Ryan Silver is synonymous with college basketball. West Coast Elite, the AAU club he founded, has become an institution. Silver boasts a long and extensive list of accolades.
He was the CIF California Coach of the Year in 2011 after leading Centennial High School to its first-ever Southern Section State Title. In 2019 at only 39 years of age, he was inducted into the California Boys State Hall of Fame. Silver has been recognized by the State Senate and the Los Angeles City Council. In 2020 he received the Presidential Service Award.
Silver is also the founder and president of Silver Waves Media. For the past four years, Silver Waves has issued a variety of lists highlighting important people in the world of college basketball.
Among the accolades Silver Waves has given is recognition for the top assistant coaches in America. Given Silver’s standing in the basketball community, the award is significant.
On May 5th, the media organization released its 2023 list, “50 Most Impactful High Major Assistants: Division I.” Two of SDSU head coach Brian Dutcher’s lieutenants, JayDee Luster and Chris Acker, were honored.
“Ryan Silver, he does a lot of good for the youth,” SDSU assistant JayDee Luster told EVT in an exclusive interview. “He does a lot of good for the basketball community. He’s very impactful in his own right. He started the West Coast Elite, which is an AAU team that has had a multitude of pros come throughout his program. He’s also involved in the media side. He’s one of the best networkers in the business.”
“So if there’s a guy that has a feel for the landscape as far as college coaches, he would be a guy that I would say is pretty close to being right on because of his networking abilities and all the different hats that he wears.”
The list of the top assistant coaches holds further weight considering more than 20 of the previous honorees have gone on to become head coaches. Recent examples include Bryan Hodgson and George Halcovage. In March, they were selected to lead Arkansas State and the University of Buffalo, respectively. Providence, likewise, gave the reign of its program to Kim English three weeks ago. All three were honored by Silver Waves in 2020.
“It’s an honor,” Luster explained when asked about the award. “It’s always good to have some notoriety. At the same time, … I understand that it’s never about me. It’s always about a team. I didn’t even know that 20 guys had become head coaches. That makes it a little bit more special for me, just knowing that guys that have been acknowledged by this media service have become head coaches. But for me, it’s always about the team and always about the program. I’m just happy to be a part of a good staff and to be here at San Diego State.”
2023 is not the first year SDSU’s assistants have been on the list. Dave Velasquez and Acker made the cut for the “2020 Most Impactful Men’s High Major Assistants” list. Assistant AD/Director of Basketball Operations, Matt Soria, was on the “2021 Most Impactful Support Staff: Men’s Division I” list.
SDSU’s Final Four run highlighted to the world what Aztec fans have long known, Brian Dutcher and his staff are second to none. Silver Waves’ awards have had the same result.
Dutcher should be recognized as one of the country’s most unique and gifted coaches. One of his best qualities is identifying and attracting the right people to partner with him in building his program.
“One of the things that make San Diego State special is the people,” Luster said. “I feel I’m blessed every single day to be able to work with great people and people that are great at their jobs. These awards, these accomplishments, is a reflection of what I see every single day. I work with the best assistants in the country, Dave Velasquez and Chris Acker. They’re both going to be successful head coaches. I think Matt Soria is the best Director of Basketball Operations guy in the country. Everybody’s supposed to say that, but everybody truly, deep down, don’t feel that way. And I truly, deep down, feel that way. I work with the best staff in the country.”
As the landscape of college basketball shifts with NIL and the one-time transfer rule, the hope that SDSU can navigate these changes and continue its decades of success rests on the skill of the people leading the team.
That Steve Fisher and Dutcher created the program through unconventional, grassroots means suggests they will figure out how to adapt to the challenges currently in front of them. What that will look like is presently unveiling.
“You think about Gonzaga,” Luster explained. “When they went to the Final Four, the trajectory of their program changed. They were able to recruit a better player. Everything changed. But now, in today’s climate with the NIL market, I think it’s changed a little bit. A lot more decisions are made based on NIL, made based on money. It’ll be interesting to see how this changes our program moving forward.”
What shape the future will take is anyone’s guess. Given Ryan Silver’s resume and the award his company gave to Luster and Acker this month, the future will be bright in San Diego.