What will Steve Pikiell do? That’s the big question following the news that longtime assistant under Pikiell, Jay Young, is leaving to become head coach at Fairfield. Here are some names of potential candidates that could fill the major void left in the wake of Young’s departure.
Greg “Shoes” Vetrone - An assistant at Rutgers under Eddie Jordan who has served as Director of Player Development the previous three seasons under Pikiell is a natural name to be considered. He has proven to be a solid recruiter in his career and was key in bringing and keeping Corey Sanders at Rutgers for three seasons. Shoes has been a solid member of the Rutgers staff this past decade and certainly has the experience.
Steve Hayn - Another in-house option that has served as a senior advisor to Pikiell the past three seasons, he also has 16 years of head coaching experience at lower levels within college basketball. He also was an assistant coach along with Pikiell at Central Connecticut State two decades ago.
Matt Eisele - The former director of recruiting for Steve Pikiell during his first two seasons at Rutgers served as an assistant coach at St. Peters this past season under new head coach Shaheen Holloway. He is certainly an up and coming assistant coach and Pikiell could chose to bring him back in that capacity.
Kelvin Jefferson - The current Old Dominion assistant served in the same role for Pikiell during his first two seasons as head coach at Stony Brook from 2005-2007. He was also head coach at prep powerhouse South Kent in Connecticut for seven seasons where he helped develop NBA draft picks Russ Smith, Moe Harkless, Ricky Ledo and Nik Stauskas. He joined the ODU staff three years ago and it’s possible he could reunite with Pikiell in the Big Ten.
Andre LeFleur - He served as an assistant at UNLV the past three seasons but is currently available as former head coach Marvin Menzies was let go in March. He has never worked for Pikiell, but he was an assistant under his mentor, legendary UConn head coach Jim Calhoun. He also played for Calhoun at Northeastern. LaFleur is a strong recruiter and is credited with helping to bring Hasheem Thabeet and Kemba Walker to Storrs. The program won two national titles with LaFleur on staff, who also worked for Ed Cooley at Providence before heading to UNLV.
Dan Rickard - He served as a longtime assistant for Pikiell at Stony Brook, before serving as associate head coach for the women’s team at that school before leaving for NYU last season. Although more of an offensive background, he would bring a trusted coach to the staff for Pikiell.
Lamar Chapman - Also a former longtime Pikiell assistant at Stony Brook, he has been in the same role at Northern Illinois since leaving that staff.
Brett MacConnell - Here is a rising star that doesn’t have any Pikiell connections, but is a New Jersey guy with Rutgers connections. MacConnell is a RU alum that has been an assistant at Princeton since 2013 and was promoted as associate head coach before last season. He is a strong recruiter and his father was a longtime athletic administrator at Rutgers.
This is a very important hire for Pikiell and he was certainly preparing for this moment whenever Young did eventually leave for a head coaching position. I definitely think Pikiell will hire someone with extensive experience at the Division I level as an assistant. While there are internal options, I expect Pikiell to explore external candidates more so. I think the most intriguing options I mentioned above are LaFleur, Jefferson, and MacConnell.
In regard to bringing in a top recruiter, LaFleur is the most proven at the highest level of college basketball, but all three of them have had success on the recruiting trail in varying degrees. Jefferson would bring the most continuity to Pikiell’s staff having previously worked for him and he has a great background. MacConnell would be an exciting hire and has the strongest relationships in recruiting New Jersey of the three. Of course, Pikiell could opt for an entirely different option as well. Whoever Pikiell does hire, it will have a big impact on the program moving forward. Stay tuned as any new develops in this assistant coaching search for Rutgers basketball.