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Rutgers men’s basketball coaching staff undergoing changes

Jerry Carino reported several moves on Wednesday for Steve Pikiell’s program.

Iowa v Rutgers Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images

The Dean of the Rutgers men’s basketball beat, Jerry Carino, reported on Wednesday regarding several moves taking place within Steve Pikiell’s coaching staff this offseason. It was reported by multiple sources recently that Greg “Shoes” Vetrone was in the mix for the open assistant position at St. John’s and Carino was the first to confirm that he was hired for job.

Vetrone was an assistant coach at Rutgers for the last two seasons of the Eddie Jordan era and served as Director of Player Development since Pikiell’s arrival the past five years. Shoes was instrumental in the recruitment and development of Corey Sanders, as well as served as a steadying presence for Sanders and other players in the transition from Jordan to Pikiell. He was well liked and respected within the program. The former FDU head coach and longtime assistant is extremely well connected across college basketball and was a great resource for Pikiell. The opportunity to be a recruiting assistant again and to reunite with another former Rutgers assistant, Van Macon, at St. John’s is well deserved. No word yet on his replacement.

In addition, Carino reported that Pikiell has made a change with his own assistants. TJ Thompson was elevated from Director of Basketball Administration to an assistant coach, replacing Steve Hayn. A third move involves Ben Asher leaving his post as Director of Basketball Operations and Recruiting to become an assistant coach at Youngstown State.

Thompson was a First Team All-Atlantic 10 Conference selection and four-year starter at George Washington when current Rutgers assistant Karl Hobbs was head coach there. In addition, Pikiell as an assistant coach at GW during Thompson’s playing days. Thompson previously co-founded the D.C. Blue Devils, the AAU program in New Hampshire that Geo Baker played for. After serving as program director and head coach for six years there, Thompson joined Pikiell’s staff two years ago.

There is no official word on Hayn, but it appears he is staying on with the program in some capacity. He previously served as a senior adviser to Pikiell in his first three seasons at Rutgers before replacing former assistant Jay Young when he left to become the head coach at Fairfield two years ago.

Lastly, Asher came to Rutgers as Pikiell’s special assistant in 2016 and was elevated to manage recruiting and basketball operations two years ago. He was previously recognized by the National Association of Basketball Coaches in being included as one of 30 of the most outstanding men’s college basketball coaches under the age of 30. Asher is a rising star who played a key role on Pikiell’s staff.

One side effect in winning is that the profile of key personnel are raised and become sought after by other programs. Shoes and Asher were valuable staffers for the program but both leaving for promotions is a positive reflection of what Pikiell has built at Rutgers.

Pikiell has been able to retain Hobbs and Brandin Knight as assistant coaches throughout his tenure at Rutgers despite both previously pursued by other schools. That stability will be key for next season. With that experienced above him, Thompson taking the third spot adds a trusted, up and coming coach who has strong connections in the New England AAU circuit. He is well versed in the culture of the program and the current roster knows him well, which should allow for him to hit the ground running in his new role. He presumably will work with the big men, as Young and Hayn did previously.

Once replacements for Vetrone and Asher, as well as Hayn’s new role, are reported or announced by Rutgers, we will provide an update on the Rutgers coaching staff.