Brian Ayers begins his 19th season on the Bruins' coaching staff in 2016-17, and sixth as associate head coach.
During Ayers' 18 seasons, Belmont has averaged 20 wins per season, including 25 wins per season over the last six campaigns.
Ayers specializes in post-play instruction - offensive moves, footwork, positioning, and team defense. His instruction is one of the main reasons why Belmont is annually among the nation's leaders in field goal percentage shooting and offensive efficiency. In fact, Belmont has led the nation in two-point field goal percentage three of the last four seasons, and has ranked Top 30 in that category eight consecutive seasons.
Among many remarkable case studies for Ayers is rising senior Evan Bradds. A traditional small forward with guard skills, Ayers has worked in concert with Coach Byrd to develop Bradds into one of the nation’s most impactful post players. Whether scoring along the baseline or back to the basket, Bradds thrived in 2014-15, edging out Duke All-American Jahlil Okafor to lead the nation in field goal percentage (.688). Bradds earned All-OVC and NABC All-District honors. In 2015-16, Bradds took his game to another level, once again leading the nation in field goal percentage (.714) while garnering AP Honorable Mention All-America, Mid-Major All-America, USBWA and NABC All-District, and OVC Player of the Year honors. In fact, entering 2016-17, Bradds (.690; 507-of-735) ranks first in NCAA Division I men's basketball in field goal percentage since the statistical category was first tracked in 1948.
Himself a productive post player at Lipscomb University for college basketball's all-time winningest head coach Don Meyer, Ayers has been instrumental in developing Belmont's forwards and centers. From 2010-12, Mick Hedgepeth and Scott Saunders ranked among the Atlantic Sun Conference leaders in field goal percentage, rebounding and blocked shots en route to all-conference honors.
The post duo added to the Bruin tradition of efficiency in the paint, not to mention excellence in the classroom. Then in 2013, Ayers helped elevate the play of forward Trevor Noack, who scored double figures in 21 games and ranked among the OVC leaders in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage. In 2014, Ayers expanded the games of seniors Drew Windler and Blake Jenkins - traditional wing players who gave consistent production in the paint and spearheaded another conference championship and 26-win campaign.
Six recent Bruin post standouts - Adam Sonn, Boomer Herndon, Andrew Preston, along with Hedgepeth, Saunders and Noack - have gone on to enjoy professional careers overseas. Sonn was named Atlantic Sun Player of the Year in 2003, while all-time great Adam Mark became only the sixth player ever to lead the NCAA in field goal percentage in consecutive seasons. Mark's .708 field goal percentage as a sophomore was the fifth-highest single-season field goal percentage in NCAA history. Mark ran his total of A-Sun Player of the Week honors to seven, the second most in conference history en route to back-to-back first team All-Atlantic Sun accolades.
In 2007-08, Ayers helped expand the game of forward Matthew Dotson - who showcased a variety of back to the basket moves in Belmont's near-upset of three-time National Champion Duke in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
His continued work and patience with former all-conference centers Boomer Herndon and Andrew Preston reaped huge dividends as the `Twin Tower' duo ranked second and third in the Atlantic Sun in field goal percentage respectively in 2006-07. A year earlier, the Bruins led the Atlantic Sun and ranked fourth nationally in field goal percentage (.493). Moreover, Ayers helped Belmont enjoy one of the greatest single-season improvements in rebounding margin in program history - a big reason why the Bruins reached their first NCAA Tournament.
The long line of productive post players for Belmont will now be passed on to the likes of Tyler Hadden, Nick Smith, Josh Lester, Amanze Egekeze, Mack Mercer and Seth Adelsperger.
Besides his work with the Bruins in the paint, he also handles opponent scouting, recruiting, and works in concert with the strength and conditioning staff on the individual workout programs for Belmont student-athletes.
Ayers, a native of Clarksville, Tennessee, spent two years on staff at Vanderbilt University. During that time, the Commodores made one trip to the NCAA tournament. Prior to that, he served as an assistant coach at Austin Peay. While with the Governors' program, Austin Peay won the 1996 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Brian also served as an assistant coach at Nashville's David Lipscomb High School for one season, helping the Mustangs to a 28-6 record and the Class AA semifinals in 1995.
Ayers played his college basketball at Lipscomb University. He served as team captain his junior and senior years and earned NAIA Academic All-America honors. During Ayers' four year career, the Bisons compiled a record of 141-18 and advanced to one NAIA Final Four, two Elite Eights, and one Sweet Sixteen. He graduated from Lipscomb in 1993 while earning a master's degree in sports management from Austin Peay State University in 1996.
Brian and his wife Jill, a 1989 Belmont graduate, have four sons between them: Daniel, Taylor, Liam and Luke.