COACHING STAFFCoaching Staff
Neal Hopkins - Head Coach/Programme Leader
Neal Hopkins established Myerscough College Basketball Academy in 2013, where he serves as Programme Leader and head coach. During his Myerscough tenure, Hopkins has received Coach of the Year honours five times (National League Division 3 North 2017-18; Elite Academy Basketball League 2014-15, 2015-16, 2017-18, 2019-20), coached three EABL Players of the Year, two No. 1 rated DENG Camp prospects and helped 15 players receive collegiate scholarships to North American-based institutions. He delivered three of the Academy’s first-ever senior titles during the 2017-18 season and has elevated the programme’s profile across Europe, winning the European Youth Basketball regular season in 2019-20.
Hopkins has a half decade of British Basketball League (BBL) experience as an assistant coach, as well head coaching experience in Basketball England’s National League 1 and with the North West Regional Performance Centre. He was an assistant coach for Great Britain at the 2019 U20 FIBA European Championships.
Education: High Performance Coaching, Sport (2008) and UKCC Level 4 Elite Coaching (2016) from University of Central Lancashire, MSc Elite Coaching (2019) from University of Central Lancashire, Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) L5 (2020)
Mike Bernard - Academy Coach
Michael Bernard is entering his fifth season at Myerscough and second as head coach of the women’s programme. Bernard, who was named WEABL Conference Coach of the Year, previously coached the Under-18 Men and Division 4 teams during his tenure at the Academy. He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by Myerscough College in 2015 for his services to British Basketball.
Prior to joining the Myerscough coaching staff, Bernard had a storied professional career that began in 2002 and spanned 12 different clubs across Europe. He played for Seth Greenberg (Long Beach State, USF, Virginia Tech) at the University of South Florida after spending two years at Coffeyville Community College. Bernard learned his trade as a junior with the Manchester Giants — where he returned in 2012 to finish his professional career — from 1994-98.
Experience: 12 years of professional European basketball (2002-2015); two-year member of the University of South Florida basketball team; two years at Coffeyville Community College
Troy Culley - Academy Coach
Troy Culley is in entering his fifth year at Myerscough College where he coaches the National League Division 3 Men’s team. Culley guided the Under-18 Men’s team to an unbeaten Premier North regular season title, an U18 National Championship and he claimed a third-straight AoC Sport Knockout Cup medal in 2018-19. His duties include being an assistant with the European Youth Basketball League, EABL and National League Division 2 teams. During the 2019 summer, he led the England U18 Men’s team to a third place finish at the Future Stars International Tournament.
Before coming to Myerscough, Culley was head coach with the Kent Crusaders U14 Boys, the South East Regional Performance Centre and South West Regional Development Teams (U13s, U15s and U17s). He was also an apprentice with the England Under-16 Men’s National Team. He was named Great Britain U16 Boys head coach in December 2019.
Education: Bachelor’s Degree of Sports and Exercise Science (2016) from University of Kent; PgDip in Elite Coaching Practice (2018) and Master of Science in Elite Coaching Practice (2019) from University of Central Lancashire, FIBA Europe Coaching Certificate (2019)
Stoyan Toshkov - Academy Coach
Stoyan Toshkov is a former Student-Athlete at Myerscough Basketball Academy, who won multiple National titles between 2015-2018 after moving to the United Kingdom from his native Bulgaria. Having recently studied at Worcester University, Stoyan returns to Myerscough as a skills development coach.
Stoyan, a Sport Coaching degree student at the University of Central Lancashire and is currently leading on Myerscough’s junior programme as the Under 14 Head Coach.
Dave Collister – Academy Coach / Programmer Leader
David Collister is entering his sixth year with Myerscough College and Myerscough Basketball Academy where he serves as a Lecturer in Sport and Academy Coach and works primarily with the AoC Sport Category 2 team on court and in the strength and conditioning suite. He is also the University of Manchester head coach, competing in BUCS Tier I.
Collister previously taught in the Greater Manchester area beginning in 2011 before accepting a position at Myerscough. He has been coaching since 2013, including at the Under-18 and National League level. He has experience playing National League Division 3.
Education: Bachelor of Science with Honours in Sports and Exercise from UCLAN (2010); Post Graduate Diploma in Education from the University of Bolton (2012); Level 2 Basketball Coach.
Joe Gurley – Academy Coach / Strength & Conditioning
Joe Gurley is entering his first season at Myerscough College, where he will serve as an Academy coach and strength and conditioning coach. Prior to Myerscough, Gurley served as the head strength and conditioning coach at D1 SPORTS TRAINING in Birmingham, Alabama in the United States, following a successful run as head strength coach for the UAB women’s basketball team and an assistant with the men’s programme. He was part two Conference USA (NCAA Division I) regular season championships – the men’s in 2016 and women’s 2018. Both teams set records for wins.
The 26-year-old has gained experience under a strong pedigree of strength coaches, including interning for his mentor Adam Petway at the University of Arknsas. Petway is now the head of athletic performance for the NBA’s Washington Wizards. While at UAB, Gurley worked for Cory Schlesinger, who works with the Phoenix Suns.
Education: Bachelor’s Degree of Sports and Exercise Science (2016) from the University of Alabama-Birmingham; Masters Degree in Strength and Conditioning (2019) from Edith Cowan University; Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach (NSCA)
James Jones – Academy Coach / Lecturer
James Jones has returned to the Myerscough Basketball programme after a six-year absence. Jones, who was part of the inaugural staff at the Academy back during the in 2013-14 season, had an accomplished British Basketball League career with the Guildford Heat, Mersey Tigers and Plymouth Raiders. He also had two stints with the reincarnated Manchester Giants where he was voted winner of the Pete Jacques Award as best British player in the league in 2014.
The 36-year-old completed his Masters degree at the University of Alberta, serving as an assistant coach on the Golden Bears Basketball coaching staff and as a professor in the Physical Education department where he taught basketball classes. Jones has been no stranger to the programme since departing in 2014, having returned to Preston as a guest coach at the Myerscough Basketball Summer Performance Camps.
During his second stint with the Giants, Jones worked as community sports officer in Manchester.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science (2007) from Whitworth University; Masters degree from the University of Alberta (2018)