In his first five seasons as head coach of the Boise State men’s basketball team, Leon Rice has taken the Broncos to the NCAA Tournament twice and has had four 20-win seasons. Last season, Rice led Boise State to its first Mountain West Championship since joining the league in 2011-12. For his efforts, he was named 2014-15 MW Coach of the Year by both his fellow coaches and by media that cover the league. He is just the fourth coach in program history to earn league coach of the year honors, and the Broncos’ conference title is just the sixth all-time. This will be the first appearance for Boise State in the Gildan Charleston Classic.
This will be the third appearance in the Gildan Charleston Classic for The College of Charleston. The Cougars are 3-3 in their previous two appearances. This will be the third season for Head Coach Earl Grant. In his second season with the Cougars, Grant turned the program into one of the most improved teams in NCAA Division I basketball. Grant developed four all-conference players including Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Year and All-CAA Third Team selection Jerrell Brantley – the first freshman to receive such honors since 2006.
Second year Head Coach Ben Howland will bring a young, talented team to the Gildan Charleston Classic this year. In his 19-year career as a head coach, Howland has led his teams to the NCAA Tournament 10 times and to the “Sweet 16” five times, in addition to the three Final Fours at UCLA. He has been a Conference Coach of the Year in three different leagues – 2006, Pac-10 Coach of the Year at UCLA; 2002, Big East Coach of the Year at Pittsburgh; 1997, Big Sky Coach of the Year at Northern Arizona. Mississippi State’s 2016 recruiting class was ranked fifth overall by ESPN. Four incoming players are ranked among the ESPN top 100 including Mario Kegler, Eli Wright, Schnider Herard and Abdul Ado. This will be the first appearance for Mississippi State in the Gildan Charleston Classic.
Johnny Dawkins was named UCF’s seventh head men’s basketball coach on Mar. 23, 2016. Dawkins arrives in Orlando, after an eight-year stint at Stanford, where he led the Cardinal to five postseason appearances, including an NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2014, and four 20-win seasons. Prior to his stint in Palo Alto, California, Dawkins coached for 10 years under the legendary Mike Krzyzewski at his alma mater Duke. This will be the first appearance in the Gildan Charleston Classic for the Knights.
UTEP looks to build on their strong 2015-16 campaign. The Miners made its second straight postseason appearance in 2015, earning a spot in the NIT field. They increased their conference win total for the third straight year, finishing in a tie for second place in Conference USA with a 13-5 record. The 13 conference victories tied for the third-most in school history. UTEP is led by first team All-Conference USA forward Vince Hunter, who enjoyed one of the best seasons by a sophomore in school history. He became the first Miner to lead the team in points, rebounds, steals and blocks in 23 years. Hunter was one of 15 players named to the watch list for the Julius Erving Award, presented to the top small forward in the country.
2016 NCAA national champions Villanova will make their first appearance in the Gildan Charleston Classic. This will be the first time the defending national champions from the previous season will play in the tournament. The Wildcats are led by Junior Josh Hart. Hart led the Wildcats in scoring as a junior in 2015-16 with a 15.5 ppg average. He scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a 95-51 NCAA Final Four victory over Oklahoma and averaged 6.8 rebounds per outing, the most among BIG EAST Conference perimeter players. Hart will join returning starters Kris Jenkins and guard Jalen Brunson as they look to continue their success from last year.
One of the most accomplished players in the history of college basketball, Danny Manning enters his second season at the helm of the Wake Forest basketball program. Sophomore Bryant Crawford, who was second on the team in scoring last season, will lead the Demon Deacons this season. This will be the first appearance for Wake Forest in the Gildan Charleston Classic. Fellow ACC school, Virginia, won the tournament last year.
Western Michigan returns to Charleston after playing in the inaugural tournament in 2008. Steve Hawkins, entering his 13th year as head coach, has led the Broncos to seven post-season appearances including NCAA Tournament berths in 2004 and 2014. They have rattled off 11 straight top-three MAC West finishes, the best mark in school history.
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