Although the 2023-24 season is seven months away, newly appointed New Mexico State Head Coach Jason Hooten’s task of developing a roster and staff to help restore the tradition of winning within the Aggie program started the day he was hired.
Coach Hooten took a step in that direction by announcing the hiring of Assistant Coach Zach Settembre (pronounced set-tem-bray), a 14-year coaching veteran and the first member of Hooten’s Aggie staff.
“We are extremely excited to have Zach join our Aggie family,” stated Coach Hooten. “Zach is a big-time worker and has a huge passion for helping student-athletes with every aspect of their lives. Coach Settembre is the perfect person to help build our culture of TEAM-FAMILY-BELIEVE, as we transition into Conference USA.”
Settembre makes his way to Las Cruces after spending one season as an assistant coach learning under Billy Gillispie at WAC institution Tarleton. In his lone year in Stephenville, Texas, Settembre helped lead the Texans to 17 wins, their highest win total since transitioning to the Division I level.
With Settembre’s help, the Texans averaged a league-best 9.71 steals per game – a mark that only five DI programs eclipsed last year. The Louisville, Ky., native also played a pivotal role in the development of Tarleton’s lead guard Freddy Hicks, who earned Second Team All-WAC honors after pacing the Texans in scoring.
Ahead of his time with Tarleton, Settembre spent one year as an assistant coach at Coastal Carolina, where he was a key cog in helping generate one of the most successful seasons in Chanticleer program history. With Settembre on the sidelines, Coastal Carolina turned in a 19-14 overall record, won three postseason games and earned a spot in the finals of The Basketball Classic.
While in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Settembre also coached Second Team All-Sun Belt selection Vince Cole who led the Chanticleers in scoring and ranked fifth in the conference at 15.4 points per game while shooting 41.2 percent from beyond the arc, which ranked 27th among all DI players.
Settembre’s stop prior to Coastal Carolina came at Tallahassee Community College where he was the head coach from 2019-21 and led TCC to an impressive 46-9 overall record and back-to-back Panhandle Conference Championships during the two-year stint. Settembre also garnered Panhandle Conference Coach of the Year honors in both years as the leader in Tallahassee.
In his first season at TCC, Settembre helped a school-record nine players go on to sign National Letters of Intent with DI schools while all 15 players on the roster accepted scholarships with four-year programs. Settembre’s guidance also led to a TCC sweep of Panhandle Conference postseason awards as El Ellis was named both conference player of the year and freshman of the year and Tariq Silver earned conference newcomer of the year honors. Additionally, seven Eagles were named to the all-conference first or second teams.
TCC went on to finish with a 27-6 overall record while capturing its first Panhandle Conference Championship since 2001 in Settembre’s first season at the helm. The Eagles’ regular season success also led them to earn the school’s first-ever at-large bid into the NJCAA National Tournament.
The very next season, TCC finished with a 19-3 record en route to claiming a share of the Panhandle Conference Championship during a shortened campaign. The back-to-back conference titles were the first in program history since the 1996 and 1997 seasons.
Settembre got his first introduction into the DI game when he was a student manager under legendary head coach Jim Boeheim at Syracuse. Following his college graduation in 2012, Settembre returned home to Kentucky and worked as a freshman head boys basketball coach at Iroquois High School (2012-13) and Ballard High School (2013-14). His first collegiate assignment came in the following years at Kentucky Wesleyan College where he served as an assistant under Happy Osborne.