BIRMINGHAM — UAB head men’s basketball coach Rob Ehsan is a few steps closer to completing his coaching staff. Joining Ehsan and associate head coach Turner Battle is former UAB director of basketball operations and Wright State assistant coach Kevin Devitt, and former head men’s basketball coach at Xavier University of Louisiana Dannton Jackson.
Building a coaching staff is a bit like constructing a presidential cabinet. The commander and coach relies on a balance of youthful fresh ideas and experienced voices to execute the overall vision. Rob Ehsan and Turner Battle who are both 33 years old and Kevin Devitt who is 28 make up one of the youngest Division 1 basketball staffs in the country. With one assistant coach spot left to fill, Ehsan looked to the Crescent City.
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Jackson and Ehsan first met during a coaching roundtable hosted by UAB last year. Jackson, 46, compiled a 290-130 record as head coach of his alma mater Xavier University of Louisiana.
While at Xavier, Jackson was named Coach of the Year the past two seasons in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference of the NAIA. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is comprised of more than 250 colleges and universities.
These days college basketball coaches are not only responsible for their teams, but also cultivating youth athletes in their communities. Coaching camps offer a way for college staffs and their players to connect and mentor aspiring student athletes. Dannton Jackson is known for developing talent through his camps and and his individual skills improvement programs.
Per Dannton Jackson’s Skills Camp site:
He designs individual training regimens for professional and collegiate players during their offseason. Some of the NBA players he has coached are: DJ Augustin (Indiana Pacers), Glen “Big Baby” Davis (Orlando Magic), Mo Williams (Utah Jazz), Garrett Temple (Washington Wizards), Greg Monroe (Detroit Pistons), Shan Foster (Dallas Mavericks), Jonathan Bender (retired, Indiana Pacers), and Brandon Bass, who has played seven NBA seasons, including 2011-12 with the Boston Celtics.
One could imagine the difficulty of leaving a university you attended and coached at for more than a decade. Dannton Jackson is showing his faith in Rob Ehsan by committing to UAB. He will have an immediate impact on the current roster and ones to come.
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After a one year assistant coach stint under former Wright State coach Billy Donlon, Devitt is returning to the Southside to be one of Rob Ehsan’s assistants.
Devitt was a part of Jerod Haase’s staff from 2012-2015 where he climbed the ranks to become director of basketball operations during his final year in Birmingham.
While at Wright State, the Raiders finished the season 22-13 and tied for second in the Horizon League. Despite advancing to the Horizon League’s men’s tournament championship game, Billy Donlon was relieved of his head coaching duties, thus leaving Devitt in search for a new gig.
Like Ehsan, Devitt jumped into coaching at a very early age. Upon graduating from Depaul in 201o, Devitt joined the staff at Roosevelt University in Chicago where he was a top assistant and recruiting coordinator. Chicago is a hot bed for basketball and Devitt knows the area as well as anyone.
Devitt founded the Chicago High School Classic, which showcased the top 30 graduating seniors in Illinois. The Classic was played from 2005-2009 and helped countless student-athletes bridge the gap from high school to college.
One of Devitt’s most valuable assets is his ability to motivate young men. While at UAB, he created multiple “hype” videos for the players and fans to consume before games. Along with those videos, Devitt created senior highlights for many departing UAB seniors looking to take their careers to the professional level. You can find all of his videos here — Kevin Devitt’s Videos.
Here is an example of Devitt’s work:
William Lee’s Freshman Highlights
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Rarely when a coach as successful as Jerod Haase leaves does a school, fanbase, and team feel better off than they were before he left. I wouldn’t go as far to say we are better off, but, we certainly are left in good hands. Ehsan has built a strong staff that will continue on the path Haase paved in the Magic City.