Key assistant coaching hires

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Assistant coaches lay low and out of the spotlight most of the time, getting tireless amounts of work done to recruit and scout for upcoming games. This offseason saw a number of teams make nice additions to their staffs in the form of assistant coaches. While some guys on this list are connected recruiters, others are former head coaches who add a lot in player development, game planning or advance scouting. Here’s ten programs who made impact assistant coaching moves this offseason.

Bob Simon, Alabama: With Avery Johnson being new to the college game, the hire of associate head coach Bob Simon was invaluable to the Crimson Tide. With over 20 years of college coaching experience, Simon has been apart of successful stints as an assistant coach at Providence, Fairfield and Toledo. An associate head coach under Ed Cooley at both Providence and Fairfield, Simon has coached and developed some very talented players.

Brian Merritt and Rashon Burno, Arizona State: While Bobby Hurley was smart to bring Levi Watkins with him from Buffalo, he finished out his assistant staff with the hiring of two noted recruiters. Merritt just spent the past five years as the right-hand man of legendary basketball coach and trainer John Lucas, so he brings deep national connections to Tempe including players like Thon Maker and Mario Kegler. Besides being strong on the recruiting trail, Burno should help Arizona State’s guards develop much like he helped in previous stops at Florida and Manhattan.

Mark Phelps, Arizona: Although Arizona lost popular assistant Damon Stoudamire to Memphis, they replaced him with the experienced Phelps, who has been an assistant at places like Marquette, Missouri, Arizona State and N.C. State while also serving five years as head coach at Drake. Phelps knows how to recruit in the state of Arizona having been associate head coach for the Sun Devils at one point, and he should also aid Miller in every facet.

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Barry “Slice” Rohrssen and Matt Abdelmassih, St. John’s: The return of Chris Mullin is obviously the big news for St. John’s fans this offseason, but the addition of two Brooklyn natives — and strong recruiters — on Mullin’s staff should help the Red Storm quite a bit. Rohrssen, the associate head coach, brings over 20 years of coaching experience, including recent assistant stints at Kentucky and Pitt, as well as a head coaching stop at Manhattan. Abdelmassih is a St. John’s alum who did well recruiting transfers at his previous stop as an assistant coach at Iowa State. Both should bring talent into St. John’s and help with the rebuild.

T.J. Otzelberger, Iowa State: Steve Prohm has to be pleased that veteran Cyclone assistant T.J. Otzelberger decided to stay once Fred Hoiberg left for the Chicago Bulls. Otzelberger returns to Ames this season after a stint as associate head coach at Washington. Before leaving for Washington, Otzelberger spent seven seasons on the Iowa State bench as he was in charge of opponent scouting reports, game planning and recruiting some of the current roster before he left (Naz Long, Matt Thomas). Prohm’s transition to the Big 12 will be smoother thanks to Otzelberger’s experience with the program.

Damon Stoudamire, Memphis: Much like Otzelberger, former NBA Rookie of the Year Damon Stoudamire is returning to a familiar bench as he’s back at Memphis after a stint at his alma mater of Arizona. The Tigers and head coach Josh Pastner are thrilled to have Stoudamire back because he has a strong pedigree working with guards — which Memphis could use help with — and he’s popular with recruits because of his NBA background. Memphis has become a home to Stoudamire and his family because of his NBA career there so he’ll be happy to return to Pastner.

Jamal Brunt, Miami: One of the most underrated hires of the spring was Richmond associate head coach Jamal Brunt moving to Miami as an assistant. Brunt moved from Richmond’s director of operations up the ladder to associate head coach by recruiting high-caliber talent (Justin Harper) and coaching in a program that had a lot of success the last 10 years when he was there.

Chris Harriman, New Mexico: New Mexico was able to lure the Australian away from Nebraska as they gave Harriman the title of associate head coach. A noted recruiter with deep ties to Australia and New Zealand, Harriman worked under Rick Majerus at Saint Louis and Tim Miles at Nebraska, so he’s seen some unique head coaches during his time.

Jeff Battle, Providence: A veteran assistant who spent 13 years as Wake Forest’s associate head coach under three different coaches, Battle’s addition to the Providence coaching staff is a welcomed one. Battle is a noted recruiter and has also been lauded for developing talented point guards (Chris Paul, Jeff Teague, Ish Smith) and wings (James Posey, Josh Howard). Battle has also spent time at Xavier, Loyola (Md.) and Delaware State. It’ll be interesting to see Battle’s work with Kris Dunn this season.

Will Conroy, Washington: The addition of Conroy, a popular former guard, means that Washington’s recruiting fortress around Seattle only got stronger. A former pro in the NBA, D League and Europe, Conroy has a lot of recent pro experience and is young enough at age 32 to still be relatable to many players he’s recruiting. Conroy grew up playing ball with many of Seattle’s best hoopers (while also being impressive in his own right) and he’s very connected in the local basketball community.

Gonzaga’s Timme among five finalists for men’s Wooden Award

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES – Drew Timme of Gonzaga is one of five finalists for the John R. Wooden Award as the men’s college basketball player of the year.

He’s joined by Zach Edey of Purdue, Trayce Jackson-Davis of Indiana, Houston’s Marcus Sasser and Jalen Wilson of Kansas.

Timme took his team farthest in the upset-riddled NCAA Tournament with Gonzaga losing in the Elite Eight. Sasser helped Houston reach the Sweet 16. Purdue lost in the first round, while Indiana and Kansas were beaten in the second round.

The winner will be announced April 4 on ESPN. All five players have been invited to Los Angeles for the 47th annual presentation on April 7.

Also among the top 10 vote getters were: Jaime Jaquez Jr. of UCLA, Brandon Miller of Alabama, Penn State’s Jalen Pickett, Oscar Tshiebwe of Kentucky and Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis.

Voting took place from March 13-20.

South Carolina’s Dawn Staley will receive the Legends of Coaching Award during the ceremony at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

Indiana’s Teri Moren wins AP Coach of the Year

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

DALLAS – Teri Moren has led Indiana to some unprecedented heights this season.

The team won its first Big Ten regular season championship in 40 years, rose to No. 2 in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll and earned the school’s first No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Moren was honored Thursday as the AP women’s basketball Coach of the Year, the first time she has won the award. She received 12 votes from the 28-member national media panel that votes on the AP Top 25 each week. South Carolina’s Dawn Staley was second with eight votes. Utah’s Lynne Roberts received five and Virginia Tech’s Kenny Brooks three.

Voting was done before the NCAA Tournament.

“I think a lot of people were like this is going to be a year where Indiana is reloading, rebuilding, they won’t be as good as they had been the year prior. We were picked third in the Big Ten,” Moren said.

Moren was surprised by her team, who told her she won in an elaborate ruse.

“Anytime you can share it with people that made it happen. the staff, the players, the most important people who have been instrumental in the season and this award is special. I was speechless.”

Moren accepted the award at the Final Four, sharing the stage with AP Player of the Year Caitlin Clark to complete a Big Ten sweep.

The team has come a long way from when Moren was a young girl growing up in southern Indiana. She was a diehard fan of the Indiana basketball team. The men’s one that is.

She would attend men’s games with her family when she was a kid and was a big fan of coach Bob Knight. She has a constant reminder of the Hall of Fame coach in her office as a picture of his infamous chair-throwing incident hangs by the door. Moren said it’s the last thing she sees before heading to practice.

As far as the women’s team, they just weren’t very good. Times have changed, as Moren has built the program into a blue-collar team that focuses on defense and is a consistent Top 25 team the last few seasons, appearing in the poll for 75 consecutive weeks starting with the preseason one in 2019-2020. That’s the fourth-longest active streak.

Before that, the Hoosiers had been ranked for a total of six times.

“People still talk to me about living in Bloomington and they couldn’t afford a ticket to the men’s game. Not that they settled, but became women’s basketball fans. At that moment, you could walk in and find any seat you wanted and watch women’s basketball,” Moren said.

“There were 300-400 people in the stands, now to what it is today, it’s an unbelievable thing to watch it grow. Things you dream about to see fans and bodies up in the rafters.”

The Hoosiers had six of the school’s top 10 most attended games this season, including crowds of over 13,000 fans for the first round of the NCAA Tournament and 14,000 for the second round game – a shocking loss to Miami.

“It stings right now, but that last game doesn’t define our season,” Moren said.

AP source: Alabama’s Brandon Miller declares for NBA draft

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Alabama All-American forward Brandon Miller is heading to the NBA after displaying versatile talent and athleticism in a lone season of college ball that was blemished by revelations he was present at a fatal shooting in January near campus.

ESPN first reported on Miller’s decision, and a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed the report to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Miller hadn’t yet made an official declaration for the draft.

The 6-foot-9, 200-pound freshman, who was one of the nation’s top high school recruits, is projected as a potential top 5 draft pick.

Miller displayed his accurate 3-point shooting and athleticism in the most productive season of any freshman in Alabama history. He led the Tide to their first No. 1 ranking in 20 years and first No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed.

Miller averaged 18.8 points and 8.2 rebounds while hitting 38% from 3-point range. But he was scoreless in his first March Madness game, and went 3 of 19 and scored just nine points in a Sweet 16 loss to San Diego State.

Miller was described as a cooperating witness after the Jan. 15 shooting and was never charged with a crime.

But he and the Tide were dogged by off-court questions for the final two months of the season. Former Alabama player Darius Miles and another man were charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Jamea Harris, who was killed in early on Jan. 15.

Miller and fellow freshman Jaden Bradley were placed at the scene as well. According to police testimony, Miller brought Miles his gun. Miller’s attorney said the Tide forward was on his way to pick Miles up when Miles texted asking him to bring the weapon, but that Miller never handled the gun and didn’t know any criminal activity was intended.

Miller received threats after the news came out, and was accompanied by a university-provided security guard. “It doesn’t bother me,” Miller said of the threats at the NCAA regional in Birmingham, Alabama, “I send it to the right people and they handle it.”

Alabama finished the season 31-6 and won the Southeastern Conference regular-season and tournament titles.

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark wins AP Player of the Year

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DALLAS — Caitlin Clark has put together one of the greatest individual seasons in NCAA history with eye-popping offensive numbers.

Iowa’s junior guard, though, saved her best performance for the game’s biggest stage, recording the first 40-point triple-double in NCAA history to get Iowa to the Final Four for the first time in 30 years.

Clark was honored Thursday as The Associated Press women’s basketball Player of the Year. She received 20 votes from the 28-member national media panel that votes on the AP Top 25 each week. Voting was done before March Madness began.

“It’s a huge honor,” Clark said. “I picked a place that I perfectly fit into and that’s allowed me to show my skill set. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t mean something. It’s not the reason you play basketball, it’s just something that comes along with getting to do what you love.”

The Iowa coaching staff surprised Clark by sharing that she won the award while they were visiting the Iowa Children’s Hospital – a place near and dear to her. It also has huge ties to the Hawkeyes athletic department.

They put together a video of some of the children in the hospital congratulating Clark on an outstanding season, and in the middle of it, Iowa coach Lisa Bluder popped on the screen to tell her she won.

“I’m there for inspiring the next generation and being there for the people that you know are going through a hard time,” said Clark, who grew up in Iowa. “Being able to give joy to people that watch you play and watch your team play is amazing.”

She averaged 27.0 points, 8.3 assists and 7.5 rebounds during the season to help Iowa go 26-6. Clark has 984 points, the sixth-most in a season by any player in Division I women’s history. She also has over 300 assists.

“She is spectacular. I don’t know how else to describe what she does on the basketball court,” Bluder said.

Next up for the Hawkeyes is undefeated South Carolina in the national semifinals. The Gamecocks are led by Aliyah Boston, last season’s winner of the award. She garnered the other eight votes this season.

“There’s so many great players, more than just me and (Aliyah),” Clark told the AP. “You can go on and on and list the tremendous players. I think that’s really good for our game when there’s a lot of great players. That’s what is going to help this game grow more than anything else.”

Whether it’s hitting deep 3s from the Hawkeye logo at home games, hitting off-balance game-winning shots or throwing pinpoint passes to teammates for easy baskets, Clark has excelled on the court this year to get Iowa to a place it hasn’t been in a long time.

“It’s funny, because the better the opponent, almost the better she plays,” Bluder said. “It’s like she locks in on those, when we’re playing against Top 25 teams. That’s when her statistics even go up even more, against great opponents.”

Clark is the second Iowa player to win the AP award in the past few seasons, joining Megan Gustafson who won it in 2019.

UCLA guard Jaylen Clark declares for NBA draft

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES – UCLA guard Jaylen Clark has declared for the NBA draft, weeks after a leg injury forced him out of the season’s final six games.

The junior from Riverside, California, announced his plans on his Instagram account Wednesday.

“Thank you to UCLA and coach (Mick) Cronin for believing in me,” Clark’s post read. “I’d like to announce that I am declaring for the 2023 draft.”

Clark didn’t indicate whether he would hire an agent ahead of the June 22 draft or retain his remaining eligibility. He has until May 31 to withdraw and be able to return to Westwood.

He suffered a lower right leg injury in the regular-season finale against Arizona on March 4. Clark averaged 13 points and six rebounds while starting 29 of 30 games. He led the Pac-12 in total steals with 78, tying for third all-time in single-season steals for the Bruins.

He was a second team All-Pac-12 selection, was named the league’s defensive player of the year and made its five-man All-Defensive Team.

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