HANOVER — Braeden Estes was first interviewed last summer for the position of director of men’s basketball operations at Dartmouth College.
Estes, who graduated from Lebanon in 2015, was back in the Upper Valley after his second season as a graduate assistant at the University of South Florida. He contacted Dartmouth associate head coach Justin Bradley, who allowed him to observe one of Big Green’s practices when the position opened. But despite his local ties and ambition, Estes was not offered the job.
He returned to USF for two more months, but in late October the Dartmouth position unexpectedly became open again – and this time Estes got the offer on the spot.
“I packed all my stuff in Tampa, rented a U-Haul and drove up the East Coast Friday through Sunday and started in Hanover on Monday,” Estes said.
It’s apparently a perfect role for Estes, who has spent most of his life involved in basketball in the area. In fifth grade, he started a local AAU program which he helped name the Lebanon Longhorns because he enjoyed watching Kevin Durant, who was playing for the University of Texas at the time.
Estes then played for head coach Kieth Matte in Lebanon and captained as a senior, helping the Raiders reach the state semi-finals in both his junior and senior seasons. Lebanon were also unbeaten against rivals Hanover during their time there.
“He was a good player at a time when we had great players,” Matte said. “He had to be kind of a role player type, and he embraced that role. He always knew what to do, he had good technical skills, good instincts and he could shoot the ball.
After graduating from Lebanon, Estes went to the University of New Hampshire, where he worked as a student manager for the men’s basketball team under coach Bill Herrion. He had opportunities to play college basketball at the Division III level, but had more connections at UNH, and the program was looking for managers.
At first, Estes mainly did smaller tasks like wiping sweat on the field, filming practices and handing out water bottles to players, but once the team recognized his passion for learning the game, they gave him more responsibilities, including helping review the Wildcats movie. ‘ the next opponents. He also helped the team on the pitch during training, serving as a defender or passer in various drills.
“I was hanging out as much as I could with the assistant coaches, with the players, anyone I could be around to be part of the program,” Estes said. “I had a lot of video responsibilities, in terms of exchanging video with other teams before and after games, helping Coach Herrion and the assistants in the scouting process. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a lot of different things at UNH.
Herrion’s brother, Tom Herrion, was an assistant coach in South Florida when Estes graduated from UNH in 2019 with a degree in business administration. Estes wanted to coach, so Bill Herrion called Tom to see if he had a vacancy. Two months after graduating, Estes had moved to Tampa to join the Bulls coaching staff while pursuing a graduate degree in physical education.
Like at UNH, Estes’ main responsibilities at USF were video and scouting, but he was more active on the field, playing as a member of the scout team in training – directing the offensive and defensive sets that the Bulls’ next opponent would throw at them. in the game.
“I had my hands involved in a lot of different aspects of the program at UNH, but that was on a different degree in South Florida,” Estes said. “It was so good for my growth. My biggest role as a graduate assistant was spending three or four hours every morning in the field making the guys work, doing exercises, sometimes just talking with them and see where their heads were.
Estes had worked at some of Dartmouth’s summer basketball camps before taking the job there, so head coach David McLaughlin and his staff knew who he was. McLaughlin said Estes handled the disappointment of not getting the job properly initially, which made it easier for him to make the offer in the fall.
Dartmouth has a considerably smaller basketball staff than USF, so Estes handles everything from travel logistics — he planned the Big Green’s entire agenda for their 10-day trip to California in December. – video and player development scouting.
“I love that we have someone on our staff from the region who understands the region, loves the Upper Valley,” McLaughlin said. “I hope that as a young coach I can continue to help guide him and allow him to continue to grow in this profession.”
Estes’ long-term goal is to be a Division I head coach, but he understands there are many paths to that destination. He can try to work his way through the lower levels of college basketball, through player development with an NBA team, through training at a prep school, or even internationally.
For now, however, he is content to be back home.
“Not getting the job this summer helped me put my head down and get back to work and figure out what I still needed to improve on,” Estes said.
“I would like to stay here. I would like to continue to help this team improve. We have some really talented young players here who I want to continue working with over the next few years and hopefully be part of the next Ivy League champion program at Dartmouth.
Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at [email protected] or 603-727-3302.