In what was becoming an increasingly less and less surprising announcement by the day, Marquette men’s basketball head coach Shaka Smart announced who his three assistant coaches are on Friday morning. Smart will be backed up on the Marquette bench this coming fall by Neill Berry, Cody Hatt, and DeAndre Haynes. In addition to those three assistants who are able to work on the court in practice with players as well as travel for recruiting purposes, Smart has hired Nevada Smith as special assistant to the head coach. Berry, Hatt, and Smith were all on Smart’s staff at Texas, while Haynes was an assistant coach to Mark Turgeon at Maryland this past season.
“This has a chance to be as good a staff as I’ve worked with,” Smart said. ”I am really excited about each coach’s fit with each other and the way they’ll dedicate themselves to our current and future players. Each brings a unique skill set to the program, but what they share is a commitment to relationships, growth and what goes into winning.
“Staff chemistry is extremely important to team cohesion,” Smart added. ”DeAndre, Neill, Cody and Nevada are all committed to working together to create team success and support our guys in every way possible.”
Neill Berry has been an assistant coach in Division 1 for 12 seasons. Before his three seasons at Texas, he had stops at Iowa State (three years under Steve Prohm, two as an assistant), High Point (three seasons under Scott Cherry), and South Carolina (four seasons under Darrin Horn, three as an assistant). Berry played Division 1 basketball at Southeastern Louisiana State when Billy Kennedy was the head coach, culminating his career with an NCAA tournament appearance in 2005 as a 15 seed and a loss to Oklahoma State.
Cody Hatt was at Texas for all six years with Smart, starting as a special assistant, switching after one year to Director of Basketball Operations, and then getting promoted to assistant coach this past season. He made his way to Texas with Smart after serving as a graduate assistant for Smart in his final year at VCU. Hatt was previously — and this is a wide spectrum of stuff — head basketball coach and assistant dean of students at Vermont Academy, a contributor to New England Recruiting Report, and a content editor for ESPN.
DeAndre Haynes was at Maryland for the past two seasons. He made the move to that end of the Big Ten after John Beilein skipped town from Michigan to go coach the Cavaliers. Haynes was at Michigan in Beilein’s final two years, helping guide the Wolverines to the national championship game in 2018. He was also an assistant coach at Toledo for a year as well as serving as an assistant coach at Kent State, his alma mater, for four seasons. In a whacky coincidence, Haynes was at Toledo for the one year when former Marquette forward Steve Taylor was on the active roster. Haynes was a four year starter at Kent State under head coach Jim Christian, making it to two NCAA tournament in his time there. He is still #14 all time in points there, as well as the program’s all time leader in assists and steals, and in 2006, Haynes became the first KSU player to ever win MAC Player of the Year. I think you should check out this Washington Post article on Haynes, as it pretty much exists only to talk about how Haynes builds relationships with recruits and players on his teams, and if there’s one thing we know about Shaka Smart so far, it’s that he believes in building relationships as the basis for everything else.
Nevada Smith has had a fascinating path to Milwaukee. 2020-21 was his one and only season in Austin with Smart, where he served as Texas’ Director of Program Development. Before that, he spent five years in the G-League as a head coach, first with the Rio Grand Valley Vipers from 2013-15 and then with the Sioux Falls Skyforce from 2016-19. Marquette will be just his second job at the Division 1 level, but Smith has an extensive history working at the Division 3 level. He was a head coach at Keystone College and SUNY Canton and had stops as an assistant coach at Ithaca College and Allegheny College. Smith was a four year starter at D3 Bethany College, where he ended his career as the program’s all-time top three-point shooter and helped the team reach the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years as a senior.
I don’t know how much Smart’s employment of Smith has to do with Smith’s history as a coach, but I would like to point you in the direction of this 2014 article from Grantland. Here’s the first paragraph:
“Let’s go!” Nevada Smith’s instructions are not complicated. A year ago, Smith, the coach of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Houston Rockets’ Development League affiliate, was leading the men’s basketball program at Division III Keystone College in La Plume, Pennsylvania. Now, the 33-year-old has been entrusted with running what amounts to Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s grand experiment, and all he wants is for his team to push the ball. Off turnovers, rebounds, made baskets, whatever — it doesn’t matter. “Let’s GO!”
Be advised, it is on the long side, but you get the idea.
According to the official team roster, Berry, Hatt, and Haynes all hold the job title of Assistant Coach, which is a change from how Steve Wojciechowski had two associate head coaches for the past few seasons. Those three and Smith join Program Assistant and former MU player Cam Marotta as the only members of the coaching staff.
Or, rather, the only members of the coaching staff for now. The MU press release announcing the hirings actually says “initial additions,” which could mean one of two things. It could just be “there is a new head coach who is making his first aka initial hirings” or it could be “there will be more people added to the 2020-21 coaching staff at some point down the road.” I lean more towards the second than the first, just because I would personally like to see a video coordinator and/or an analytics voice added to the staff. This absolutely could be the same person, much like Phillip Leibham is Director of Video & Analytics for Megan Duffy in the women’s basketball office.