After the NCAC Tournament ended a few short weeks ago, the NCAC announced its end-of-season awards. Vinny Buccilla ’25 and Ahmoni Jones ’24 were selected to the First Team All-NCAC team—both well-earned awards. But after all the awards came down, one Little Giant was conspicuously missing from the awards list: Head Basketball Coach Kyle Brumett.
After losing three Wabash all-timers in Jack Davidson ’22, Kellen Schreiber ’22 and Tyler Watson ’22, NCAC coaches predicted Wabash to finish third in the conference and miss the NCAA tournament. So, after coming a few seconds short of winning the regular season title, winning the conference title and representing the NCAC in the NCAA tournament, it was a shock to see Wooster Head Coach Doug Cline named Coach of the Year.
Wooster had a great year, going 21-6 and winning the NCAC regular season title before losing to Wabash in the last seconds of the NCAC tournament, just missing the NCAA tournament. In most circumstances, Cline winning the award would make sense and not be a total snub. But these are not most circumstances.
Only one coach lost the best player in the country. And half his team’s scoring. And all of the seniors on his roster. And still won his conference tournament.
If any coach exemplified the excellence it takes to be the best coach in a conference, Kyle Brumett did that. With such a different team, to beat the expectations and perform well is the hallmark of great coaching.
In the 2021-2022 season, Brumett’s Little Giants scored nearly 90 points per game and averaged a margin of victory of 11, with Davidson and Watson scoring most of the points, especially from three. The proof of Brumett’s excellence is in the vast difference between that team and the one he fielded this year, which scored just over 75 points per game and worked primarily through the paint and from the free throw line. The best coaches can win in a number of ways, and Brumett did just that.
In combination to what Brumett put on the court, Brumett put on a coaching masterclass off the court with how he runs his team, encouraging and facilitating opportunities for players to get out into the Crawfordsville community for reading days at local schools. He also cultivated a roster that acted more like a family than it did just a team, inviting his players into his own home for dinner.
“Coach Brumett is good at what he does because he is truly invested our lives,” said junior forward Jones. “[Both] the lives we have on the basketball court, and the lives we have off the court. Coach Brum goes out his way to form genuine and personal relationships with everyone on his team. These relationships he forms with us offer a space to take constructive criticism and get better because of it. It gives us a space to talk about our lives and learn about what it takes to be a man and someday a father or husband.”
“I think the best way coach got us to beat the expectations was by allowing the players on our team to redefine who and what we wanted this program to represent,” added Jones. “We continued to create a close knit family where we knew every day that we were going to play, fight, lose and win together.”
Brumett is among the best that Wabash has to offer on the coaching front, and his performance this year should have earned him NCAC Coach of the Year honors—not just for being a great basketball coach, but for being a great role model and leader for his players.