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Project Rise seeks to help change how Division I coaching looks

Brandon Goble and JUCO Advocate have helped hundreds of players, and now look to do the same in the coaching ranks.

NCAA Basketball Tournament - South Regional - Louisville Photo by Joe Robbins/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Brandon Goble is a numbers guy.

That’s what swept a former college water polo player into the basketball world as he discovered Basketball on Paper and KenPom, two forerunners of basketball analytics. Goble has done data and analytics work for a Division I program, and has helped hundreds, if not thousands, of players through JUCO Advocate, an organization that connects Junior College players with NCAA and NAIA coaches.

Now, he’s set on impacting some much more important numbers.

“75 percent of Division I head coaches are white, and that is if you’re including [Historically Black Colleges and Universities],” he said. “So that number gets worse when you remove HBCUs from it, so our eventual goal in the long, long run is that more black coaches are hired to be head coaches at the Division I level.”

To make that happen, Goble and JUCO Advocate plan to launch Project Rise in September, a mentorship program that will connect 10 Black coaches at the high school, AAU or Junior College levels with 10 Division I head coaches. The program would also include other development components, like emotional intelligence and networking training, with an ultimate goal to help change those percentages.

Goble said that he knows Division I isn’t the end-all, be-all for everyone, but everything flows from the top.

“There are unbelievable coaches that are candidates now but just really have a hard time getting the looks they should be getting,” Goble said. “We want to inject 10 new black coaches every year into Division I, and kind of help create this wave of talented coaches coming through that people need to be paying attention to. A lot of times with these things there’s a lot of great mentoring going on, but it’s not necessarily with people that can pick up the phone and have a large impact on hiring.”

Bridging the Junior College and Division I worlds is something Goble knows well, and it started with a Twitter handle.

Years ago, he had met Solomon Hainna, a C-130 load master in the Air Force who had made a name for himself dominating on-base pickup games at a bar. Goble helped Hainna land a spot at Midland College, a Junior College in Texas, before eventually moving on to a Division I career at Evansville and UT Rio Grande Valley.

After that, Goble began helping more players under the JUCO Advocate handle, work that at one time including sending upwards of 16,000 texts per month. Goble said there’s still a lot texting, but the work has grown into an umbrella of projects that includes a recruiting profile portal, free camps around the world and non-profit, 501(c)(3) work. Through it, he’s estimated JUCO Advocate has helped more than a thousand players, in some form or another. The mantra has remained the same for it all — everything is at no cost to the players.

With Project Rise, Goble hopes the organization can affect the coaching ranks as well.

“The impetus behind it is something we’ve been discussing for some time: how can we effectively and efficiently help change the landscape of how coaching looks, especially at the Division I level,” he said. “Thinking about that and just really the confluence of events, unfortunately everything that’s going on, this was the right time to say, ‘okay we need to do this now.’”