Miller announces URI basketball staff

Rhode Island men’s basketball head coach Archie Miller has completed his first coaching staff, hiring veterans Kenny Johnson and Duane Woodward, while also retaining Austin Carroll.

It is a trio of assistant coaches who have combined for nine NCAA tournament appearances, four Sweet 16s, two Elite 8 runs and more than 500 victories at the Division I level.

In addition to the coaching additions, Miller has named Ben Sander as his chief of staff, and Ryan McCloskey has been retained and will be the assistant director of basketball operations and video coordinator.

“Every decision we make as a program has to have the players in mind. When it comes to assembling a staff, the first thing that comes to mind for me is having a group of people who can bring the best out of our guys,” Miller said. “We want to maximize our players in all areas, on and off the floor. It is a well-rounded group who can relate to players, develop them on the court and mentor them off the court.”

Johnson is considered one of the of the top assistant coaches in the country. He has coached NBA draft picks Terry Rozier, Montrezl Harris, Chinanu Onuaku, Donovan Mitchell, Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh. While at Louisville, the team was While at Louisville, Johnson helped the school go 75-26, including an Elite 8 run in 2015 and a second-round appearance in 2017. He also helped Indiana reach the Sweet 16 in 2013.

“Kenny and I have known each other a long time, and he is one of the best in the business,” Miller said. “He has had great success at all levels, whether it is the high school ranks, the AAU ranks and also the college game. Kenny will have a heavy hand in recruiting, not only on the East Coast, but specifically in the DMV area. His skill in the area of player development speaks loudly to me. He is a terrific coach with the ability to add a wealth of experience right away for us.

Johnson was part of the Rick Pitino staff at Louisville that received notice of allegation for recruiting violations. The case will be heard in June. Pitino returned to coaching as the head coach at Iona in March of 2020.

“We are fully aware that Kenny is part of the NCAA notice of allegation that is under review,” Rhode Island Director of Athletics Thorr Bjorn said. “Kenny has been fully transparent with us, and he comes to Rhode Island with the highest recommendations from people who have worked with him. He is well respected in the industry and has an excellent reputation as a coach. This is someone who can truly help our program.”

Woodward comes to Rhode Island from Seton Hall, where he was an assistant on Kevin Willard’s staff from July of 2018 through the end of this season. A native of Queens, N.Y., Woodward helped the Pirates go 76-47 over four seasons while making the NCAA Championship field twice in three possible chances, doing so in 2019 and 2022. The 2019-20 squad finished third in the Big East and was in line for a bid before COVID caused the postseason to be canceled.

The brother of former Rhode Island player Brian Woodward (1,000-point scorer from 2000-04), he worked with the guards and wings and was a recruiter. He was the primary recruiter for 6-5 shooting guard Jaquan Sanders, who chose Seton Hall over the likes of Pitt, Connecticut, Creighton and St. John’s. 

“Duane comes very highly recommended and success has followed him at all levels throughout his career,” Miller said. “The program he helped built with King Rice at Monmouth was impressive, and that translated to him joining Kevin Willard at Seton Hall for four seasons. I believe Kevin is one of the best coaches out there, and Duane had a big hand in the day-to-day of what they did there.

“Teaching the game, scouting and recruiting the right players is something that really resonated when I talked with Duane. That is something I hold near and dear to my heart as a head coach, is having coaches who love to be on the floor teaching the game. The success he had in the Big East and at Monmouth spoke volumes to me as we get ready to build here.”

Before his time at Seton Hall, Woodward spent four seasons as an assistant at Monmouth, helping the Hawks to two of the program’s most successful seasons ever that resulted in MAAC regular season championships. In 2015-16, Monmouth went 28-8 with wins over UCLA, USC, Notre Dame, Georgetown and Rutgers while earning an automatic bid into the NIT and advancing to the tournament’s second round. In 2016-17, the Hawks went 27-7 and again earned an NIT auto bid.

Woodward also spent time at Fordham (assistant video coordinator, 2013-14) and had tremendous success as an AAU coach with the New York Panthers for five years, serving as the head coach of the 16U juniors and assistant coach of the 17U seniors, alongside the program’s director Gary Charles.

Woodward was a four-year starter at Boston College from 1994-98, leading the Eagles to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in 1996 and 1997. He then embarked on a 13-year professional playing career in Europe. His playing career included stops in 10 different countries. He helped lead AEL to back-to-back championships in 2003 and 2004 and was named All-Cyprus League Player of the Year and All-Cyprus League First Team, as well as the 2004 All-FIBA Europe League Player of the Year. Woodward was also named to the 2008 Cyprus League All-Imports Team, and he was a two-time All Star during his tenure in Europe.

While an assistant with Seton Hall, he was a founding member of Coaches For Action, which brought together 21 BIG EAST assistant men’s basketball coaches together on a shared mission to use the platform of athletics to educate and bring awareness to social injustices.

Carroll will enter his fourth season at Rhode Island. He joined David Cox’ staff in 2019 after five years at Arizona, where he was part of Sean Miller’s staff. Archie Miller and Carroll worked together on Sean Miller’s 2015 Team USA U19 staff that won a gold medal at the World Championship in Greece.

In five seasons at Arizona, Carroll was a part of four NCAA tournament teams, an Elite 8 run (2015) and a Sweet 16 appearance (2017). The Wildcats won three Pac-12 titles and were 135-41 in Carroll’s time there.

“Austin and I go back a long ways, and I have a previous relationship with his father going back to John’s time at Duquesne,” Miller said. “In the five years that he was with my brother Sean’s staff at Arizona, he continuously worked his way from through several roles. He has a great demeanor on the court and is very familiar with how I want to teach the game on the court. He is great in player development, and he has a lot of ties in the New England area in terms of recruiting, both in the high schools and with the grassroots programs.”

Sander has a long history with both Archie and Sean Miller. He was a student manager with Sean Miller’s Arizona teams from 2011-15 before joining Archie Miller at Dayton as a graduate assistant from 2015-17. Sander went to Indiana as Miller’s Team Recruitment and Analyst (2017-21), and spent last season as the Hoosiers’ Director of Operations.

“I am very familiar with Ben. He has grown through the years and shown the ability to wear a lot of hats,” Miller said. “He will oversee daily operations of our program and be a part of every decision we make when it comes to scheduling, N.I.L. and recruiting. He will make sure we are running as smoothly as possible from a holistic point of view. He is going to be a valuable and key piece to getting our program up and running.”

McCloskey has been with Rhode Island since the 2018-19 season. He worked with Miller as part of the Team USA U19 team that won a gold medal in 2015. While with URI, McCloskey has been heavily involved in scouting and all team operations. Before Rhode Island, he spent five seasons at Florida and head coaches Billy Donovan (2013-15) and Michael White (2015-18).

“Ryan has been here for four years and is very talented in the film and analytics department,” Miller said. “He knows how to deal with the people on the campus in several areas, from administration to academics, and he has a great rapport with our current team. He’ll have a heavy involvement in the day-to-day operations.”

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