Return of the native: Lebanon’s Estes moves basketball career to Dartmouth

  • Braeden Estes, Dartmouth's director of basketball operations, left, yells encouragement to guard Taurus Samuels as head coach David McLaughlin watches during the first half of the Big Green's game with Princeton in Hanover, N.H., on Jan. 22, 2022. Estes, a 2015 Lebanon High School graduate, has been on the job since late October. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News — Geoff Hansen

  • Dartmouth men's basketball director of operations Braeden Estes works in the office before heading across the hallway for warmups at Leede Arena in Hanover, N.H., on Jan. 22, 2022. Estes, a 2015 Lebanon High School graduate, handles everything from travel logistics to video to scouting to player development for the team. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to valley News — Geoff Hansen

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    ESPN+ analyst and former Dartmouth men's basketball coach Dave Faucher, left, and Dartmouth’s director of basketball operations Braeden Estes talk while watching Princeton warm up before the Ivy League game in Hanover, N.H., on Jan. 22, 2022. Faucher was a volunteer coach when Estes played at Lebanon High School and said he gave a recommendation for the student manager position Estes landed on the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team. "He's a hard worker," Faucher said. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to valley news — Geoff Hansen

  • Lebanon's Braeden Estes guards Coe Brown's Adam Edin during their game in Lebanon, N.H., on Feb. 23, 2015. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to valley news file

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/22/2022 9:29:43 PM
Modified: 1/22/2022 9:28:27 PM

HANOVER — Braeden Estes first interviewed for the Dartmouth College men’s basketball director of operations position last summer.

Estes, a 2015 Lebanon High graduate, was back in the Upper Valley after his second season as a graduate assistant at the University of South Florida. He reached out to Dartmouth associate head coach Justin Bradley, who allowed him to observe one of the Big Green’s workouts as the job opened up. But despite his local ties and his ambition, Estes was not offered the job.

He returned to USF for two more months, but in late October, the Dartmouth job unexpectectedly became open again — and this time, Estes received the offer on the spot.

“I packed up all my stuff in Tampa, I rented a U-Haul and I drove up the East Coast from Friday to Sunday and started in Hanover on Monday,” Estes said.

It’s seemingly a perfect role for Estes, who has spent most of his life involved with basketball in the region. In fifth grade, he started a local AAU program that he helped name the Lebanon Longhorns, because he loved watching Kevin Durant, who was playing for the University of Texas at the time.

Estes then played for head coach Kieth Matte at Lebanon and was a captain as a senior, helping the Raiders reach the state semifinals during his junior and senior seasons. Lebanon was also undefeated against rival Hanover during his time there.

“He was a good player in an era when we had some great players,” Matte said. “He needed to be sort of a role player-type guy, and he embraced this role. He always knew what to do, he had good technical skills, good instincts, and he could shoot the ball.”

After graduating from Lebanon, Estes went on to the University of New Hampshire, where he worked as a student manager for the men’s basketball team under coach Bill Herrion. He had opportunities to play college basketball at the Division III level but had more connections at UNH, and the program was looking for managers.

At first, Estes did mostly smaller tasks like wiping sweat off the court, filming practices and handing water bottles to players, but once the team recognized his passion for learning about the game, they gave him more responsibilities, including helping review film on the Wildcats’ upcoming opponents. He also helped the team on the court during practice, serving as a defender or passer in various drills.

“I was hanging around as much as I could with the assistant coaches, with the players, anyone I could be around to be a part of the program,” Estes said. “I had a lot of video responsibilities, as far as video exchange with other teams before and after games, helping Coach Herrion and the assistants in the scouting process. I was fortunate to get my hands on a lot of different things at UNH.”

Herrion’s brother, Tom Herrion, was an assistant coach at South Florida when Estes graduated from UNH in 2019 with a degree in business administration. Estes wanted to go into coaching, so Bill Herrion called Tom to see if he had an open position. Two months after graduating, Estes had moved to Tampa to join the Bulls’ coaching staff while pursuing a graduate degree in physical education.

Like at UNH, Estes’ biggest responsibilities at USF were in video and scouting, but he was more active on the court, playing as a scout team member in practice — running the offensive and defensive sets that the Bulls’ next opponent would throw at them in the game.

“I had my hands involved in a lot of different aspects of the program at UNH, but it was to another degree at South Florida,” Estes said. “It was so good for my growth. My biggest role as the graduate assistant was getting to spend three or four hours every single morning on the court working guys out, putting them through drills, sometimes just talking with them and seeing where their heads were at.”

Estes had worked at some of Dartmouth’s summer basketball camps before taking the job there, so head coach David McLaughlin and his staff knew who he was. McLaughlin said Estes handled the disappointment of initially not getting the job well, which made it easier for him to make the offer in the fall.

Dartmouth has a considerably smaller basketball staff than USF, so Estes handles everything from travel logistics — he planned the Big Green’s entire agenda for their 10-day trip to California in December — to video and scouting to player development.

“I love the fact that we have someone on our staff from the area, who understands the area, loves the Upper Valley,” McLaughlin said. “My hope is that as he’s a young coach, I can continue to help mentor him and allow him to continue to grow in this profession.”

Estes’ long-term goal is to be a Division I head coach, but he understands there are many paths to that destination. He can try to work his way up through the lower levels of college basketball, through player development with an NBA team, through coaching at a prep school or even internationally.

For now, though, he’s content to be back home.

“Not getting the job this summer helped me put my head down and get back to work and figure out what else I had to get better at,” Estes said.

“I’d love to stay here. I’d love to continue helping this team improve. We have some really talented young players here who I want to keep working with over the next few years and hopefully be a part of the next Ivy League champion Dartmouth program.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at or 603-727-3302.

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