Back on 8/22, HoopDirt.com mentioned that Yusef Fitzgerald would be joining the staff at Iona (Daily Dirt 8/22/16). That move has now been made official as Iona College men’s basketball head coach Tim Cluess announced the appointment of Yusef Fitzgerald as Director of Operations for the 2016-17 campaign. In addition, Cooper Calzonetti returns for his second season with the Maroon & Gold and serves as Graduate Manager.
“Yusef is a welcomed addition to our staff and I’m excited for Cooper to be with us again for the upcoming season,” said Cluess. “The two will complement our assistant coaches and will be extremely valuable assets to the program.”
Fitzgerald comes to the Maroon & Gold after spending the last two seasons at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, MS. He helped lead the Bobcats to a 33-13 record in 2014-15 and 2015-16. Last year, Jones County posted a 17-8 overall record and appeared in the MACJC tournament championship game. In his first season, the squad posted an 18-5 record and finished the 2014-15 campaign ranked No. 16 in the NJCAA and ranked as high as No. 8 during the year.
Prior to Jones County JC, Fitzgerald was the elite varsity head coach at IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL in 2013-14. He served other roles in the four years prior including assistant coach and recruiting manager. Fitzgerald helped train several college players including 2014 Toronto Raptors second round draft pick and former UConn Husky DeAndre Daniels. His student-athletes earned Division I scholarships to schools such as Louisville, UConn, Mississippi State, Florida Gulf Coast, South Dakota, Central Michigan and Duquesne. In his one season as head coach IMG was 19-9.
Before IMG, Fitzgerald coached in the high school and AAU ranks in Chicago, IL and near his hometown in Jackson, MS. He was head coach of the U15 Mean Streets AAU while assisting with the U17 program in addition to serving as assistant coach at Julian High School. Fitzgerald began his coaching career with the Jackson (MS) Panthers AAU program in 2006 after pursuing interests outside of basketball following the completion of his collegiate playing career. A year later, he accepted a position at his alma mater, Piney Woods High School
Originally from Atlanta, GA, Fitzgerald attended Piney Woods, just southeast of Jackson, MS. As a junior in 1994, he helped lead the squad to its first state title in school history and a 36-8 record while ranking in the top 10 final rankings in Mississippi. As a senior starter the team repeated as state champs at 37-2 and was the No. 1 team in the state. Upon graduating he accepted a scholarship to play basketball at Tougaloo College in Jackson, and played under coach James Turner from 1995-1998.
Fitzgerald completed his degree in psychology from Tougaloo in 2008. He has two children, Jordan (18) and Ari (4).
Calzonetti joined the men’s basketball staff as video coordinator last year following a four-year career at Medaille College. The son of assistant coach Mark Calzonetti, he was a two-year team captain, appearing in 100 games while scoring 351 points in 13.8 minutes per game. Calzonetti played all but one game over his final three seasons and had his best year as a senior when he started all 26 games he appeared while averaging 6.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists in the post. At Medaille, Calzonetti’s teams appeared in two NCAA Division III Tournaments after winning Allegany Mountain Collegiate Conference championships.
During his college career, Calzonetti gained coaching experience assisting with summer basketball camps at Daemen, Medaille, Niagara, Rider, and St. Bonaventure. He’s also worked well-known camps for The Hoop Groop, Five Star Basketball and the Bob Hurley Skills Camp.
Last season, Calzonetti was on a staff that guided the Gaels to their ninth MAAC Championship in program history and a berth in to the 2016 NCAA Tournament.