Getting to Know New Men’s Basketball Head Coach Kyle Neptune

Who is Kyle Neptune? New Men’s Basketball head coach explains why he chose Fordham, managing expectations and where he envisions the program moving forward.


Neptune (above) enters Fordham looking to bring a championship culture from Villanova with him. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Kyle Neptune was named the new head coach of Fordham Men’s Basketball back on March 30. He took some time to chat with me about all things on and off the court. Our conversation was edited and condensed for clarity.

Andrew Posadas: First things first, you were considered one of the more popular candidates in line to inevitably earn a head coaching position this offseason. Why ultimately choose Fordham as the start for your head coaching career?

Kyle Neptune: I’m a New York City native and for me, coming back home to NYC was a dream come true. And when you look at Fordham as a school, it’s unbelievable. The campus is impeccable. For me, there’s nothing better than living in NYC. Also, the academics. Fordham is a fringe top-50 school academics-wise and very well respected with prominent alums. When you talk about Fordham as a whole, even taking athletics out of the equation, it’s just a high-level school.

Getting to know some people here and having some conversations, you see how passionate people are about Fordham Basketball and Fordham in general. Being the head basketball coach, I would want to be able to tell recruits and tell people that our alums are very passionate about Fordham. Our alums love Fordham. That was a huge piece for me in just deciding what school was best for me. It was very apparent that Fordham had all those qualities.

Looking into basketball, obviously, the Atlantic 10 is an unbelievable conference and multi-bid league. As a team, I feel like the sky’s the limit here. I don’t see any reason why Fordham can’t be a major player in the A-10 and can’t compete to win conference championships.

AP: You mention Fordham’s passionate fanbase. It’s been nearly 30 years since Fordham Men’s Basketball last made an NCAA appearance and Ram fans are hopeful that you can lead the program back into March Madness. How do you manage those expectations of immediately putting out a competitive team while also building towards the future for sustainable success in the A-10?

KN: For us here, our goals are going to be our goals and we’re going to build this program with interior goals that we’ve focused on. The outside pressures are something you have to manage as a coach, player or person part of the program. I think the best players, teams and coaches block out anything external and just focus from within. Our goal is to hit the recruiting path hard and work with the guys already here. 

We’re going to push them hard to be better players, better students and great men as well. We’re going to try to excel in every facet of the game. Every year, we’re going to tell our guys we want to be the best version of ourselves by the end of the season. If we can truly be that at the end of each season, then it’s a success. That will be our mantra and our thought process moving forward.

AP: What’s your response to skeptics who believe recruiting prospective student-athletes successfully here at Fordham is too difficult?

KN: I just don’t see it that way. I feel like Fordham has a lot to offer being one of the premier schools, not only on the east coast but throughout the country. You talk about proximity. It’s in NYC, the best city in the world. It’s in the A-10 which is one of the top seven or eight leagues in the nation. Those things alone, I see no reason why Fordham wouldn’t be an attractive place for any student-athlete.

AP: Over eight years as an assistant coach at Villanova University, you worked closely with head coach Jay Wright and were fortunate enough to be part of two NCAA National Championship teams. How do you think your time there has prepared you for this moment now?

KN: First and foremost, Jay Wright is probably the best coach in the country, in my opinion. If not the best, he’s one of the best coaches in college basketball. What he has been able to accomplish at Villanova is truly amazing. Not just the two national championships, but a bunch of league championships and multiple NBA pros in the last six to seven years.

Other than that, all of his guys leave Villanova as great men. I believe — and I think Jay would say this as well — the greatest gift you can give someone is a different outlook on life. He has been extremely successful there, and I’ve been a cog in that machine. Hopefully, I can bring some of those things here, but also bring my own touch to it as well.

AP: You are also partnering with Athletic Director Ed Kull on an overall strategic mission to further elevate the national profile of Fordham Athletics and its student-athletes. How do you plan on doing that for Men’s Basketball?

KN: We want to be competitive in scheduling. We want to play some games in neutral site arenas available in New York, whether it’s Madison Square Garden or Barclays Center. We want to try and get some high-level competition here to play against. It really comes down to the team after that. If the team has a high level of success, all the recognition will be here as well. Honestly, we need to focus on building piece by piece and getting there the right way.

A return to his New York City roots is just one of the reasons Neptune is enthusiastic about leading Fordham basketball into the future. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

AP: Let’s switch gears, because I want our readers at The Fordham Ram to get to know you more personally. Everyone who loves basketball remembers the moment that they fell in love with the game. For you, when did you fall in love with basketball?

KN: Playing in the parks around NYC. I know that’s kind of a rarity nowadays, but I grew up walking down the street and playing in my local park where you had to earn your keep. Nothing was given and you had to make your own way. It fueled my competitive desire and passion so that’s definitely where I fell in love with basketball.

AP: After graduating from Lehigh, you played some professional basketball overseas until being introduced to the coaching side of the game. What prompted you to start coaching over continuing your playing career?

KN: I had a couple different stops playing overseas in Puerto Rico, Lithuania and Latvia. I was still in the mix trying to play for some teams. I think I was in Puerto Rico and something just clicked in me saying, ‘What would coaching be like?’ 

So, I came back to the city and eventually caught the coaching bug. Through a couple of different contacts, I connected with Villanova and everything happened quickly. It seemed like a month later, I was on the bench at Villanova as the video coordinator. I was very fortunate to have some incredible contacts in my network who came through for me.

AP: Favorite moment during your playing career?

KN: Wow, so many moments as a player. One, in particular, was at Lehigh — we beat American University in the Patriot League Championship [2003-04 season] and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. I always say this: winning one of those conference championships when you’re a one-bid league — that feeling you get — it’s not dissimilar to being on the big stage and winning a national championship. Just putting everything into something and knowing if you don’t get it done, you don’t get to taste the NCAA tournament. It was unbelievable.

AP: This might be the hardest question I ask you so far. When we look at the ever-growing basketball debate on who is the true G.O.A.T. between Michael Jordan and LeBron James, what side does Kyle Neptune fall on?

KN: Woah [chuckles]. That’s a hard one. You’re probably going to be mad at me but I think they’re completely different players from completely different times. I’d say with LeBron, I don’t think we’ve ever seen someone in basketball with his size, athleticism and intelligence. What he’s been able to accomplish on the floor in terms of winning championships with multiple teams. From an overall talent point of view, being a 6 foot 9 inch point guard, I would say LeBron. 

But, in terms of someone who helped their team win while also dominating the game, I’d also say Jordan. That’s the response I’m giving you. Jordan dominated his time better than anyone else dominated their time in the modern game. You would have to go back to players like Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell to say someone dominated the game more than Jordan. Like, there’s no one who dominated their prime better than M.J. I know that’s not exactly an answer, but that’s my answer.

AP: Then, who’s your favorite basketball player of all time?

KN: Michael Jordan.

AP: Fair enough. I also imagine you grew up a die-hard Knicks fan being a New York native. However, the team from your hometown of Brooklyn seems destined to capture this season’s NBA championship. Where does your loyalty lie right now: Knicks or Nets?

KN: Again, my answer would be split. I’m a New York guy so I root for all the professional New York teams. I’ve been out of town for a good portion of my life so I’m always going for the hometown team. It’s hard, honestly, as a college coach, to lock in and really be a fan of another team during your season. One thing for me is I’ve been fortunate enough to coach several players in the NBA right now. I tend to follow those guys and root for them as much as anyone. All about the hometown teams and current NBA players I’ve coached.

AP: When Kyle Neptune isn’t coaching or thinking about basketball, what are your likes and interests outside of basketball?

KN: Honestly, shame on you as a basketball coach if you have too many other hobbies. Like, this is a 24/7 thing. So, when I’m not coaching basketball, I’m recruiting. When I’m not recruiting, I’m watching basketball. This is all day, every day. I’m never not thinking about this or talking about this. Maybe I might get some time on the beach here and there just to recalibrate. But, other than that, I’m locked into basketball. I don’t really believe in hobbies.

AP: Finally, if I were to ask you what Fordham Men’s Basketball may potentially look like five years from now, how would you describe it?

KN: As a cohesive unit that plays the right way offensively and defensively. We want to be a tough, nasty bunch who competes on every possession. We are going to be the type of team that makes the Fordham community proud.