LOUDONVILLE — Growing up in Mechanicville, Jonathan Pickett rooted for the Siena men’s basketball program and a Saints jersey with Edwin Ubiles’ No. 23 on it was one of his prized possessions.
Pickett kept that fandom to himself during his years attending UAlbany — and while working with that school’s men’s and women’s basketball programs.
“It’s funny how things work out,” Pickett said Monday, several days after the Siena men’s basketball program announced the 23-year-old was the new special assistant to head coach Carmen Maciariello.
A 2016 graduate of Mechanicville High School and a 2020 graduate of UAlbany, Pickett expressed gratitude Monday for what he was able to learn from the UAlbany basketball programs and excitement for his new role with the Saints. Pickett said, too, that the response from his hometown community in Mechanicville following the announcement Thursday of his new role took him by surprise.
“My phone has just blown up like I’ve never seen it before,” Pickett said. “The support I’ve received, not just from the UAlbany and Siena communities, but also from Mechanicville — I have no words to describe how the community has rallied behind and supported me with it.”
While earning undergraduate degrees in accounting and financial management, Pickett spent two years apiece with the UAlbany men’s and women’s basketball programs in a variety of roles. He started as a practice player with the Joanna Bernabei-McNamee-led women’s basketball program, then shifted into working as a team manager. With Will Brown’s men’s basketball program, Pickett was a manager for two years, then — after graduating — spent last season as a volunteer director of analytics. In that role last season, Pickett developed a shot-tracking system, figured out tendencies of opponents and worked on other special projects.
When Brown and his coaching staff were dismissed in March, Pickett had to figure out what was next for himself. He said he was in the mix for a few different graduate-assistant positions, but was alerted to the opening for a special assistant at Siena after the Saints’ coaching staff experienced several changes this offseason. As part of those changes, former special assistant Matt Miner became the program’s director of basketball operations after the previous occupant of that position — Greg Fahey — was promoted to become an assistant coach. Former UAlbany assistant coach Josh Pelletier — now an assistant coach at UMBC — suggested to Pickett that he try to secure the open spot at Siena, and the former Mechanicville High School basketball player was successful in doing that.
Pickett said his relationship with Carmen Maciariello is mostly a new one, but the Siena coach’s cousin — Nick Maciariello — was an assistant coach on the Mechanicville teams Pickett played on in high school for head coach Rian Richardson. Pickett now lives in Albany, but his family has strong roots in Mechanicville, and his grandfather Dan Pickett remains one of the high school’s all-time leading scorers.
At Siena, Jonathan Pickett’s last name has attracted attention — and some good-natured jokes — during his first days on the job. Former Saints star Jalen Pickett is now at Penn State, and Jonathan Pickett said he’s had more than a few people offer up how he’s the new “J-Pickett” at Siena.
“I’ve heard that one a lot,” said Jonathan Pickett, who counts former Siena players Ben Diamond and Elijah Burns among his friends. “They’ve had fun with that.”
In his new role, he’s having plenty of fun, too.
“It’s been a whirlwind right now,” Pickett said.