It’s been nearly two weeks since former Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos announced his resignation. Many names have been brought up, one of them being Boston College assistant Scott Spinelli.
Spinelli’s coaching career has spanned nearly 30 years and he has gained a national reputation as a great in-game coach and one of the top recruiters in the country. He was an integral part of getting current Boston College stars Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson to come to the school and has been a big part of the Eagles’ turnaround in recent years under Jim Christian’s leadership. Impressively, Bowman and Robinson’s only scholarship offers were from Boston College. Now both players have declared for the 2018 NBA draft.
No Division I head coaching experience? No problem. The head coaches that took Siena to the NCAA tournament in past years came to the Saints from big time programs where they served as assistants that recruited top tier talent. Also, both of Siena’s past two head coaches served as head coaches before going to Loudonville, and it did not turn out well for either of them. Although this would be Spinelli’s first head coaching job at Division I, he has worked at big-name programs over the course of his career with stops at Nebraska, Wichita State, Texas A&M and Maryland before going to Boston College. His recruits include three current NBA players: Alex Len of the Phoenix Suns, Jake Layman of the Portland Trail Blazers, Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks. And let’s not forget about Boston College’s Bowman and Robinson who have declared for this year’s NBA draft. At every one of his coaching stops, Spinelli has proven to be a stellar recruiter. Identifying unsigned talent, developing it, and then sending it off to the NBA seems to be the standard for Spinelli.
“Coach Spinelli is one of the best coaches I’ve had. He has a great command and passion in his ability to recruit top level talent, but also develop and motivate that talent to reach its full potential. It’s exactly what he was able to do for me,” Khris Middleton said. “He’s one of the main reasons I’m able to fulfill my dream of playing in the NBA.”
Spinelli is perhaps closest with current Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon. He served on Turgeon’s staff from 2006-2014 at Wichita State, Texas A&M and Maryland. During that time, he was part of four teams that went to the NCAA tournament and two more that went to the NIT. While at Maryland, Spinelli was the architect behind several top 25 recruiting classes, one of which was ranked in the top 10 nationally.
“Scott is a terrific recruiter and teacher. He is very passionate and has a strong feel for the game. Scott has been successful at every stop and is more than ready to lead a program,” Turgeon said.
Another recognizable name that Spinelli has worked closely with is Barry Collier, the vice president/athletic director at Butler University and the man responsible for hiring Brad Stevens. As a coach Collier built the basketball program at Butler before moving on to Nebraska. The pair worked together at Nebraska from 2003-2006 and qualified for two NITs. Collier is one of the most respected names in college basketball and he speaks very highly of Spinelli as a person and a coach.
“The leadership part is being able to find students that fit ability-wise and character-wise. I think Scott (can do) both,” Collier said. “This is a whole thing about treating people the right way, and he does that.”
In addition to his previous jobs, Spinelli spent time as an assistant for American, Wyoming and Loyola-Chicago. He has done NBA work as well as he served as a scout for the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2000-01 season.
Siena has a lot of things that a first-time Division I head coach would want, four-year players, a passionate fan base, a highly supportive administration, and a win-now mentality. If they want to keep all of those things, get some of the best mid-major talent in the country, and contend for MAAC championships, Spinelli may just be the man for the job.