Ray, Joyner Named Assistant Coaches

Byington adds SEC-veteran Rick Ray, JMU-assistant Xavier Joyner to staff

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt men’s basketball head coach Mark Byington announced the addition of Rick Ray and Xavier Joyner as assistant coaches on Thursday.

Ray joins the Commodores following a four-year stint as an assistant at Colorado while Joyner spent the past four seasons on Byington’s James Madison staff.


A veteran of the SEC, Ray brings nearly 30 years of coaching experience to the Vanderbilt staff. Ray has spent the past four seasons as an assistant at Colorado where he helped the Buffaloes to a pair of NCAA Tournament berths and another two NIT appearances.

During his time in Boulder, the Buffaloes won 20 or more games in three seasons. He also helped Colorado land the 13th-ranked recruiting class in the nation in 2021.

“Rick is a high-level coach with great experience as both an assistant and head coach,” Byington said. “I will lean on him a lot in all areas here at Vanderbilt.”

Prior to his time at Colorado, Ray spent seven seasons as a head coach. He led Southeast Missouri for five seasons (2015-20) after spending three seasons at the helm of Mississippi State (2012-15). During his tenure in Starkville, Ray developed a pair of SEC All-Freshmen selections in Craig Sword and Gavin Ware.

Ray spent 15 seasons as an assistant before earning his first head coaching job. He served as the associate head coach at Clemson for two seasons (2010-12) following a four-year stint at Purdue (2006-10) and two-year tenure at Northern Illinois (2004-06). He began his coaching career at Indiana State where he spent seven seasons (1997-2004) on staff. During those 15 years as an associate or assistant, Ray helped his teams to seven NCAA Tournament appearances and a pair of Sweet 16 berths.

With Ray serving as associate head coach, Clemson won 38 games in two seasons including a 22-12 mark in 2010-11 with a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. During his tenure at Purdue, the Boilermakers made the NCAA Tournament every season and advanced to the Sweet 16 in each of his last two years. He also played a part in landing Purdue’s vaunted 2007 signing class which feature All-Americans Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore.

Ray played collegiately for Grand View (Iowa) College where he was an All-American Scholar Athlete in 1993. He earned a degree in applied mathematics and secondary education from Grand View in 1994 and a master’s in athletic administration from Nebraska-Omaha in 1997.


In his four years as an assistant coach at JMU, Joyner helped lead the squad to a program record 32 wins in 2023-24, a Sun Belt Conference championship and the first NCAA Tournament Round of 64 win since 1983. JMU posted an 82-36 record during the four-year tenure.

“Xavier has been with me the last four years and has done a tremendous job with developing players, recruiting high-level players and being a great mentor to the guys on our team,” said Byington. “I’m very happy he is with us, and I have great trust in his coaching ability and his character.”

Prior to joining Byington’s staff at JMU, Joyner accumulated a wealth of coaching experience at the collegiate, high school and AAU levels. He spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Mount St. Mary’s following a three-year stint as an assistant and scouting director at Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Va.

He also spent four seasons as an assistant with Nike Team Takeover in Washington, D.C. One of the elite AAU programs in the country, Joyner helped Nike Team Takeover to the Las Vegas FAB 48 title in 2017. He was also part of the coaching staff which led the 16U EYBL club to a No. 1 national ranking to close the season.

Joyner spent a decade as a head coach in the junior college ranks in Maryland, guiding Prince George’s Community College from 2010-15 and Montgomery College Germantown from 2004-10. During his tenures, Joyner racked up 200 victories between the two programs and is the only coach to win regional titles at two different schools in Maryland.

A 1995 graduate of Husson University in Bangor, Maine, Joyner led the Eagles to back-to-back Maine Athletic Conference championships and earned all-conference honors. He also garnered recognition in the form of the Allen Kenyon Leadership and Nelson Degrasse Scholar-Athlete Awards.