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10 college hoops assistants on the rise

Behind every great college basketball coach — or at least a really good one, there is an important assistant. Whether an elite recruiter, a top-notch scout or a tireless strategist who seems born to be a head coach, these guys tend to prove invaluable to their programs without receiving much fanfare.

As we open another college basketball season, it's a perfect time to look down the bench and find those assistant or associate coaches who likely have what it takes to run their own programs. Some might seem familiar, while others might fit the rising star category.

Here's our look at 10 assistants worthy of being head coaches sooner, rather than later.

Rashon Burno, Arizona State

It's no surprise that Burno found his way to coaching under Bobby Hurley with the Sun Devils.  The former DePaul guard prepped for Hurley's famous father, Bob Sr., at the famed St. Anthony's High School in Jersey City. Before going to Arizona State, Bruno was an assistant at Florida, where he helped mold talented Gators guards like Mike Rosario and Scottie Wilbekin. He's solidified his potential to take the next step by also garnering attention as a quality recruiter.

Chris Caputo, Miami (Fla.)

Caputo has been with head coach Jim Larranaga for nearly two decades. Perhaps that loyalty is why Caputo is not running a program, as he waits to replace Larranaga — if that's even an option down the road. He's considered to be a strong recruiter, and since becoming part of the program, the Hurricanes join Duke as the only teams to have a player drafted every season from 2016-2019. He's certainly somebody to keep an eye on.

Chester Frazier, Virginia Tech

Frazier is only 33, so he's got plenty of time to earn a head coaching gig. But he's certainly someone to keep in mind, as his stock continues to rise. The former guard played at Illinois under Bruce Weber and then was on the veteran coach's staff at Kansas State for seven seasons before joining the Hokies for this one. Lauded as a strong defensive coach and teacher, Frazier is obviously most comfortable working with backcourt players.

Jason Hart, USC

We don't often describe coaches as versatile, but Hart fits that description quite well. He's blossomed as a recruiter during his time with the Trojans, but brings plenty of passion and energy to practice and game day. According to the official website of USC basketball, the former Syracuse star was chosen to be part of the Collegiate Coaching Consortium, which helps in the development of young coaches who are deemed to have bright futures in the business.

Greg Heiar, LSU

While the LSU program has endured its issues of late and somehow coach Will Wade remains in charge, its coaching staff features one of the real up-and-comers in Heiar. After building up his resume and name at Wichita State, Heiar has blossomed as a recruiter with the Tigers but also played a key role in game-day coaching and strategy. Wade raves about Heiar in terms of player development, which could only bode well for his potential future as a head coach.

Tommy Lloyd, Gonzaga

Here is another assistant who has shown his loyalty over the years. Lloyd has been Mark Few's No. 1 guy for years, and if he's waiting to take over when it's time for Few to leave the Zags, then it all makes sense. Otherwise, Lloyd, who has had his chances to run a program, would probably seem a good fit to remain on the West Coast. Then again, Gonzaga is the premier program in the West. Arguably the best international recruiter in the college ranks, Lloyd is responsible for bringing the likes of Ronny Turiaf, Kelly Olynyk and Rui Hachimura to Spokane.

Erik Martin, West Virginia

Like Caputo and Lloyd, Martin is no stranger to loyalty. He's been by the side of Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins as a player for Cincinnati, an assistant coach at Kansas State and during the veteran coach's time in Morgantown. However, it's often been reported that Martin could be willing to strike out on his own as a coach and not be a potential successor to Huggins. Martin is well regarded as a strong developer of post and frontcourt talent.

Luke Murray, Louisville

OK, let's forget for a moment that this is the son of the legendary funnyman Bill Murray, Luke truly is a rising star on the assistant coaching scene. He's in only his mid-30s, so there's time. However, Murray continues to make a name for himself especially as a recruiter. He was an integral part in putting together a 2019 Cardinals class that was ranked among the top 10 in the nation. Murray has also been praised for his work with molding dependable perimeter players on both ends of the floor.

Ryan Pedon, Ohio State

Pedon continues to rise through the ranks from his days as a graduate assistant at Miami, Ohio, to an assistant at Illinois, over to Butler and back in the Big Ten with the Buckeyes. To say Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann is bullish on Pedon would be an understatement. Though it's uncertain what type of head coaching spot would be good for Pedon, one would think it would be some place in the Midwest, which has been the comfort zone of his career.

Jon Scheyer, Duke

Mike Krzyzewski is going to retire — eventually. Is Scheyer the Heir to the Blue Devils throne? It kind of seems that could be the case, but Scheyer appears set to have a head coaching job in the future, somewhere, if not Durham. The former Duke guard is a competitor who reportedly has a great rapport with Coach K's players. Scheyer also was a mentor to the likes of Tyus Jones and Luke Kennard during their time at Duke, and he would bring a hungry, yet stable, approach to any bench.


Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.

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