With recent hire Ronald Nored leaving to accept a position with the Boston Celtics, South Alabama head coach Matthew Graves had a vacancy to fill on his coaching staff. Wednesday it was announced by the school that Graves has found his man, hiring former Tennessee Tech assistant Russ Willemsen.
Willemsen spent eight seasons at Tennessee Tech, helping to coach 12 All-Ohio Valley Conference performers including Kevin Murphy. Murphy, the program’s first draft pick since 1993 (John Best), was a second-round selection of the Utah Jazz in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Among Willemsen’s responsibilities at Tennessee Tech were managing summer camps run by the program and overseeing the team’s academic progress.
“We are very excited to add Russ to the South Alabama basketball family,” Graves said in the release. “He is very diligent, organized and passionate about the game of basketball. Russ will really enhance our ability to recruit in the Southeast with his ties and experience to the area.”
The Jaguars enter the 2013-14 season with two important seniors in power forward Augustine Rubit (19.4 ppg, 10.5 rpg) and shooting guard Antoine Allen (9.1, 3.0). Given the fact that those two will be gone at the end of the season, finding suitable replacements on the recruiting trail is very important.
South Alabama, which finished last season with a 14-6 record in Sun Belt play (17-13 overall), has a few newcomers coming aboard as well with guard Hakim Santil being one of the prospects.
With two-time defending regular season champion Middle Tennessee now in Conference USA, the Jaguars will be one of the programs (along with two-time defending tournament champion Western Kentucky) looking to ascend to the top of the league.