New McNeese basketball head coach Heath Schroyer has announced his first addition to his staff, that being John Aiken who will hold the title as associate head coach.
Aiken comes to McNeese after spending the previous two seasons as the top assistant at Nicholls where he helped lead the Colonels to a share of the Southland Conference regular season title this past year.
In his two years with the Colonels, he was responsible for recruiting three SLC All-Conference selections, two SLC All-Defensive Team players, and this past year’s Newcomer of the Year.
Aiken was instrumental in turning around a Colonels’ team that posted a 14-17 record his first season to a 21-11 mark this past year with his recruiting and teaching skills.
“I am thrilled to be a member of the McNeese Basketball family,” said Aiken. “There is great energy and excitement in Lake Charles and around the basketball program right now and I believe we can leverage that to ultimately win championships in the Southland Conference.”
Before Nicholls, Aiken spent two seasons as Schroyer’s assistant at UT Martin where he helped the Skyhawks to 21 victories during the 2015-16 season, one win shy of the school’s single season record.
“We are very fortunate to have John here at McNeese,” said Schroyer. “John Aiken is a winner! He has won everywhere he’s been. I have the utmost respect and confidence in him.”
“John knows the region and he knows the league, which is invaluable to us,” said Schroyer. “He is a first class individual, a relentless recruiter, and one of the best basketball minds I’ve been around.”
While at UT Martin, not only did he helped build a program, the Skyhawks tallied the program’s first three postseason victories since becoming a Division I member in 1992. He was part of UT Martin’s 13-win increase in 2014-15 from the previous year, which ranked as the fourth-best turnaround in Division I basketball.
“He was with me every step of the way at UT Martin when we turned that program around,” Schroyer said. “He knows what it takes.”
“Coach Schroyer and I have a great working relationship,” said Aiken. “We see the game similarly and I’m excited to reconnect with he and his family.”
Before joining UT Martin, Aiken totaled seven seasons of collegiate coaching experience, including two years as head coach of Belhaven University, an NAIA school in Jackson, Miss. Aiken posted 30 overall wins and a 22-16 Southern States Athletic Conference record as head coach at Belhaven. In 2013-14, he helped guide the Blazers to an 18-15 record (14-6 SSAC) and a spot in the NAIA Division I National Tournament. He spent the previous four seasons as the top assistant at Belhaven, which included two more trips to the NAIA national tournament (2010 and 2012). The Blazers went 24-10 during the 2009-10 season, earning a spot in the national tournament for the first time since 1972.
All in all, Aiken coached four honorable mention All-Americans, six all-division honorees and nine all-conference selections during his tenure at Belhaven.
Prior to his stint with the Blazers, Aiken was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of New England, an NCAA Division-III school located in Biddeford, Maine. He helped the Nor’easters reach the 2008 ECAC New England Regional Championship game after New England posted a 17-12 overall record.
Aiken also served as an assistant coach at Cheverus High School in Portland, Maine and Greater Portland Christian School in South Portland, Maine before entering the collegiate coaching ranks.
Aiken has gained valuable experience working prestigious summer camps at the University of Louisville, Xavier University, University of Connecticut, Wake Forest University, Florida State University and the University of Miami. He also worked as the director of basketball operations for Camp Caribou in Winslow, Maine.
A native of Portland, Maine, Aiken earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Southern Maine in 2008. He also completed his Master’s degree in sports administration at Belhaven in 2013. He and his wife Michelle spent a summer working with Athletes in Action in South Africa and Mozambique where they volunteered at orphanages, coached against several professional and club teams and visited with various schools and governmental organizations. He and Michelle have two children - a daughter Gracie and son Macrae.
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