Elon University Athletics and Men’s Basketball Head Coach Billy Taylor announced the additions of Ryan Saunders, Josh Gross, Matt Brady, and Luke Boythe to the program’s staff. HoopDirt.com first mentioned the additions of Saunders and Gross back in last April (ELON DIRT). Here’s the official release from Elon:
Ryan Saunders was announced as a men’s basketball assistant coach on May 18, 2022. The 2022-23 season marks his first with the program. Saunders joins the Phoenix after spending the last two seasons laying the foundation of the men’s basketball program at Converse University as the program’s first-ever head coach.
“I am excited to be reunited with Ryan,” head coach Billy Taylor opened. “We had tremendous success in building Belmont Abbey to a championship-level contender, and we will work just as hard to pursue excellence here at Elon. Please join me in welcoming Ryan, his wife, Amanda, and their daughter, Parker, to Elon.”
In their inaugural season in 2021-22, Saunders led the Valkyries to six wins, including five victories in conference matchups. He also coached the team to its first-ever win – a 93-82 decision against Mars Hill. Converse ended 11th overall in the Conference Carolinas standings last season, finishing ahead of North Greenville and Erskine.
Prior to Converse, Saunders spent five years at Belmont Abbey College, where he served as an assistant coach before being promoted to associate head coach in 2019-20.
During his time at Belmont Abbey, Saunders helped lead the team to a national ranking as high as No. 20 in the NCAA Division II national rankings in the 2019-20 campaign. In 2020, the team finished with a 21-10 record, good for second place in its conference. Additionally, Belmont Abbey was runner-up in the Conference Carolinas Tournament Championship and earned an at-large bid to the 2020 NCAA Tournament. He assisted with Belmont Abbey’s turnaround from a two-win season prior to his arrival to back-to-back twenty-win seasons in 2018-2019 and 2019-2020.
He recruited and coached one All-American selection, a Conference Carolinas Player of the Year, and a Conference Carolinas Defensive Player of the year, as well as eight all-conference selections, six all-tournament honorees and three all-regional selections during his five years at Belmont Abbey.
Saunders began his career at his alma mater, Barry University. As an assistant coach at Barry from 2007-2015, Saunders helped guide the men’s team to the NCAA Tournament three times and helped recruit a team that advanced to the NCAA Division II Elite 8 in 2016.
A graduate of Barry University, Saunders was a three-year captain of their NCAA Division II men’s basketball team. As a student-athlete, he led Barry to its first-ever Sunshine State Conference regular season championship, its first two NCAA Division II Tournaments and finished his career as the program’s all-time leader in assists.
Josh Gross was announced as a men’s basketball assistant coach on May 18, 2022. The 2022-23 season marks his first with the program. Gross joins the Phoenix after spending last season as the head coach at Johnson & Wales University (Charlotte).
“Josh brings valuable experience to our staff as a former professional basketball player and as a head coach at a variety of levels,” Taylor began. “Josh is a man of character who will help in the development of our student-athletes. Please join me in welcoming Josh, his wife Faith, and their daughters, Trinity, Jordyn and Hope to Elon.”
Gross led the Wildcats to the 2022 USCAA Division II National Championship game, compiling a record of 17-12 in the 2021-22 season. Under Gross’s leadership, Anthony Rey earned USCAA First Team All-American honors and was selected to the USCAA All-Academic Team. Additionally, Jaylen Dibble and DeAndre Williams were each named to the USCAA All-Academic Team.
Prior to JWU, Gross served as an assistant coach Belmont Abbey. The Crusaders recently captured the Conference Carolinas postseason tournament title and were the No. 1 seed for the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional. It was Gross’s second stint at Belmont Abbey, having also previously been an assistant coach in the 2017-18 season.
Before Belmont Abbey, Gross spent two seasons as the head coach at Gaston Christian School from 2018-20. He guided the Eagles to an NCISAA Elite 8 appearance, and had multiple players selected to the all-conference team. He also coached at J.M. Robinson High School in Concord and was part of a South Piedmont Conference championship team that advanced to the NCHSAA Sweet 16.
Gross, a native of Washington, D.C., is no stranger to the court as a player, either. He played collegiately at UNC Greensboro from 2001-05, where he ranks 20th on the school’s all-time rebounding list with 431. He also led the Spartans in field goal percentage in 2002-03 (.520). He furthered his playing career after graduation by participating in the NBA’s D-League. He played for several D-League teams including Austin, Albuquerque, Florida, and Los Angeles. He also played professional basketball internationally in both England and Japan.
Matt Brady was named an assistant men’s basketball coach on May 18, 2022. The 2022-23 season marks his first with the program. Brady, who has over 30 years of experience as a coach at the Division I level, including 12 as a head coach, comes to Elon after serving as an assistant coach at Maryland the previous five seasons.
“We are excited to welcome Matt Brady to Elon,” Taylor began. “Matt brings incredible CAA experience from his time as the head coach at James Madison to our staff. Matt also has excellent relationships that will be beneficial as we build our program here at Elon.”
In five seasons as an assistant coach, the Terrapins advanced to two NCAA Tournaments (and were on the way to a third before COVID shut down the 2019-20 season) and captured the 2020 Big Ten Championship.
In 2020-21, the Terrapins overcame a 4-9 hole in Big Ten Conference play to advance to the NCAA Tournament round of 32. Guards Aarron Wiggins, Eric Ayala and Darryl Morsell each earned All-Big Ten selections, with Morsell being named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. Wiggins was later selected in the NBA Draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In 2019-20, Brady helped lead the Terrapins to the 2020 Big Ten Championship and a 24-7 overall record before the season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. Brady helped develop All-Big Ten First Teamers Anthony Cowan Jr. and Jalen Smith. Smith was also a unanimous All-American and top-10 draft pick in the NBA Draft. The Terps finished the season ranked No. 12 in the Associated Press poll.
In Brady’s second season as an assistant (2018-19), he helped lead the Terps to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and a 23-11 overall record despite being the fourth-youngest team in the country according to KenPom.
Prior to Maryland, Brady was the head coach at James Madison for eight seasons, racking up 139 wins, including four seasons with 20 or more victories. In 2013, he led the Dukes to a CAA Championship and an NCAA Tournament bid. He also guided the Dukes to three additional postseason appearances and the 2015 CAA regular season title.
Brady was recognized as State Coach of the Year by the Virginia Sports Information Directors in 2013 following his NCAA Tournament campaign and was also tabbed District 10 Co-Coach of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
Brady inherited a JMU program that finished last in the conference in scoring, field goal and three-point percentage in 2007. The following season, Brady had the Dukes atop the conference in all three statistical categories. While at JMU, Brady coached 10 All-CAA players and four all-district honorees. Brady mentored three of the top 10 scorers in program history as well as three of the top 10 three-point shooters.
Prior to leading the program at James Madison, Brady was the head coach at Marist for four seasons from 2004-08 where he compiled a 73-50 record with the Red Foxes and improved their win total during each of his first three seasons with the team. Marist set a program record for wins during its 25-9 season in 2006-07 when Brady was the MAAC and New York City-area coach of the year. Marist had dramatic statistical improvements under his direction, ranking in the top three in the 10-team MAAC in overall field goal percentage, three-point percentage and three-pointers per game during each of his four seasons. While at Marist, Brady mentored MAAC Player of the Year Jared Jordan, who was a two-time NCAA Division I assists champion and the 45th overall choice in the NBA draft by the Los Angeles Clippers.
A 1987 Siena graduate and a native of Haddon Heights, N.J., Brady was a Division I assistant coach for 17 seasons at Rhode Island (1987-89), Wagner (1989-93) and Saint Joseph’s (1993-04). While Brady was at Saint Joseph’s, the Hawks appeared in the NCAA Tournament four times, the NIT three times and won four Big 5 championships and three Atlantic 10 titles.
Saint Joseph’s was 27-0 during the regular season in 2003-04, earned a No. 1 national ranking and a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament, ultimately reaching the Elite Eight. Brady was involved in recruiting several of the top players in Saint Joseph’s history, including 2004 National Player of the Year Jameer Nelson and Delonte West, an honorable mention Associated Press All-America selection. Nelson, who was selected in the first round of the 2004 NBA Draft and has gone on to play 12 seasons in the NBA, continued to be mentored and trained by Brady during his offseason.
As a player at Siena, Brady appeared in 114 career games, including 92 as a starter. He completed his career as the program’s all-time assists leader (593), and he was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 1993. For his career he accumulated 1,106 points (9.7 points per game) and was a 45.9 percent shooter from the field.
Brady was a standout at Paul VI High School in Haddon (N.J.) Township and was named to the 1980s South Jersey All-Decade Team. He was enshrined in the Camden County Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. Brady and his wife Mary have three sons, Logan – who is a student at Maryland and manager on the team – and twins Cole and Griffin.
Luke Boythe was named the men’s basketball director of operations on May 18, 2022. Boythe joins the staff after spending several years as the head or assistant coach at Charlotte Christian School. The 2022-23 season marks his first at Elon.
“I’m really excited to have Luke here on staff,” Taylor said. “Luke has long-standing relationships in the state of North Carolina as a player and coach, and his experience at every level from middle school to college will be an asset to our program. His ability to connect with the players and staff on and off the court will make us better. Please join me in welcoming Luke, Melissa, Andrew, Elijah and Gabrielle to Elon.”
Throughout his time at Charlotte Christian School, Boythe helped lead the boys program to a conference championship in 2019-20 and has coached more than ten collegiate athletes, including one current NBA player and one current NBA team staff member. As the head coach of the girls program from 2014-19, Boythe guided the team to two state semifinals at the high school level, and one appearance in the conference semifinals and finals at the middle school level. Boythe also played his high school basketball at Charlotte Christian under head coach and NBA Hall of Famer, Bobby Jones.
Additionally, Boythe has made stops at Belmont Abbey College (2016-20) and the University of Iowa (2019-20), where he served as a character coach for the two programs. As a character coach, he would develop weekly leadership and growth opportunities for the team and coaches. In this role, Boythe would offer counsel and support that builds leadership, helps improve decision making and promotes a healthy way to manage stress within student-athletes. He also coached a summer league team at Belmont Abbey.
Prior to his returning to Charlotte Christian School in 2008, Boythe spent the 2007-08 season as the head coach of the junior varsity and varsity teams at Metrolina Christian Academy. Boythe started his coaching career in 2003-04 at Caldwell Academy where he spent one season before leaving and returning again for the 2005-06 year.
A former student-athlete at UNC Greensboro from 1998-03 under head coach Fran McCaffrey and assistant coach Taylor, Boythe helped lead the program to one NCAA Tournament appearance, one NIT appearance and one preseason NIT appearance in his time as a player. Upon his graduation in 2003, Boythe stayed with the program for the 2004-05 season as a volunteer assistant coach. In his role, he assisted the coaching staff with film exchange, break down, and practice and game preparation.
Boythe comes to Elon with his wife Melissa, who was a four-year starter on the women’s soccer team at UNC Greensboro, and his three kids – Andrew, Elijah and Gabrielle.