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PRINCETON — Skye Ettin remembers sitting in the Jadwin Gymnasium bleacher as a kid, decked out in his orange and black and cheering on the Princeton men’s basketball team.
Never did he imagine that one day he would be part of the coaching staff for him hometown team.
But here he is, the former All-CVC standout at Princeton High and three-year captain at The College of New Jersey, helping the Tigers get ready to play a Sweet 16 game against Creighton on Friday night in Louisville.
“I think for all of us growing up dreaming of an NCAA Tournament and making a run, and now it’s a reality,” Ettin said. “Doing it in the town I grew up in and (with) a program I’ve followed for so long it’s special in a lot of ways.”
Ettin is in his eighth season as part of head coach Mitch Henderson’s staff. He got his foot in the door at Princeton by working a summer camp after a recommendation from former Princeton assistant Howard Levy, who was on Pete Carril’s staff.
In 2015-16, he was hired as director of basketball operations and promoted to assistant coach a year later.
“I knew pretty early on that I wasn’t going to come here as a player,” Ettin said with a laugh. “This is my eighth season and every year I’m learning something knew, I’m experiencing something new. I’m really excited to be here.”
There’s been great staff continuity as well. Associate head coach Brett MacConnell has been here since 2012 and director of basketball operations Chris Mongilia since 2016.
“I think we play off our strengths really well,” said Ettin, who aspires to be a Division I head coach. “Coach Henderson has done a really good job of leading us. We know each other so well, so before anyone says anything we know how to move, how to operate and we’re in sync with each other.”
Ettin and MacConnell had the scouts for the NCAA Tournament wins over Missouri and Arizona.
“We’ve been together now for years, continuity with the team makes a huge difference,” Henderson said. “The guys hear and know the same languages. We’ve recruited and coached all of these guys. There are no new voices from that spot.
“Brett is a head coach. I’m hopeful he’ll get named head coach soon. Some AD is going to get really lucky. Skye is a rising star in the making. I always say good players make good coaches and good staffs make good coaches.”
This staff has Princeton in a place it hasn’t been in 56 years.
“They are just so close, they are so connected and they really care about each other,” Ettin said. “They really fight for each other, which has been evident for the world to see in the NCAA Tournament. They are just unafraid of the moment.”
And a new memory for the hometown kid.
“I came here for Princeton-Kansas, Princeton-UNC,” Ettin said. “There’s a lot of moments I’ve been here. This is amazing in a lot of ways.”
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