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Coaching Staff

Dave Paulsen

Head Coach

George Mason University named Dave Paulsen as the 10th head coach in the history of the men's basketball program on March 30, 2015. Paulsen came to Mason from Bucknell, where he earned Patriot League Coach of the Year honors on three occasions.

In his second season at the helm at Mason in 2016-17, Paulsen engineered one of the best turnarounds in the country while leading the Patriots to a number of program firsts. One of the top-20 most improved teams in the nation, Mason posted a 20-14 record, marking a nine-win improvement from the 2015-16 campaign. During the 13th 20-win season in program history, the Patriots set a new program record for A-10 wins (9) and earned the first Atlantic 10 Tournament victory in school history, despite entering the year as one of the 50 most inexperienced teams in the nation (six freshmen, five sophomores). The team's 20 wins marked the most by a Patriot squad since the 2012-13 campaign.

Paulsen and his staff proved instrumental in the development of Marquise Moore, who garnered the Chris Daniels Atlantic 10 Most Improved Player Award and earned NABC District 4 First Team honors. The 6-foot-2-inch Moore was the top rebounding guard in the nation and his 10.9 rebounds/game were the most by a Div. I guard since the stat was kept nationally by the NCAA in 1993-94. His 20 double-doubles also marked the most by a guard since 2009-10.

In his first season leading the the Patriots in 2015-16 season, Paulsen led Mason to the championship game of the 2015 Gildan Charleston Classic, uprooting Power 5 opponents Ole Miss and Oklahoma State to face nationally-ranked Virginia in the title game. Mason also knocked off NCAA Tournament participant and A-10 regular season co-champion VCU during the regular season. Paulsen also helped mentor senior Shevon Thompson to a NBA Summer League mini-camp invite with the New Orleans Pelicans. Thompson now plays for the Erie Bayhawks in the NBA Developmental League.

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Zack Curran

Director, Basketball Operations

Zack Curran joined head coach Dave Paulsen's staff as director of basketball operations in August 2019. Prior to Mason, Curran served as Director of Hoop Group Elite Camps, a series of elite basketball camps considered a world leader in college exposure and skill instruction for high school athletes. As director, Curran handled recruitment and logistics for the organization's Elite Camps and Tournaments

A DMV native, Curran worked as an assistant coach at Marymount University in Arlington in 2015-16. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 2015 and aided the basketball program as a practice player/member of the scout team during his time in Blacksburg. "I am so grateful and excited to join George Mason Men's Basketball," Curran said. "Growing up in Northern Virginia, I witnessed the passion and support the Mason community has for this team. I can't thank Coach Paulsen enough for allowing me to be a part of what he is building here." Coach Paulsen on Curran... "We're excited to have Zack as part of our staff," Paulsen said. "While at the Hoop Group, he ran some of the largest camps and tournaments on the Eastern Seaboard. That job has prepared him well for all the duties and responsibilities a director of operations faces on a daily basis. What I like about Zack Is that he can handle a series of converging tasks while keeping his composure. He also has formed connections and relationships with so many high school and AAU coaches and I think that will pay dividends for our program down the road."

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Dane Fischer

Assistant Coach

Dane Fischer joined the George Mason men's basketball team as an assistant coach in April 2015 and is widely recognized as a tireless recruiter, elite basketball tactician, and one of the rising stars in the coaching business.

This past season, George Mason was one of the most improved teams in the country, winning 20 games and setting a new school record for A-10 Conference wins. Much of the turn-around can be attributed to a new offensive system that Fischer was heavily involved in designing and implementing. Fischer also mentored senior guard Marquise Moore ,who was named the Atlantic 10's 2016-17 Most Improved Player.

In the staff’s first season, the Patriots set a school record for conference wins since joining the Atlantic 10 (broken again in 2016-17), and advanced to the championship game of the 2015 Gildan Charleston Classic. During the run to the title game, the Patriots uprooted Power 5 opponents Ole Miss and Oklahoma State to face nationally-ranked Virginia in the title game. Fischer was also the lead recruiter of freshman Otis Livingston II who led the Patriots in scoring (11.9 ppg) and assists (114) and earned A-10 All-Rookie honors while being tabbed the 2016 VaSID Rookie of the Year. Livingston II led all freshmen in the A-10 in scoring and minutes per game.

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Aaron Kelly

Assistant Coach

Aaron Kelly was hired as an assistant coach for the George Mason men's basketball team on April 10, 2015. He begins his third season with the Patriots in 2017-18.

Kelly serves as the Patriots' recruiting coordinator and has played an intricate role in bringing Coach Paulsen's first wave of talented student-athletes into the program. He also works closely with Mason's post players. Kelly helped develop Jalen Jenkins into a elite big man in the Atlantic 10 in 2017-18. After averaging between seven and eight points in each of his first three years, Jenkins as a senior posted career highs in scoring average (12.0 ppg), rebounding (6.1 rpg), field goal percentage (.612) and assists (65).

Kelly followed coach Paulsen to Mason after recently completing his seventh year on the Bison’s men's basketball staff, his sixth as an assistant coach after serving as the program’s manager of basketball operations in 2008-09. Prior to coming to Bucknell, Kelly was assistant coach under Paulsen at Williams in 2007-08.

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Duane Simpkins

Assistant Coach

Duane Simpkins was hired as an assistant coach with the George Mason men's basketball team on April 24, 2015. He begins his second season with the Patriots in the 2016-17 campaign.

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.

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.

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Graduate Manager

Bryson Johnson joined the George Mason men’s basketball staff as a graduate manager for the 2015-16 season after playing two years professionally. After two seasons in Fairfax, Johnson spent a year as an assistant coach at Brown University. He returned to Mason to serve under Paulsen and begin pursuing his doctorate in higher education in summer 2018.

Johnson was a four-year men’s basketball letter winner and two-year captain at Bucknell University under the leadership of Dave Paulsen, helping lead the Bison to two NCAA Men’s Basketball appearances and one NIT appearance. Johnson was a member of a Bison squad that recorded three straight Patriot League regular season championships and was the winningest class at their time of graduation, posting a 92-41 record. The 11th leading scorer in Bucknell history, Johnson recorded 1,384 career points in his collegiate career, earning Second Team All-League recognition in addition to Patriot League All-Tournament Team and Patriot League All-Rookie Team honors. Johnson was a two-time recipient of the Malcolm E. Musser Award for Leadership and was presented with the John F. Zeller Award as a senior.

Following graduation, Johnson played professionally with the Fraport Skyliners in Germany and spent a year playing in the NBL Canadian Basketball league. While with the Skyliners, Johnson helped the team reach a playoff appearance.

A 2013 graduate from Bucknell with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, Johnson was a two-time Student Athletic Committee member and member of the Bucknell Leadership Academy. A strong student off the court, Johnson twice earned Capital One Academic All-District Team accolades in addition to being a two-time Academic All Northeast Region and three-time Academic All-League honoree. He was also a member of the Student Choices Committee and involved in numerous community service outreach opportunities.

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Graduate Manager

Tyler Jorns returned to the George Mason University men's basketball team in 2017 as a graduate manager.

Jorns is a familiar face within the Mason program, having served four seasons as the head undergraduate student manager from 2009-13 and another three years as director of player development from 2013-15. During his undergraduate career, Jorns earned valuable experience as a student assistant at the USA U-17 Basketball Camp, HoopGroup Basketball Camp and ESPNHS National High School Invitational. As director of player development, Jorns managed video operations for the Patriots while serving as co-director of camps.

In 2015, Jorns earned a video internship with the Utah Jazz where he continued to develop his film editing and breakdown skills. At the conclusion of his internship, he moved back into the college game and served a two-year stint as director of operations at the United States Air Force Academy.

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Robert "Handy" Handerahan is in his 20th season at George Mason. He has served as the strength and conditioning coach for the men's basketball team during numerous NCAA Tournament appearances, the 2006 Final Four and multiple NIT berths while mentoring four CAA Players of the Year. Handerahan also works with other George Mason teams, designing training programs for student-athletes to prevent injury and enhance performance. A few of these athletes earned recognition as Olympians, National Champions, All-Americans and all-conference selections. He has lectured on training methodology to coaching delegations representing China, Russia, Venezuela, Libya, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Argentina, Azerbaijan and Tel Aviv/Jerusalem through the U.S. State Department Visitors Program.

Handerahan came to George Mason from the University of Illinois where he earned a Master's Degree in Kinesiology. During his time with the Illini, he worked with NFL draft picks, several All-Americans and Big Ten Players of the Year.

Prior to Illinois, Handerahan earned a Bachelor's of Science in Exercise Science from Bloomsburg University. He worked as the strength coach at Southern Columbia High School; the team won the 1994 state title in football. He worked with the Pennsylvania State Player of the Year and several All-State football selections. In April 2010, he was a team member inductee into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, Romanoski Chapter.

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Rebekah Schmidt joined the George Mason Athletic Training staff in October, 2014 after stints as an Assistant Athletic Trainer at Barry University and Marist College. In addition to being the primary athletic trainer with men’s basketball, Schmidt also works with Mason baseball.

Schmidt came to Fairfax after serving a year as Assistant Athletic Trainer at Barry University in Miami, Florida working directly with men’s basketball and baseball. In addition, Schmidt assisted with men’s soccer and rowing. While at Barry, Schmidt implemented rehabilitation programs, imaging for student-athletes, injury tracking software and new concussion management documentation. Schmidt also served as an adjunct professor teaching two classes at the University.

Prior to Barry, Schmidt served as Assistant Athletic Trainer for three years at Marist College in New York. While at Marist, Schmidt worked directly with men’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s swimming & diving, women’s soccer and assisted with football. Schmidt also acted as the Medical Director for MAAC Championships on three occasions and oversaw preparticipation evaluation process of all 600 student-athletes.

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When visitors enter the George Mason men's basketball office, the first person to greet you is Carolyn Marsh. The basketball secretary has provided support services to the men's program from 1981-96 and again from 1998 to the present.

Marsh's association with George Mason began in 1970 when her husband, Jay, was a student and player for the Patriot basketball team, and both have been fixtures at the university ever since. Jay currently is the Senior Associate Athletic Director for Event Administration at George Mason. Carolyn served as a secretary in the athletic department and with the Sports Information Department before moving permanently to the basketball office.

In addition to providing daily services to the program, Marsh is one of its biggest supporters. She can be found in the first row directly behind the team bench at home games in the Patriot Center.

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