Ryan Ayers, a 2009 Notre Dame graduate and sharp-shooting guard for the Fighting Irish, has returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach on Mike Brey’s staff. Ayers is the second former Brey player and team captain added to the men’s basketball coaching staff in the last two weeks joining 2002 graduate Ryan Humphrey.
“We are going back to the well of former players, `getting the band back together’ so to speak,” Brey said.
“Ryan Ayers was one of those players that took time to develop. He got older, he got stronger then as the light bulb went on he had two great years as a junior and senior. We get a lot of young men who develop like that and to have Ryan here as an example, to talk them through those developmental stages, will be very important.”
“He is another former player I have had an eye on. He comes from great bloodline with his Dad being a former college and NBA coach. He is a natural for this position and paid his dues at Bucknell. I am thrilled to have a class act and a winner back in our program.”
“Some of the fondest memories of my life have been wearing that Irish jersey and playing for Coach Brey. I am humbled and honored for this opportunity and ready to give back to the student-athletes and this University that has given so much to me.”
Ayers saw action in all four years on the Irish roster appearing in 117 games and making 51 starts. He served as team captain in 2008-09 alongside teammates Zach Hillesland, Kyle McAlarney and Luke Zeller. A sweet shooting swing guard/forward, Ayers is fourth on the all-time list for career three-point shooting (.424) and 11th in three-point field goals made (170).
While his shooting stroke might be remembered most by Irish fans, Ayers also was a dogged defender who earned the team’s Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2009. He blocked 47 shots during his Irish career (including 25 his senior season), a total that would rank just outside the top 20 on the all-time Notre Dame list.
For his career at Notre Dame, Ayers averaged 6.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg with 106 assists and 72 steals. He was also a stand out in the classroom, earned a spot on the BIG EAST Academic All-Star Team during his sophomore, junior and senior seasons.
Most recently, Ayers was an assistant coach at Bucknell for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. Ayers helped the Bison earn the Patriot League regular-season title both seasons and earn a two trips to the National Invitational Tournament. He worked with first-team all-Patriot League player Chris Hass, aided Nana Foulland into earning all-rookie honors in 2015 and second team all-league honors in 2016 and guided Stephen Brown to third-team all-league honors and a spot on the 2016 all-league defensive team.
In the summer of 2014, Ayers served as assistant coach, assistant general manager and a player on The Fighting Alumni, a group of former Irish players who participated in the inaugural The Basketball Tournament. The team of Notre Dame alumni won the 32-team event, earning a $500,000 winner-take-all payment.
Ayers scored 15 points and contributed five rebounds in the championship game against Team Barstool. The Fighting Alumni donated $40,000 of their winnings to Coach Brey’s Coaches vs. Cancer initiatives.
Ayers started his professional basketball career with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA D-League in 2009-10, playing in 50 games with a 9.7 ppg average. He moved to Finland for the 2010-11 season to play for Namika Lahti, scoring 17.6 ppg in 43 games.
The 2011-12 season found him in France, playing for Boulazac Basket Dordogne, where he averaged 11.0 ppg in 40 contests. He split time in 2012-13 between France and the Austin Toros of the D-League before heading back to Finland for the 2013-14 season. As part of KTP Basket Kotka in Finland, Ayers played 45 games, averaged 13.9 ppg and played 12 games in the 2014 EuroChallenge, earned Eurobasket.com All-EuroChallenge Honorable Mention honors.
Ayers In The Notre Dame Record Book –
4th, Three-Point Field Goal Percentage (.424)
11th, Three-Point Field Goals Made (170)
11th, Three-Point Field Goals Attempted (401)
College Basketball Honors and Awards –
2009 Notre Dame Best Defensive Player
2008 Notre Dame Most Improved Player Award
2007 Team Irish Award
2008-09, 2007-08, 2005-06 BIG EAST Academic All-Star Team
AYERS NOTES: Younger brother, Cameron, was a standout guard at Bucknell from 2010-14 and 2014 Patriot League Player of the Year … father, Randy Ayers, is currently an assistant coach for the New Orleans Pelicans and also was head coach at Ohio State (1989-97) and for the Philadelphia 76ers (2003-04) … holds the school record for three pointers in a game at Purcell Pavilion with nine (tied with two other players), scoring 35 points on 9-14 shooting from three point range against South Dakota in 2008-09 … in that game with South Dakota, the Irish set the school record for three pointers in a game with 19, which was eventually bested by the 2010-11 team with 20 against Villanova … one his top performances of 2008-09 came vs. Providence, playing all 40 minutes while scoring 28 points and grabbing eight rebounds … hometown is Blue Bell, Pa., and attended Germantown Academy during his prep career.