Dave Paulsen completes George Mason basketball staff
“I’m really excited to add Dane and Duane to our coaching staff,” said Paulsen. “Collectively, along with Aaron Kelly, we have a group that will be excellent mentors to our student-athletes, outstanding coaches on the floor and dynamic recruiters with expertise in our geographic footprint. They will represent George Mason in a first-class manner and they are excited to be here.”
Fischer joins the Patriots after seven years at Bucknell under Paulsen as an assistant coach before being promoted to associate head coach in 2011. While at Bucknell, Fischer quickly became known as a tireless recruiter and basketball tactician. His early success in both departments, including the recruitment of two-time Patriot League Player of the Year, NBA Draft pick and current Atlanta Hawk Mike Muscala, helped lead to four Patriot League regular-season titles, two NCAA Tournament appearances and two NIT berths in five years.
“Dane has been my right-hand man for the last seven years at Bucknell,” Paulsen noted. “He is one of the best teachers of the game that I’ve have been around and was instrumental in the recruitment of Muscala and Ayers, who collectively won three Patriot League Player of the Year awards. Dane had his hand in every coaching, teaching and recruiting decision I made at Bucknell.”
Not only did Bucknell succeed on the court with Fischer on staff, but in the classroom as well claiming six Academic All-Patriot League spots, four Capital One Academic All-District selections and one national Academic All-American.
Prior to joining the staff at Bucknell, Fischer spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Rider, helping lead the Broncs to a school-record 23 victories and a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) regular-season championship in 2007-08. Also acting as the program’s recruiting coordinator, Fischer brought three all-conference and two all-rookie performers to the Lawrenceville, N.J., campus, and the 2011 class graduated with the most career wins in program history.
While at Rider, Fischer coached NBA lottery pick Jason Thompson, who was the top senior taken in the 2008 Draft being picked 12thoverall by the Sacramento Kings. The recipient of several accolades, Thompson was named the Haggerty Award winner as the 2008 Metropolitan Basketball Writers Player of the Year, Associated Press Honorable Mention All-America, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Player of the Year, District II Player of the Year by U.S. Basketball Writers and First Team All-District 3 team selection by the National Basketball Coaches. In addition, Thompson was an All-America selection by collegeinsider.com.
Fischer’s first coaching stint with Paulsen occurred at Williams College as an assistant coach from 2003-05. In those two seasons, Williams went 46-11 and finished as the national runner-up in 2004.
During his playing days at Ithaca College, Fischer was a two-time team captain and graduated ranked among the top 10 in program history in career assists and steals. He was a three-year starting point guard and helped lead the Bombers to an ECAC Upstate New York championship, and Empire Eight League title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. He was named team MVP and honorable mention all-conference, and he was the recipient of the Congdon Award, given to the player that best exemplifies what Ithaca College basketball represents. A native of Minnesota, he graduated with a degree in business administration and a minor in economics.
Fischer is married to the former Chelsea Chowning, a former women’s basketball Academic All-American at the University of Kentucky, where she graduated with her doctorate from UK’s College of Pharmacy.
A former standout at Maryland and local native, Simpkins joins the Patriots after three seasons with the UNC Greensboro Spartans where he served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. In his first full season, Simpkins brought in seven newcomers for the 2013-14 season marking the first full recruiting class for head coach Wes Miller. The highly-touted recruiting class featured three All-State selections from North Carolina including Clay Byrd and Diante Baldwin.
“I was impressed with Duane the first time I met him while he was coaching at St. Albans School in Washington, D.C. and he is highly respected among many high school coaches and UNCG Head Coach Wes Miller,” Paulsen remarked. “He obviously played at a high level in high school for Morgan Wootten, arguably the greatest high school coach, and was a standout player under Hall of Fame Coach Gary Williams at Maryland. He has great charisma and energy and teaching skills and I’m so excited he will be joining our staff.”
Quickly becoming known for his recruiting efforts, Simpkins also helped recruit the Maryland Player of the Year from Baltimore, Tevon Saddler, a year removed from signing another Baltimore standout in top-returning scorer Kayel Locke.
In 2013-14, Simpkins helped the Spartans record their most wins in a single-season since 2007-08 with 14 victories. In that same year, UNCG picked up just its second all-time victory against an ACC opponent, defeating Virginia Tech.
Simpkins arrived at UNCG after serving one year under Pat Skerry at Towson as the coordinator of basketball operations.
Prior to Towson, Simpkins was a head coach at St. Albans School in Washington, D.C. from 2007-11 and at Sidwell Friends School from 2005-07. Simpkins also served as an assistant coach at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Va., in 1999-2000.
Simpkins was an assistant compliance administrator at his alma mater in 2004-05 following a professional playing career that took him to China, Italy, the Dominican, France and Belgium, as well as the United States. Simpkins, who concluded his professional career with the Shandong Tigers in Shandong, China, played in the USBL and the ABA in the U.S. from 2000-02. He also played with the Memphis Grizzlies in the Summer Pro League.
A McDonald’s High School All-American at DeMatha Catholic High School under legendary Hall of Fame coach Morgan Wootten, Simpkins was just the third freshman to make the DeMatha’s varsity team.
Simpkins was a three-time honorable mention All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection at Maryland, helping the Terrapins to three NCAA appearances, including a pair of Sweet Sixteen showings. A three-year starter and captain under coach Gary Williams from 1992-96, Simpkins finished his career with 1,123 points over his 119-game career. He was a career 81.2 percent free throw shooter and his 483 career assists rank him seventh on the Terrapins’ all-time list.
The owner and director of “Power Through Sports” camps and clinics in Washington, Simpkins also has served as a basketball analyst for Comcast SportsNet.
Simpkins and his wife Kirsten have three kids – Kai, Darian and Elijah.