COLCHESTER, Vt. - Saint Michael's College men's basketball head coach Eric Eaton announced the hire of former New York Institute of Technology head coach Evan Conti as the program's full-time assistant coach on Wednesday. He joins Eaton and third-year assistant coach Shay Berry in rounding out the staff heading into the 2021-22 school year.
Conti, who also played three years of professional basketball in Israel, replaces Tevin Baskin, who recently returned to Division I Mississippi State University as the men's basketball program's director of scouting and analytics under head coach Ben Howland. Conti was recruited to play collegiately at Quinnipiac University by Eaton, then an assistant coach.
"I am extremely excited to officially join the Saint Michael's basketball family," said Conti, who was the youngest head coach in NCAA Division I, II or III men's basketball when hired at NYIT. "Coach Eaton has been a mentor of mine since my high school days. I've experienced firsthand how knowledgeable and passionate he is about the game and how much he emotionally invests in his players. I'm confident that with the current talent on our roster, coaching alongside Coach Berry and under Coach Eaton's leadership, we will experience great success in the ultra-competitive Northeast-10 Conference."
Conti joined the NYIT coaching staff as an assistant coach in 2018-19 before being named interim head coach for the final two contests. The Bears earned a 106-73 win over LIU Post on Feb. 27, 2019, for his first career victory. Conti was ultimately named head coach in the offseason and saw immediate improvement the following year, as NYIT vaulted from ninth into a tie for fifth in the East Coast Conference (ECC), qualifying for its first postseason in five years. NYIT led the league during ECC play in opponent field goal percentage (42.3%) and opponent three-point shooting (29.1%).
"Being reunited with Evan Conti on my staff here at Saint Michael's is truly amazing," said Eaton. "I've been blessed to see him grow as a player from high school to college and on to be a pro. He's tough and extremely competitive. He'll bring big-time energy on the floor. Evan is very knowledgeable and will be adept at teaching our players every day. I'm beyond excited that he's here, and I'm proud to call him a friend. Having Evan Conti and Shay Berry, two former head coaches, on my staff is amazing. They'll make me a better coach and will surely bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to our student-athletes. It's a very exciting time for Saint Michael's basketball."
One of Conti's star players at NYIT, redshirt senior Jeffrey Hayden, landed on the 2019-20 ECC All-Conference third team. The Bears later earned a National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Team Academic Excellence Award thanks to posting a minimum cumulative 3.0 grade-point average. Ten Bears qualified for NYIT's Academic Honor Roll.
In August 2020, NYIT announced it was suspended its intercollegiate athletics activities for at least two years. Since then, Conti worked as the director of player development for Level Up LI, an AAU basketball program based in Long Island. He also trained numerous current college and overseas professional players while co-hosting the Level Up Your Basketball podcast, interviewing such prominent guests as former NBA All-Stars Kenyon Martin and Wally Szczerbiak.
Conti was a highly-regarded schoolboy in New York City, earning 2010-11 Jewish Sports Review All-America and Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) all-league first team honors while graduating as the fifth-leading all-time scorer (1,120) at Holy Cross High School in Flushing, Queens, N.Y. He also won two gold medals with Team USA at World Maccabiah Games, being named MVP of the junior 16U division in 2009 after scoring 36 points in the gold medal game. In 2013, Conti and his squad won the open division under the guidance of legendary European coach Brad Greenberg, the former general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers.
A 2015 graduate of Quinnipiac with a degree in communications, Conti appeared in 121 career games, making 42 starts. The 6-foot-3 guard led the team in three-pointers twice and assists once, finishing with 740 points, 450 rebounds, 228 assists and 108 threes. He helped Quinnipiac qualify for the 2011-12 College Basketball Invitational and 2013-14 CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
Conti went on to play three years of professional basketball in Israel, appearing with Hapoel Be'er Sheva, Hapoel Migdal Haemek and Hapoel Afula, all of Liga Leumit, Israel's second tier of pro competition. In 45 games, he averaged 3.9 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists while knocking down 23 threes and adding 24 steals.