Sports - Hooks

Apr 8, 2014 2:55 PM by TAMUK.COM

Four Finalist For Men's TAMUK Basketball Set to Visit Campus

KINGSVILLE, Texas -Texas A&M University-Kingsville's Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics and Campus Recreation Scott Gines has announced four finalists who will interview on campus for the men's basketball head coaching vacancy beginning Wednesday.

The four candidates include current Cardinal Stritch University head coach Drew Diener, former Javelina player and graduate assistant coach Johnny Estelle, who was an assistant at the University of Houston this past season, Benedict College associate athletic director and head coach Freddrell Watson, and current Texas A&M International University head coach Bryan Weakley.

Estelle, who will be in town Wednesday through Thursday is no stranger to South Texas. He played two seasons for the Javelinas setting a single-game record for 3-point baskets with nine in the 1996 Lone Star Conference Tournament en route to MVP honors and had a school-record 88 steals during the 1995-96 season. Following his playing career, Estelle spent one season as a graduate assistant coach with the Javelinas.

After his season on the sidelines with Kingsville, Estelle spent a season as an assistant coach with Northland Pioneer College in Arizona. He returned to Texas as an assistant coach at Navarro College in August of 2000. Estelle served as an assistant for eight seasons with the Bulldogs before taking over the controls as head coach - a position he held for five seasons.

As the head coach at Navarro, Estelle was named the NJCAA District XIV Coach of the Year three times. He finished with a 126-48 overall record as the head coach averaging 25-plus wins a season. Three of his teams advanced to the NJCAA National Tournament including a Final Four showing in 2010.

Weakley will be the second candidate in town visiting Thursday and Friday. He has spent the past two seasons as head coach at Texas A&M International after serving as the associate head coach of the Dustdevils for three seasons. In his two seasons as head coach, he has amassed a 37-21 record including a school-best 22-9 mark this past season. Weakley guided the team to its second-ever Heartland Conference Tournament title, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the second time.

Prior to joining the Dustdevils, Weakley was an assistant coach at the University of Alaska-Anchorage for five seasons. He helped lead the team to the NCAA Division II Tournament three times in five years including a Final Four appearance in 2008. Prior to coaching in Alaska, he spent one year in London where he was the was the developmental coach for London Towers and head coach at Middlesex University, leading the university to a 33-2 record and the BUSA National Championship.

Watson will be in town next Sunday and Monday to interview for the position. He has spent his entire professional coaching career at NCAA II Benedict College where he began as the head coach in 2002 and was a 3-time All-America selection as a player in the 1990s. He led the entire nation in rebounding in all NCAA divisions with 13.9 rebounds a game as a junior.

In his 12 seasons as head coach, he has posted a 247-90 mark and was the 2013 Box to Row Division II National Coach of the Year. His teams have won five Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular-season titles, four SIAC Tournament Championships and made eight NCAA II regional appearances. His Tigers have finished the season nationally ranked four times, and his 2008 team was ranked #1 in the nation among HBCUs. Additionally, Watson has assumed various administrative roles at Benedict. He was named the associate athletic director in July of 2013 after a year as the assistant athletic director.

Diener will be the final candidate to interview as he will be in town April 15-16. A graduate of St. Louis University, he has served as the head coach of NAIA powerhouse Cardinal Stritch in Milwaukee, Wisc. In five seasons he has amassed a record of 143-33, winning the NAIA Division II National Championship in 2013 while also being named NAIA National Coach of the Year. His teams have reached the national tournament each season, winning five regular-season league championships and posting five consecutive 20-plus win seasons. Diener's 2013-14 team advanced to the NAIA Sweet 16, spent 7 consecutive weeks ranked #1 nationally, and he is a 5-time recipient of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.

Diener, who played collegiately at St. Louis University, spent four seasons at the University of Virginia for coach Dave Leitao. He was an assistant coach in 2007-08 and 2008-09 after spending the prior two seasons as the director of basketball operations. The 2008 team reached the semifinals of the CBI, while the 2007 squad shared the ACC regular-season crown advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He also served as the assistant director of basketball operations for Leitao at DePaul and was the Dave Leitao Camp Director from 2005-08.

Texas A&M-Kingsville expects to have a head coach named by the end of the spring semester.

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