John Pigatti — Head Coach
Pigatti’s record in the post season is 51-15. Two of his past four teams placed 3rd at the NJCAA National Championship Tournament. He has had two National-Players-of-the-Year in the last 7 seasons: Jovan Mooring (2016), and Michael Harris (2013). Pigatti has also had 29 All Region IV Players, and 10 Region IV Players-of-the-Year. His Bulldogs are only team in the country that has qualified for the National Tournament 9 times in the last 13 seasons (they have also placed 8 times). In 2011-12 Pigatti’s Bulldogs finished 3rd at the NJCAA National Championships as well.
Coach Pigatti has set numerous records as a head coach. He is the only coach in college basketball history (including NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA) that has had nine 1st Team All-Americans in his first eleven years as a head coach (he has had 11 total All-Americans in 13 years). He has won nine Region IV Championships. His teams have been ranked #1 in the country on numerous occasions. For the first time in school’s history, they appeared in three straight NJCAA Division II National Championships during 2007-2009. That feat was accomplished on two more occasions: 2011-2014 and 2016-2018. He has had seven teams finish with 30+ wins in his 13 years as a head coach (which also is the first time that was been done in school’s history). His teams have been ranked in the top ten every season since he has been at South Suburban College.
Coach also knows how to win on his home court, too. He has complied at 202-13 (.94) home record during his thirteen seasons at South Suburban College, six of his teams have gone undefeated at home during the season.
Pigatti has been named the Coach-of-the Year in Region IV, District 3/4, and by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association, nine times (2018, 2017, 2016, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2009, 2008, and 2007). He was also named the 2017 College Insider’s Jack Bennet Man-of-the-Year.
More importantly, the sophomores Pigatti recruited sign a scholarship to play at a four-year college or university. The ten 1st Team All-American are: Rhyss Lewis (‘19), Rasheide Bell (‘17), Jovan Mooring (’16), Lavell Boyd (’15), Antonio Levy (’14), Michael Harris (’13), James Harris (’11), Tremell Adams (’10) Nick Carey (’09), and Kris Harris (’07). He also has had nine MVP’s of the Regional IV Tournament: Jordan Matthews (‘18), Rasheide Bell (’17), Jovan Mooring (’16), Antonio Levy (’14), Michael Harris (‘13 & ‘12) Bradley Birton (’09), Larry Swann (’08), and Kris Harris (’07).
Coach Pigatti came to SSC from St. Francis University in Loretto, PA where he was the head assistant men’s basketball coach and recruiting coordinator. At St. Francis, Pigatti was an integral part of signing the number one recruiting class in the Northeast Conference. In addition, the 2004-05 season record was the schools’ best in 8 years. During the 2003-04 season, Pigatti helped Kent State to a 22-9 final record, a Mid-American Conference (MAC) Eastern Division championship and a berth in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT).
Prior to his one-year stint at Kent State, Pigatti served as an assistant coach at Elmhurst College-IL (1987-89), Creighton University (1989-91), Texas A&M University (1991-92), Western Michigan University (1992-94), Saint Joseph’s College-IN (1994-95), the University of Akron (1995-01), and Chicago State University (2002-03).
During Pigatti’s tenure as an assistant at Akron, the Zips captured the most MAC wins for any team in the league from 1997-01, including a MAC Eastern Division title in 1998. He helped recruit two Mr. Basketball award winners, and Jimmal Ball, who was voted one of the top 15 freshman players in the country by USA today and ESPN. At Creighton University, he helped lead the Blue Jays to back to back 20 win seasons. Creighton also won the MVC title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tourney. He also has been the head coach of the Five Star Basketball Camp, where he instructed several top 100 high school players in the country who now play in the NBA. He has instructed at many basketball camps and clinics around the country and abroad.
A 1985 graduate of the University of Dayton with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Pigatti earned a master’s degree of business administration from Creighton in 1993. He served as President of the National Assistant Basketball Coaches Committee for six years (1996-01).
Pigatti and his wife, Kimberly, have a daughter Ashley Jo, and a son, Andrew John.
Antonne Samuels — Assistant Coach
Antonne Samuels enters his first season as an assistant coach for the Bulldogs. Samuels comes to South Suburban after working on the Chicago State men’s basketball staff under Head Coach Tracy Dildy form 2016-18.
From 2012-2016 Samuels was the head basketball coach at Hyde Park Academy where he led his teams to an 87-40 record. At Hyde Park he won a regional championship, reached the Chicago Public League’s final four once, and reached the CPS’ elite eight twice. During his tenure at Hyde Park Academy Samuels coached a host of all conference, all city, all area and all state players. His best season was the 2014 campaign when Hyde Park finished 24-8. The Chicago native played his collegiate ball first at Moraine Valley Community College where he helped guide them to a Final Four appearance his freshman year. At Moraine Valley Samuels broke the career assist record and was named to the All -Conference team.
Samuels finished his collegiate ball at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Samuels graduated from college with an Associate Degree from Moraine Valley Community College and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Samuels played prep ball at Blue Island Eisenhower High School. At Eisenhower he played for legendary coach Bob Frasor. While at Eisenhower he received All-Conference honorable mention and helped lead them to a regional championship his senior season.
Samuels currently resides in Chicago and has a daughter, Aaliyah.
Cobri Gilbert — Assistant Coach
Cobri Gilbert enters his first season as an assistant for the Bulldogs after being an assistant coach at the Orr Academy in the Chicago Public League. At the Orr Academy he helped the 2018-’19 team win their third straight 2A State Championship.
Before the Orr Academy, Cobri was an assistant coach at Thornwood High School in South Holland, IL from 2016-‘18. He was also an assistant coach at Seton Academy, in South Holland, IL during the 2015-’16 season. Gilbert played College Basketball at Blackburn College from 2008-10. At Blackburn he led the country (NCAA Division III) in steals and assists. Gilbert has also coached on the Nike EYBL circuit with the Mac Irvin Fire.
After his playing days at Blackburn, Gilbert played professional basketball in Lithuania and Czech Republic from 2012-‘14. He has also utilized his unique skill set in his Basketball Training amongst grade schoolers, high school, college and professional basketball players.
Coach Gilbert is single and lives in Calumet City, IL
Howard Martin — Assistant Coach
Howard Martin is in his first season as an assistant coach for the Bulldogs. He is the founder and President of RAW Athletics Basketball (2016-Present). Martin coached RAW Athletics to the 17u Final Four in 2018. He was an assistant basketball coach at Longwood High School from 2017-18. At Longwood, he helped them qualify for their first ever appearance in the Chicago Public League Playoffs. Before that, he was an assistant basketball coach at Hyde Park HS from 2013-2016. At Hyde Park, he helped lead them to a Final Four, and an Elite 8 appearance in the Chicago Public League playoffs.
Martin currently resides in Dolton, IL.