It’s Official: CWU’s Coleman Named Head Hoops Coach at UH Hilo
Five days after media reports from across the state tabbed Central Washington University’s GE Coleman as the soon-to-be head coach of the University of Hawai`i at Hilo’s men’s basketball program, the Vulcans made it official today, naming Coleman to the position effective July 1.
He replaces Jeff Law, who left the program after 15 seasons on March 18 to take a similar position at Western New Mexico University.
The 31-year-old Coleman will be taking on his first head-coaching responsibility in college basketball. He has served on the bench at CWU, where he graduated in 2005, and Eastern Washington, where he worked for two seasons after his graduation.
At EWU, he worked with Rodney Stuckey, a 2007 first-round draft pick by the Detroit Pistons. Stuckey recently completed his sixth season with the Pistons’ organization.
“I am very happy and excited to have such a quality coach and person as our new men’s basketball coach,”UHH athletic director Dexter Irvin said in a statement. “GE brings strong recruiting and successful coaching experience to our department.
“Having been part of very successful programs, GE understands what it takes to build a great men’s basketball program,” Irvin added. “I am confident he will work tirelessly to enhance the status of men’s basketball, athletics, and the entire intercollegiate athletics program at the University.”
According to the UHH relase, Coleman served as the lead recruiter for Central Washington. He brought in 17 eventual all-conference selections and three newcomers of the year to the Wildcats’ program.
Eight of the 12 players on last year’s CWU squad were transfers from Tacoma Community College. Two other players transferred to the Wildcats from other community colleges, and one other player transferred from EWU.
“I would like to thank Dexter Irvin and the search committee for giving me this incredible opportunity,” Coleman said in the release. “I am looking forward to joining the UH-Hilo family and the Hilo community. With my experience recruiting and coaching successful teams in the west region, I believe we can get the Vulcan basketball program to where we all envision it to be.
“We will play an exciting brand of full court pressure basketball and have a program that our institution and community can be proud of,” he said.
While Coleman officially starts on July 1, the work will begin immediately.
Irvin clarified Monday that only five players are locked in for the upcoming season. Four of them are returnees from last season, while the other is the only recruit signed while the program was under the watch of Zac Zepponi, Law’s assistant last season.
Irvin indicated that Coleman is working on bringing an assistant coach with him to join his staff. For Zepponi, whose contract expires at the end of June, it means that he will not be returning to the UHH program.
Coleman’s hiring ends a lengthy search that initially struck out with its first batch of finalists.
On May 21, the university announced that Guy Beach, Steven Kinder, and Mark Nelson were the top choices out of a list of 361 applicants. Nelson told Big Island Now that he turned down the job offer. One other candidate took his name out of consideration before an offer was made to him. The last finalist was never given an offer, a clarification Irvin made after people inside the department incorrectly indicated that all three had turned down the position.
Coleman was named as part of a second wave of finalists on June 10, joining Ferris State interim head coach Andy Bronkema and former Saint Martin’s head coach Keith Cooper.
Initial reports on Wednesday said that Coleman would get the job, but Irvin could not confirm the reports, saying that several hurdles, human resources and approval from the chancellor, still needed to be completed.
Coleman’s coaching debut comes on Nov. 8 when the Vulcans participate in the PacWest/Great Northwest Athletic Conference series. UH-Hilo will play either Western Oregon or Saint Martin’s University at 5 p.m. in Chaminade’s McCabe Gymnasium.
His home debut takes place on Nov. 20 when the Vulcans host Western State College. The tip-off time has not been determined.