From NYU Athletics
Dagan Nelson has been hired as the 14th Head Coach of the New York University men's basketball team. A former Violet assistant during the 2000-02 seasons, Nelson returns with over 20 years of coaching experience.
Beginning with a stint as the Head Coach at Melbourne (FL) Central Catholic High School in 1997 and culminating as a coach with the Upward Stars Southeast AAU Program in Spartanburg, SC, Nelson has accumulated 21 years of experience from the high-school level to NCAA Division I.
Nelson brings nine years of head coaching experience to his new position at NYU. In addition to his two seasons at Melbourne (1997-99), he served as Head Coach at SUNY New Paltz for four years (2007-11) and at Westchester Country Day School in High Point, NC, for three seasons (2011-14).
As an assistant, Nelson spent two seasons at Division I Eastern Kentucky University (2002-04), where he helped recruit a top-50 recruiting class. He also served one season at Division I Stony Brook University (2004-05), two seasons as a volunteer at Division II Concordia College (2005-07) and as a Volunteer Assistant for one season at Division II Pace University (1999-2000).
"I am thrilled that Dagan has agreed to return to New York University as our Head Men's Basketball Coach," said Christopher Bledsoe, NYU's Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Director of Athletics. "He has the perfect blend of experience as a leader, coach and recruiter to take full advantage of the unique and exciting opportunities here at NYU. He is committed to creating an environment where each student will succeed personally, academically and athletically as a basketball player while also tapping the great resources of NYU to build a strong foundation for life after graduation. I am confident our student-athletes will enjoy playing for Coach Nelson and each other as they are challenged to reach their full potential. We are fortunate to have him back and look forward to a bright future and great success for NYU basketball."
Over the course of his career, Nelson has coached over 600 games and has helped prepare four student-athletes for professional careers in Europe. Three of those players came out of the Eastern Kentucky program (Michael Haney, Matt Witt, Alonzo Hird), while another, Matt Devine, was instructed by Nelson at SUNY New Paltz.
While at SUNY New Paltz, Nelson recruited and coached five players who became 1,000-point scorers (Devine, Harris Wichard, Shereef Taylor, Taylor Sowah, Nick Taldi). He also led the Hawks to their first in-season championship (2010 Hamilton Tournament) in more than a decade.
During his tenure in New Paltz, Nelson also served as the Head Coach of USA Athletes International during the summers of 2008 and 2009. Those teams were comprised of Division II and Division III student-athletes who Nelson led to a combined 14-3 record competing against semi-pro teams from Spain, Croatia and Bosnia.
In his position with the Upward Stars AAU program, Nelson has helped to develop multiple student-athletes who have gone on to play at Division I institutions such as Clemson University, the University of South Carolina and Yale University.
"I am humbled and honored to be named the 14th Head Men's Basketball Coach at NYU, the largest private university in the United States," Nelson said. "I would like to thank Christopher Bledsoe, Janice Quinn, and Frank Sicignano for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The tradition of excellence that has been established over the last century is astonishing. Having been a part of that history earlier in my career I understand what a special place NYU is. I also want to thank Joe Nesci and all of the current and past players, coaches, and staff who have helped to build this program over the years. We look forward to building a nationally-competitive program that the entire University community will be proud of!"
During his initial stint at NYU, the Violets posted an overall 32-21 record (18-10 in 2000-01, 14-11 in 2001-02), while two Violets, Brian Beggans and Justin Hoffman, graduated as 1,000-point scorers in 2002. He also helped to recruit Jared Kildare, who still holds the Violets' record for most assists (185) in a season.
A 1996 graduate of Ramapo College, Nelson earned his Bachelor of Science degree in American Studies. A two-year varsity basketball player, Nelson led the Roadrunners in three-point field goal percentage (.397) and in three-point shots made (29), as a senior. He appeared in all 51 games during his two seasons and graduated among the program's top-10 in three-point field goal percentage.
Nelson went on to earn a Master of Science degree in Sports Management from SUNY Cortland in 2015.
A native of Rockville Centre, Nelson is married to the former Erin Donovan.
What they're saying about Dagan Nelson:
Billy Donovan (Head Coach, Oklahoma City Thunder):
"Dagan's extensive recruiting reach across the country to identify the kinds of outstanding young men for the NYU program would be hard to replicate. I know he can motivate those young men to work hard. As a true New Yorker, I expect to pick up the paper and see NYU Basketball make national news as a winner. Dagan is the New Yorker who can do that."
Janice Quinn (NYU Senior Associate Director of Athletics, Head Coach of NYU's 1997 NCAA National Championship Women's Basketball Team):
"We are thrilled Dagan Nelson agreed to re-join the NYU family as the Head Men's Basketball Coach. His tremendous passion for both basketball and for NYU are self-evident. He brings not only two decades of coaching experience at every level of the game, but a truly exceptional ability to lead and mentor the great players we have in our program. I could not be more confident in Dagan's abilities to carry the great NYU Basketball tradition forward. "
Travis Ford (Head Men's Basketball Coach, St. Louis University)
"Having had Dagan on my staff at Eastern Kentucky University for two years, he is the total package. His ability to recruit, motivate, teach, lead, and inspire young people is second to none. He understands the importance of developing the total student athlete. He is a winner! NYU got better today!"
Joe Nesci (Retiring NYU Head Coach):
"I'm excited for Dagan. Having already been a part of the NYU basketball family, I know he'll bring intensity, energy and a great work ethic. We are leaving the program in great hands and I look forward to following him as he leads the Violets going forward."
John Brannen (Head Basketball Coach at Northern Kentucky University):
"Dagan Nelson is the most passionate, driven coach I have had the opportunity to work with in my 20 years in the profession. NYU has hired a complete coach. He will be a true CEO for the men's basketball program. Congratulation to both Dagan and NYU."