As the men’s basketball team prepares for a new season, they will have a new head coach for the first time in 12 seasons. Devin Aye comes over from Lassen College to coach the same team he assisted on back in 2005-’06.
Aye’s coaching career began as a 21-year-old right here at CRC. He worked as a volunteer assistant for former coach James Giacomazzi for one season then worked as an assistant coach for his father, Denny Aye, at Chabot College from 2006-’08 and 2010-’12.
In 2012, Aye took over a Lassen program that had won just three games combined in the two previous seasons and turned them into a 23-win team in his first year there. Aye credits the quick turnaround to recruiting, bringing in guys with a chip on their shoulder and who wanted to prove themselves.
As a result of the substantial turnaround and making it to the Sweet 16 of the California Community College men’s basketball playoffs, Aye was named Golden Valley Conference Coach of the Year
Aye faced his former team for the first time in a Sept. 26 tournament and described the experience. “They walked in and for a moment there I forgot which team I was coaching,” Aye said.
As Aye makes his return to CRC as the head coach, it’s a role he thought he would never have. “I just never envisioned him [Giacomazzi] leaving. So when I was working here it was never something where I was thinking ‘I’m going to take his job,’ it was more so getting experience so I could coach against him some day.”
He said he is excited about taking that next step as a coach, and coming to a program that has a lot to offer.
Aye mentioned some of the great resources CRC has to offer, “the best facilities, the administration is awesome, the athletic director has been great and the other coaches have welcomed me.”
It’s a major turnaround coming from a program where he washed jerseys, drove players to games and served as an academic counselor for his players. It’s an experience he has learned from, “It’s really made me appreciate everything I have right now.”
Aye understands the role of a coach providing a positive role model for his players. “I think it’s important to be an example of what I want them to be. All coaches want their teams to be mentally tough and hard working. If you don’t show that to your team, it’s hard for them to follow your lead,” Aye said.
He said he is proud of his educational background with two master’s degrees and wants to use that to show show the importance of education and the doors it can open. He also has a deep basketball background as both his father and brother are college basketball coaches.
“I feel like I’ve been doing it forever. I was raised in a household where other people might be watching “The Simpsons” on Monday night, but we were watching game film,” Aye said.
The team has already started practicing for the upcoming season and as a new coach, Aye brings a different style than Giacomazzi. “James is more of a traditional, double-post, power game where he wants to get the ball inside. My style is more up-tempo, fast-paced, get it and go, spread the floor out with a lot of spacing,” Aye said.
He said it’s a quicker, more exciting brand of basketball, most similar to the Golden State Warriors. It’s an exciting style of basketball that Aye said will help with recruiting and allow players to showcase themselves. He wants players “to be able to react on the court” and wants them to have fun.
His focus on recruiting will be talking about “the awesome facilities and support. An athletic director who is awesome and a great staff.” Aye also has a background of getting players to the next level collegiately with 17 players accepting scholarships to universities in his three years at Lassen.
Aye wants to push his players both on and off the court. “Making them realize that they are better than they thought they were. As a student, as a basketball player, as a person,” Aye said. “As a coach you always want to challenge the guys. Push them, motivate them and be that example and role model for them.”
With less than 15 practices remaining before the season, Aye’s goal for the team is focused on academic success.
“I want them to be great students, carry themselves well and I want the program to reflect well on campus,” Aye said.
As for basketball goals, he’s just focused on getting ready for the season and winning the first game.