The Williams College men’s basketball coaching tree has spread its branches far and wide. One branch has been replanted.
Dave Paulsen, who led Williams to its only NCAA Division III men’s basketball championship back in 2003, has been hired as an assistant coach at Fordham.
“It is awesome to be back,” Paulsen said. “I’m having so much fun. I think in any walk of life and in any career, you can take some things for granted. I think I appreciated every day the incredible privilege I had to teach and coach and mentor young people and had passion every single day for my job. When you have something that you love that’s been taken away from you and you get a chance to do it again, it’s awesome.
“I feel like I’m a kid in a candy store.”
Paulsen, who won 170 games in eight seasons at Williams, went from being a 2021-22 special assistant to the head coach at Fordham, before being named to new Rams coach Keith Urgo’s first staff.
The former Eph player and coach was the head coach at George Mason for six seasons, coming to the A10 after spending seven years at Bucknell. Paulsen helped out at Fordham and did some television work on NBC Sports coverage of Atlantic 10 Conference games after he was not retained at George Mason after the 2020-21 season.
The Williams tree branched out west, so to speak, as well. Justin Bradley, who worked for Kevin App at Williams from 2016-18, left Dartmouth for a job at Division I Seattle. Bradley was on the staff of the 2017 team that went to the Division III Final Four in Salem, Va. Bradley, who came to Williams after a coaching change at Dartmouth, was hired by new coach Dave McLaughlin in 2018.
It also moved south after former Eph assistant Mick Hedgepeth was hired in May as the new head coach at Division III Berry College in Georgia. Hedgepeth was one of the first assistants hired by App when the Eph coach replaced Mike Maker.
“To be coaching and teaching, it doesn’t matter if you’re the head coach or the assistant coach. It doesn’t matter if it’s Division I, Division II or Division III,” Paulsen said in an interview with The Eagle. “It’s a real special privilege to be able to do what I do. I don’t take that lightly.
“We’re in our third week of summer school and summer workouts. It’s good to be back in the gym with the guys doing individual workouts. We do two days of individual workouts and we do one day of team practice.”
Paulsen is the only newcomer on the staff at Fordham. Keith Urgo, who was the associate head coach last year, is the new head coach. He was promoted when Kyle Neptune left Rose Hill to replace his mentor, Jay Wright, at Villanova. Assistants Tray Woodall and Ronald Ramon were on Neptune’s staff as well.
“I spent last year as an advisor to Kyle Neptune, who was the head coach at Fordham last year,” said Paulsen. “It was interesting because Keith Urgo, who at the time was the associate head coach, had called me and said ‘Coach, would you be interested in consulting or being a special advisor?’ I said, yeah, that sounds great. I spent 40 days with the program last year, a couple of days a week. Preseason practices, the staff planning retreat, before the games. I worked with Kyle Neptune and his staff in kind of a mentoring, advising capacity. When Kyle left and went to Villanova and Keith was promoted to head coach. He asked me if I wanted to become part of the staff on a full-time basis, I was thrilled to be able to do that.”
Paulsen’s wife Kathy is still in the Washington D.C. area, where the family had lived while at George Mason. When the Paulsen’s get back together is anybody’s guess.
“Unfortunately, it is the million-dollar question. Right now, I’m in grad student housing which is right near Central Park. It’s a great location,” he said. “I have a dorm couch, a dorm table and a bed, and that’ll be through probably until August, while we figure out where we live and how we’re going to make that piece of it work.
“It’s such a great city, so vibrant, but it’s also as you know, expensive. That’s a complicated piece and we’re trying to figure that out.”
“I’ve had a career where I love going to work every single day,” Paulsen said. “I love what I do. There are a lot of people in this world who don’t love what they do. I think, more than anything, I’m grateful and know how blessed I am.”