Dave Thorson | Assistant Coach
Dave Thorson is in his second season as an assistant coach Dave Thorson for the Colorado State men's basketball program in 2019-20. Thorson spent the 2017-18 season on Medved’s staff at Drake after 23 extremely successful years as the head coach at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, Minn.
“Dave is a person I have known and admired for a long time,” Medved commented. “He is a tremendous coach and person and was one of the most successful coaches in Minnesota high school basketball. He brings that wealth of knowledge and character to our program here and I am excited to have him here at Colorado State as he will be a key part of achieving our goals.”
“The opportunity to work for Niko and with a fantastic staff, representing a university like Colorado State, is basketball nirvana for me,” Thorson said. “Rita, Ella Ray, and I are ecstatic to be a part of the Ram family. We look forward to calling Fort Collins home.”
At DeLaSalle, Thorson won nine state championships, including the program’s sixth-straight title in 2017, and amassed a 527-130 record in his 23 seasons. The nine state championships are the most by a coach in state history while the six-year championship streak is also a state record. His teams also finished as state runners-up twice, third once and fourth once.
Thorson’s teams captured 20 Tri-Metro Conference championships and won a conference record 72-straight games from 1998-02. He was named the Minnesota Class 3A Coach of the Year four times (2005, 2006, 2016 and 2017) and was a 12-time Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association Region Coach of the Year.
He began his coaching career as an assistant at South Dakota in 1989 and Minnesota from 1990-94, a span in which Medved was a part of the Golden Gophers’ program. In addition to his legendary career at DeLaSalle, he also served as the Islanders’ Vice President of Development and secured more than $29 million in funds for DeLaSalle, including the largest single and planned gifts in school history.
Thorson and his wife Rita and daughter Ella reside in Fort Collins.
JR Blount | Assistant Coach
JR Blount is in his second season as an assistant coach with the Colorado State men's basketball program in 2019-20. He spent the 2017-18 season on Medved's staff at Drake University, helping the Bulldogs to a 10-game turnaround from the previous year and most wins in Missouri Valley Conference action in 10 years.
Blount spent the previous four years on the Drake men's basketball staff, including serving the past year on Medved's staff as an assistant coach. Before joining Medved's staff in 2017-18, he had previously been an assistant coach for one season on the previous staff after having served his first two years as the Bulldogs' director of basketball operations.
Blount joined the Drake staff in 2014 following three successful seasons at Saint Leo University in Lakeland, Fla., where he was elevated to associate head coach for the 2013-14 season after two years as an assistant.
The Lions advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament in each of his three seasons on staff and won the program's first conference championship in 2012-13. He was also part of a NCAA Division III National Championship in 2009-10 as an assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
In addition to his on-court duties at Saint Leo, Blount oversaw the program's scheduling, recruiting, summer camps and individual player development. One of his pupils, guard Jerrell Harris, earned Division II All-America honors in 2013-14, while the Lions led the Sunshine State Conference in team defense thanks in part to conference Defensive Player of the Year Shaun Adams. In 2012-13, the program won its first NCAA Tournament game and earned a top-10 national ranking for the first time.
Prior to joining the staff at Saint Leo, Blount played professionally for a season in 2010-11 with the Leicester Riders of the British Basketball League. He led the team to the semifinals of the league championship, was ranked fourth in scoring and second in assists to earn All-Star and team MVP honors before returning to the sidelines.
Collegiately, Blount had a tremendous career at Loyola from 2005-09. He was the Ramblers team captain during his final three seasons and the squad's MVP in 2008 and 2009. He finished his career ranked ninth in points and 10th in assists at Loyola and was the school's Male Athlete of the Year in 2008 and 2009.
Upon graduating from Loyola with a degree in sociology and psychology, Blount began his coaching career during the 2009-10 season at UW-Stevens Point. That season saw the program win a Division III national title while ranking in the top 10 nationally in both team offense and defense.
A native of Milwaukee, Wis., Blount was a standout high school player at Dominican High School, where he earned all-state honors in 2004 and 2005 and was named the Wisconsin Sports Player of the Year in 2005. JR and his wife Ashley have two daughters, Maya and Zuri.
Ali Farokhmanesh | Assistant Coach
Ali Farokhmanesh (pronounced fuh-ROAK-muh-nesh) is in his second year as an assistant coach with the Colorado State men's basketball program in 2019-20. He spent the 2017-18 year on Medved's staff at Drake University, helping the Bulldogs to a 10-game turnaround from the previous year and most wins in Missouri Valley Conference action in 10 years.
Prior to his year on the Bulldogs' staff, Farokhmanesh spent the previous three seasons at the University of Nebraska, serving most recently as the Director of Player Relations and Development. At Nebraska, he managed and oversaw the off-the court responsibilities of the student-athletes including the implementation of mentoring programs and community outreach. On campus, he directed recruiting operations, including on-campus hosting duties.
Following his storied career at UNI, Farokhmanesh spent four seasons playing professionally overseas in the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland. In 2013-14, he was the Sixth Man of the Year in the Dutch Basketball League, averaging 10.4 points, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steal per game. His best season was with SAM Massagno Basket in the Swiss league in 2010-11, where he averaged 19.5 points, 3.1 assists and 2.3 steals per game while shooting 48 percent from 3-point range.
Farokhmanesh played two seasons at UNI where he helped the Panthers to a 53-16 record with two NCAA Tournament appearances, including the school's first-ever NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in 2009-10. As a senior, he earned honorable-mention All-MVC accolades, averaging 9.7 points and 1.5 rebounds per game, as UNI went 30-5, including an upset of top-seeded Kansas to reach the Sweet 16. In that game, Farokhmanesh had 16 points, including a 3-pointer with 34 seconds left to clinch the victory and was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He also provided the heroics in UNI's second-round win over UNLV, finishing with 17 points, including a 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds left for the final margin.
In his first season at UNI, Farokhmanesh started all 34 games and averaged 9.6 points and 1.6 assists per game en route to being named to the MVC All-Newcomer squad. He played two years of junior college basketball, earning first-team NJCAA Division II All-America honors at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, after starring at Iowa City West High School.
Farokhmanesh received his degree in finance from UNI in 2010 and earned his master's degree in educational administration from Nebraska in 2016. Ali and his wife Mallory have a son, Tai and daughter Mila.
Aaron Katsuma | Director of Men's Basketball Operations
Aaron Katsuma is in his second season as director of men's basketball operations for Colorado State University in 2019-20. Katsuma came to CSU after spending one year with Medved at Drake as the Bulldogs' director of operations.
Prior to his time at Drake, Katsuma spent seven years with the University of Minnesota men’s basketball program, most recently in the 2016-17 season as the assistant director of player personnel at the University of Minnesota. Katsuma also spent two seasons as a graduate assistant with the Gophers after a four-year tenure as a student-manager. During his seven seasons in Minneapolis, the Gophers made four postseason appearances including an NIT title in 2014 and NCAA Tournaments in 2013 and 2017.
Katsuma earned a master’s degree in applied kinesiology and a bachelor’s degree in sports management from the University of Minnesota.
Emma Montie | Director of Men's Basketball Administration
Emma Montie enters her second year as the director of basketball administration with the Colorado State men’s basketball program in 2019-20.
Montie spent the last four seasons working with the University of Minnesota men’s basketball program, including the last two as a graduate assistant manager. In that role, she coordinated player schedules, team practices, and other relevant scheduling needs while assisting with all team practices and events. She also handled road operations while team was travelling, working alongside operations staff, and organized scheduling, preparation, and hospitality for student recruit visits.
A 2016 graduate of Minnesota with both a bachelor’s and master’s in sports management, Montie also interned with the development and marketing departments during her undergraduate career.
C.J. Rivers | Graduate Assistant
C.J. Rivers is in his first year on the Colorado State men's basketball staff as a graduate assistant.
"I feel very fortunate to add CJ to our staff," Medved said. "CJ is the entire package. He was a terrific team player for us at Drake as well as a terrific student and high character young man. He will add a lot to our great staff."
Rivers played at Drake University from 2014-18 playing for the current CSU coaching staff in his final season. In Rivers' senior year under Medved and company, he helped lead Drake to a .500 overall record and 10 conference wins, the most for the program in 10 years, and a surprise third-place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference. Rivers started all 34 games his senior season. averaging 5.5 points and team highs of 5.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists per contest. He shot a team-best 53.6 percent from the field and tallied double digits on seven occasions, including scoring season-high 12 points each in home victories over Omaha and Northern Iowa.
"A big part of me coming was these guys coaching me my senior year at Drake, and I built a pretty good relationship with all of them," Rivers said. "Niko gave me the opportunity to be a part of it in a grad assistant role, and I thought the opportunity was one that I just couldn't pass up. So, I'm happy to be here."
For his collegiate career, he played in 111 games, starting in 72 of them and averaging 4.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. Rivers led the Bulldogs in rebounds, assists and steals each more than 20 times in his career. He was also a standout in the classroom, as he was named a Missouri Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete during his career. He graduated in 2018 with a degree in broadcast news. Prior to Drake, Rivers led Cahokia (Ill.) High School to the Class 3A Super Sectional his senior year, earning Illinois Class 3A honorable mention all-state, after pacing the squad to the state championships as a junior with a 33-4 record.
Joe De Ciman | Graduate Assistant