John Pigatti — Head Coach
Coach Pigatti is starting his 15th season as head coach of the Bulldogs and has accumulated a tremendous career coaching record of 410-79 (.838).
Pigatti’s record in the post season is 54-15. Two of his past four teams placed 3rd at the NJCAA National Championship Tournament. He has had three National-Players-of-the-Year in the last 7 seasons: Courtney Carter (2020), Jovan Mooring (2016), and Michael Harris (2013). Pigatti has also had 31 All Region IV Players, and 11 Region IV Players-of-the-Year. His Bulldogs are only team in the country that has qualified for the National Tournament 10 times in the last 14 seasons (they have also placed 8 times). The 2019-20 team qualified for the National Championship Tournament, but due to Covid-19 the tournament was canceled. 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 13 total All-Americans in 14 years). He has won ten 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 three occasions: 2011-2014 and 2016-2018. He has had seven teams finish with 30+ wins in his 14 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 219-14 (.94) home record during his fourteen seasons at South Suburban College, six of his teams have gone undefeated at home during the season.
More importantly, the sophomores Pigatti recruited sign a scholarship to play at a four-year college or university. 77 players in 14 years have gone on to 4-year institutions. He has had Eleven 1st Team All-Americans: Courtney Carter (’20), 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 Ten MVP’s of the Regional IV Tournament: Courtney Carter (’20), 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.
Awards, Honors, & Certifications:
Region IV Coach of the Year: 2020, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2009, 2008, and 2007.
District 3/4 Coach of the Year: 2020, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2009, 2008, and 2007.
Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year: 2020, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2009, 2008, and 2007.
College Insider’s Jack Bennet Man-of-the-Year: 2017
Member of the National Association Of Basketball Coaches
Antonne Samuels — Assistant Coach
Antonne Samuels enters his second season as an assistant coach for the Bulldogs. His first was interrupted by Covid-19. The Bulldogs were 29-4 and won the Midwest B Regional Championship and qualified for the NJCAA Division II National Championship Tournament. However, the tournament was canceled due to Covid-19. 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.
Thomas Trotter — Assistant Coach
Thomas Trotter is excited to join the ranks of the South Suburban College basketball program. He has a vast basketball background when you look closer at his resume. Thomas is presently employed with Chicago Public Schools as a high school administrator. He spent over 15 years coaching at the Division 1 basketball level. He was the assistant coach for Rees Johnson at Northeastern Illinois University from 1988 until 1998, helping Northeastern become one of the winningest Division l programs in the state. Trotter credits Coach Johnson for giving him his start at the Division l level. He recruited many outstanding players who went on to play professionally overseas.
Coach Trotter has a long history of coaching against many present coaches today. He has been part of coaching staff that have competed and won against some of the most successful coaches in the business, such as Bill Self, Porter Moser and Matt Painter, just to mention a few. He and Coach Pigatti have traveled very similar paths and their friendship stretches over twenty years.
Trotter also spent time coaching under the legendary coach Lou Henson at New Mexico State University. Trotter was able to fine tune his leadership skills under the tutelage of Coach Henson, while also handling the bulk of the recruiting and team scouting responsibilities, as well as some on the floor coaching.
After his success as an assistant at New Mexico State, Trotter went on to Division 1 where, in 2000, he was offered the head basketball coach position at University Maryland – Eastern Shore. In his first year at UMES, Trotter compiled a record of 12-17. The Fighting Hawks finished with the best conference record (10-8) in 20 years.
Thomas has stayed close to the game while simultaneously working as a high school administrator for the last 15 years. He is presently the assistant principal at Bowen High School of the Chicago Public Schools where he oversees the school operations including the athletic department. He acts as a consultant to the head basketball coach. Bowen has a successful program that recently won its first regional state championship.
In 2015, Trotter worked as the interim head basketball coach at Julian High School while the school conducted a search for a permanent head coach. During that stint, Thomas knew he would eventually navigate back into coaching. Prior to his time at Julian, he was promoted to one of his most challenging positions as the Executive Director of Sports Administration for the Chicago Public School District. Trotter spent time prior to that at Hyde Park Academy where he began as the assistant principal and quickly became the principal for six years.
Trotter resides in Chicago and has two sons Thomas Jr. and Isaiah.
Anthony M. Welch — Assistant Coach
Anthony Welch, born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was a high school basketball standout for Creston Senior High School. While playing there, he won several City League Conference Championships, was an All-City and All-State selectee and was an honorable mention McDonald’s All-American Candidate. During his career for the Fighting Illini, Anthony played in multiple NCAA Tournaments, was an All-Big Ten selectee, won a Big Ten Championship and was a team captain.
In 1986, Anthony was the 62nd player drafted to play in the NBA by the Dallas Mavericks. He pursued a professional career for three years, having tryouts with the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. Primarily playing in the Continental Basketball Association, the predecessor to the NBA G League and overseas, he played for a CBA Championship with the Rockford Lightning. Shortly thereafter, in 1989, he retired from playing and he moved full-time into the front office, accepting the position as Assistant General Manager of Community Relations for the CBA franchise Grand Rapids Hoops.
In 1990, Anthony enrolled into graduate school and took the position as Graduate Assistant Coach for the University of Illinois, Men’s Basketball Team. In 1992 he was offered the opportunity to work and play for a professional basketball team in Australia. In the positions of Marketing Associate of Corporate Accounts and a professional athlete, Anthony’s responsibilities allowed him to travel to all the major cities of the country and gain an understanding of professional basketball from a global perspective.
Upon returning to the States in 1993, Anthony started a coaching career working with Parkland Community College. While on staff that season, the Cobras made it to the NJCAA National Tournament ultimately finishing 8th in the country. For the next 25 years, Anthony has coached on all levels of amateur basketball. Primarily working in player development and as a recruiter, he has held positions with the Chicago Public Schools, Chicago State University and with the City Colleges of Chicago.
Currently, Anthony is the Founder and Executive Director for Serious Threat Athletic and Recruitment Development (STAR Development). STAR Development is a free service that promotes the continuance of higher education for prospective college student-athletes. Their primary focus is to support the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) athletic structure and assist budget restricted mainstream small school programs. Based in Chicago, STAR Development mentors’ athletes and parents, consults on college athletic recruitment plans, works as a liaison between college recruiters and student-athletes, and conducts events for the sole purpose of increasing prospective student-athlete’s chances of receiving financial assistance for higher education.
Welch resides in Chicago, Il and is married to Michelle Flowers-Welch.
Walter Woghiren — Assistant Coach
Walter Woghiren enter his first season with the Bulldogs. In 2019-2020 he served as a Graduate Assistant at Chicago State University, his duties were Video Coordinating, Player Development, Recruiting, Scouting, and Game Day Preparation.
Before Chicago State, Coach Woghiren was the Head Boys Basketball Coach and Co-Athletic Director at Harlan Community Academy, in Chicago, from 2016-2018, leading the Falcons to 3 regional title appearances.
From 2014-16 Woghiren coached at Ralph Ellison Charter School as the Head Boys Basketball Coach, in He led his 2014 team to the most wins in school history. (17)
Prior to becoming a Head Coach, he served as an assistant coach at Morgan Park High School in Chicago Illinois, from 2011-13 seasons helping Morgan Park, win an Illinois High School State Championship in 2013. The Mustangs also set a school record of most wins in school history during the 2013 season. (31)
In 2010, Coach Woghiren joined the MAC IRVIN FIRE AAU program as an assistant coach, where over his 9-year tenure he coached eight McDonald’s All Americans, and over 20 future professional basketball players. From 2008-2011, Woghiren served as an assistant Coach at Rich South High School in Richton Park, Illinois. While on staff, Rich South won the most games in school history during the 2010 season (25).
Coach Woghiren played his prep basketball at Rich South High School in Richton Park, Illinois. His collegiate basketball career started at the University of Dubuque where as a freshman he finished the season in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) Top 15 in Points Scored and 3-Pointers Made. After completing his freshman year at the University of Dubuque, Woghiren walked on to Chicago State University, and in the 2003-04 season, earned a scholarship. Woghiren graduated with a degree in Liberal Arts, with an emphasis in Marketing.
Walter resides in Olympia Fields. He and his wife Collette have daughter Kinlzey.