter with a lot of connections on the east coast. Replacing Keatts, who did a great job recruiting at Louisville, will not be easy, but Johnson has the resumé to get it done.
4. Yanni Hufnagal, Cal – Hufnagel is one of the most highly-regarded recruiters of high-academic prospects in the country and Cal is getting an assistant coach who recruited high-quality players to Harvard and Vanderbilt. Cuonzo Martin has already reeled in 2016 wing Oscar Frayer at Cal, thanks in-part to Hufnagel, and the assistant has been a tireless recruiter getting Cal caught up in the 2015 class. Hufnagel has a lot of west coast connections, so this is a natural fit.
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5. Barry “Slice” Rohrssen, Kentucky – To replace former assistant coach Orlando Antigua after he took the head job at South Florida, John Calipari went to Pitt and hired a noted recruiter in Barry “Slice” Rohrssen. Slice helped get Mustapha Heron to Pitt in the 2016 class and has a lot of ties throughout the recruiting world that should open up doors for Calipari even more. Not that Kentucky needs help landing players, but Rohrssen is just another way to get a foot in the door of elite players.
6. Yasir Rosemond, Georgia – Rosemond isn’t as experienced or highly-touted as some of the others on this list, but he has a proven track record at Samford by recruiting two consecutive SoCon Freshman of the Year winners.
7. Barret Peery, Arizona State – The former Indian Hills head coach has a lot of experience at the junior college level and helped Herb Sendek re-load the roster with junior college prospects on the 2014-15 team.
8. Adam Cohen, Vanderbilt – Cohen has followed the trail that Hufnagel blazed the last two offseasons, going from Harvard to Vanderbilt, and he should be able to have the Commodores in the mix for some talented high-academic prospects.
9. Stephen Thompson Sr., Oregon State – New Oregon State head coach Wayne Tinkle needed another talented prospect to pair with his son, Tres, in the 2015 class so he added the father of a four-star guard. Now the Beavers have both committed and the future is brighter in Corvallis.
10. Ryan Miller, UNLV – Dave Rice hiring the experienced Miller is a good move. A former assistant at Auburn and New Mexico, Miller is a noted recruiter and should keep the talent pipeline flowing to Las Vegas.