The Top 3 Assistant Coaches in College Basketball

It seems the best learn from the best. And that was a major part of what I went for when looking at these assistant coaches. Coach K learned under Coach Bobby Knight, Billy Donovan learned under Rick Pitino, and a lot of people don’t know Rick Pitino was an assistant for one year under Jim Boeheim at Syracuse way back in 1976. That might be why his teams execute the 2-3 zone so effectively. I think it is essential to learn from the right person in any job field.


A young coach Boeheim with Assistant Coach Rick Pitino

I could keep going on with coaches learning under coaches, but I think you get the idea.

I didn’t just look at assistant coaches at big time schools though. I have been pretty good at judging coaches and their talent level. Remember I did one of the first stories on Brad Stevens in just his first year on the job.

But I have been wrong once or twice in my life…Well, maybe more, but I had a lot of help and guidance on selecting the cream of the crop.

These are 3 of the top assistant coaches right now in all of college basketball.

I was working on a list of the best, young and upcoming head coaches in college ball and these same 3 assistants kept coming up in conversations. I think these are the top 3 assistants out in the field right now with the most potential to lead a big time school in the near future.

Enjoy the article, and enjoy a great weekend of basketball and the big grid iron game on Sunday.

PS I think this will be a really good game on Sunday. The Pats and Brady are always tough on Any Given Sunday just like LL Cool J and Jamie Foxx, but don’t count out Pete Carroll, who was my favorite coaches to watch when he was at USC. Also a great guy! No prediction from me, I just want to see a great game!

The Top 3 Assistant Coaches in College Basketball

coach fife

Assistant Coach Dane Fife

Dane Fife Assistant Michigan State @CoachDaneFife

Coach Dane Fife is doing one of the things I believe all young men should do, he is training under one of the best in the business. I say all young men because this applies to all professions, go work from the best, learn from the best, and then you can become your best.

Dane is learning under Tom Izzo at Michigan State. Fife was formerly the head coach at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, and he did an above average job with minimal talent. I thought he might get a bigger head coaching job, but he was passed over. He made the right move to jump to MSU, and Tom Izzo is high on him.

Fife was also an assistant at Indiana University, where he played and led the Hoosiers to the Final Four, under then IU coach, Mike Davis.

A head coaching job is coming for Fife sooner than later, but Coach Izzo hopes it is later.

coach ragland

Assistant Coach Ragland

David Ragland Assistant Bowling Green State @Dragland1

Coach Ragland is an assistant at Bowling Green University and he was one of the top assistants in the whole Missouri Valley Conference while on the sidelines at Indiana State. Before Indiana State, Ragland was the head coach at Vincennes University, a member of the NJCAA.

In two season’s Ragland went, 44-19, and led the Trailblazers to the tournament finals going 22-10. Again I thought he might get a major head coaching job just for the work he was doing with minimal talent while at Vincennes.

It is quite obvious that Coach Ragland will be leading a major college team very soon. He has an outstanding knowledge of the game, and is a solid recruiter.

Greg Paulus Assistant Ohio State @Greg_Paulus

coach paulus

Greg is my third assistant to watch, and despite if you liked Paulus at Duke or you didn’t, Greg was a pick right out of Coach K’s recruiting book. A good overall kid, and a great athlete that a lot of people didn’t see. After graduating from Duke, Greg went to start at Quarterback at the University of Syracuse. Pretty incredible.

Coach Paulus is now doing what Coach Fife is doing, learning from one of the best in, Thad Motta. I think Coach Motta is a top tier coach despite some nitpicking on his lack of a National Championship. Plus playing four years under a coach like Coach K has a ton of benefits.

Coach Paulus did a brief stint as an assistant at Navy before joining the Buckeye staff in 2011. Keep an eye out for Greg heading a big time school in the near future.


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Official member of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association and host of Thru the Wire Sports Talk Radio. Avid Sports Fan that always wanted to be a sports authority, and here I am. @CatfishHughes on twitter and