By Akin Taylor | April 10, 2023
From left: Ekow King, Assistant to the VP for Student Affairs for Intercultural Engagement, Equity & Inclusion; Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach Dan Madhavapallil; UAlbany Director of Equity & Compliance Amelia Barbadoro; Head Men’s Basketball Coach Dwayne Killings
Photo Credit: University at Albany
Meet Daniel Madhavapallil, the new men’s basketball assistant coach who's making waves at the University at Albany. Despite being a first year assistant head coach, Daniel's passion and dedication to his craft have quickly made him a standout among his peers.
Madhavapaillil's parents are originally from India, and moved in September 1995 to 25 miles west of Chicago in Wheaton, Illinois. Like many people from the Chicago area, he grew up watching the legendary Michael Jordan, the often agreed-upon greatest basketball player of all time and cultural icon. Jordan had an impact not only on his life but his brother’s as well.
Discussing his upbringing, Madhavapallil shared about his brother who has Fragile X syndrome, which causes mild to severe intellectual disability. Symptoms include delays in talking, anxiety, and hyperactive behavior - but Madhavapallil noted it didn’t stop his brother from pursuing basketball. He joked that his brother stuck his tongue out like Jordan while playing.
His brother’s basketball pursuit inspired him to do the same, which led him to meet his high school basketball coach Bob Ward. According to Madhavapallil, Ward showed him that coaching was more than a task and was enjoyable and “cool.” This inspired him to pursue coaching to apply the same impact on other people’s lives.
Madhavapallil began his basketball journey as team manager during his freshman year attending undergraduate studies at Marquette University, a position he worked all four years while he was a student from 2012-2016. He was promoted to a program assistant position from 2016-2018, where he assisted in scouting reports and summer camps and coordinated team travel. Subsequently operating as director of basketball operations from 2019-21, Madhavapallil worked nine seasons all together at Marquette.
While at Marquette, he watched and coached multiple players from the program who went on to the pro league in Europe and the NBA. According to Madhavapallil, Markus Howard was the standout player that came up, arriving at the school for the 2016-17 season.
Howard, as a freshman, averaged 13.2 points per game, and led the country in three-point shooting at 54.7%. Howard was named to the Big East conference all-freshman team at 17. Maturing the young star out of New Jersey to buy in was imperative for his success and the team. Howard became Marquette's all-time leading scorer when he contributed 38 points in an 88–53 victory against Loyola in the team's season opener of his senior year. Howard stayed all four years but went undrafted in the 2020 draft. Later, he was picked up by the Denver Nuggets on a two-way contract. Howard is currently playing for Saski Baskonia of the Spanish Liga ACB.
Some of the other players Madhavapallil coached that made the NBA are Sam Hauser of the Celtics, D.J. Carton of the Iowa Wolves, and Justin Lewis of the Chicago Bulls.
At Marquette, Madhavapallil and Killings developed a great friendship, leading to him following Killings to UAlbany. Leaving such a prominent program to a smaller one will come with some tough beginnings.
When it came to the future of UAlbany basketball, Madhavapallil said “we’re still building up the culture that we want.” He also confidently stated “there’s not very many places, you know in the country you have the best jobs in the conference.”
Madhavapallil knows there will be challenges ahead, but sees potential in the “three to four years where year after year [UAlbany Men’s Basketball] is in the conversation for winning [conference] championships.”