WASHINGTON, D.C. – Nationally recognized assistant coach and legendary DMV basketball star Duane Simpkins has been hired to usher in a new era of American University men’s basketball, announced Director of Athletics and Recreation Dr. Billy Walker. Simpkins is the 18th head coach in the history of the program.
We are thrilled to welcome Duane Simpkins, a proven talent and respected coach into our AU Athletics family,” said Walker. “His passion for positively shaping the lives of young student-athletes was evident during the selection process. His close ties to the area as a coach and player, along with a tremendous recruiting acumen and unbending character, make him an ideal choice to lead our program. Duane is truly a changemaker.
I want to thank all the quality coaches who showed interest in the position. It speaks volumes to the basketball tradition and current standing of American University. I also thank our alumni and members of the campus community who participated in the search and gave valuable insight throughout. I know Coach Simpkins is ready to hit the ground running, and the Eagles everywhere will be supporting him moving forward.
Dr. Billy Walker, American University Director of Athletics and Recreation
Simpkins comes to American after eight seasons on the staff at George Mason, working alongside two head coaches during his tenure.
During his time in Fairfax, Simpkins helped guide the Patriots to a series of new program bests within the Atlantic 10. Mason set or matched A-10 program bests in league wins and tournament seeds in four seasons during his tenure. The Patriots matched a program best with 11 Atlantic 10 victories in 2022-23, and finished at 20-13 overall.
In 2020, Simpkins was named one of the country’s Top 50 Most Impactful Mid-Major Assistants by Silverwaves Media. In addition, he earned an invite to Top Connect – which brings premier athletic directors and assistant coaches together – in each of the past two seasons. At the 2019 Final Four, Simpkins participated in the Collegiate Coaching Consortium, sponsored by AthleticDirectorU and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).
Simpkins played a major role in the Patriots’ culture of player development. The A-10 Most Improved Player Award went to George Mason in three of the past six seasons.
While at Mason, Simpkins served on the A-10 Commission on Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and the George Mason Athletics Diversity & Inclusion Committee.
Coach Simpkins’ outstanding basketball accomplishments and deep roots in the DC region will lead American University men’s basketball to great success. A proven winner with integrity and character, he will help us compete and thrive at the highest levels of competition. Coach Simpkins exemplifies the American University spirit of community and will support our student-athletes on the court, in the classroom, and in their growth and pursuits as people. He will be a leader in our community for all AU Eagles.
American University President Sylvia Burwell
Simpkins joined the Patriots after three seasons with the UNCG Spartans, where he served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. In his first full season, Simpkins brought in seven newcomers for 2013-14 that included three All-State selections from North Carolina.
Prior to UNCG he served one year at Towson as the coordinator of basketball operations. Previously, Simpkins was the head coach at St. Albans School in D.C. from 2007-11 and at Sidwell Friends School from 2005-07. He also served as an assistant coach at Bishop O’Connell High School in 1999-2000.
A DMV basketball legend, Simpkins earned McDonald’s High School All-America honors at DeMatha Catholic High School under legendary Hall of Fame coach Morgan Wootten, and was just the third freshman to make DeMatha’s varsity team.
He was a three-time honorable mention All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection at the University of Maryland, helping the Terrapins to three NCAA appearances, including a pair of Sweet 16 showings. A three-year starter and captain under coach Gary Williams from 1992-96, Simpkins finished his career with 1,123 points over 119 games. He was a career 81 percent free-throw shooter and his 483 career assists still rank him eighth on the Terrapins’ all-time list.
Simpkins’ professional playing career 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.
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.
There will be a public press conference at Bender Arena in the coming days to introduce Coach Simpkins to American University fans, staff, students and media. Details will be posted on AUEagles.com when they become available.