Brian Ayers (@coachbrianayers) begins his 23rd season on the Bruins' coaching staff in 2020-21, 10th as associate head coach, and second as a member of Casey Alexander's staff.
During Ayers' 22 seasons, Belmont has averaged 22 wins per season, including 25 wins per season over the last decade.
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 five of the last seven seasons, and has ranked Top 30 in that category 11 consecutive seasons.
The latest work come to life for Ayers is center Nick Muszynski, who became the first Belmont player of the program's NCAA Division I era to earn first team all-conference honors as a freshman and sophomore. Muszynski, a 2019 Freshman All-America selection, is on pace to become the Belmont NCAA Division I era career leader in scoring and blocked shots.
Among the top post coaches in America, Ayers has worked with two of the NCAA's all-time leaders in field goal percentage - Evan Bradds ('17) and Adam Mark ('04).
Bradds, the first Belmont student-athlete to be named AP All-American and conference Player of the Year in consecutive years, finished his career fourth in NCAA career field goal percentage (.667), after leading the nation in that category in 2015 and 2016. He was also named NABC and USBWA All-District and Mid-Major All-American.
For his part, Mark ranks 16th in NCAA history in field goal percentage (.644), and like Bradds, led the nation in field goal percentage his sophomore and junior 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.
Remarkably, Bradds and Mark are the last two NCAA Division I players to lead the nation in field goal percentage in consecutive seasons.
Eight of Ayers' last nine all-conference post players have gone onto professional playing careers, including 2018 graduate Amanze Egekeze.
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.
Adam Sonn was named Atlantic Sun Player of the Year in 2003 before a lengthy career overseas.
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 Muszynski, Derek Sabin, and Even Brauns.
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.