Corpus Christi- (kiii sports)- Head Coach Willis Wilson of the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team has been presented with the 2014 Ben Jobe National Coach of the Year Award, CollegeInsider.com announced. The Jobe Award is presented annually to the top minority coach in Division I men's basketball.
"Being presented with this award is one of the greatest personal highlights of my career," Wilson said. "The list of finalists for the Jobe Award included a number of colleagues that I have tremendous respect for, and are among the best coaches in college basketball, so to be singled out among that group is such an honor. And to have my name associated with someone I respect as much as Ben Jobe is unbelievably rewarding."
Wilson led the Islanders to 18 wins and a second-place finish in the Southland this year. A&M-Corpus Christi finished with 12 more wins in 2013-14 than it did the previous season, the third biggest turnaround in the nation this year. Only Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Old Dominion (both plus-13) posted more improvement than the Islanders.
The Islanders had the biggest turnaround in the nation within their same conference in 2013-14, posting nine more victories in Southland play than the previous season. The Islanders were 5-13 in league play in 2012-13 before posting a 14-4 mark in the conference this year. Utah Valley posted 10 more victories in league play this season, but went from playing eight games (3-5) in the Great West in 2012-13 to 16 (13-3) in the Western Athletic Conference.
Wilson was one of 14 national coaches named as finalists for the award two weeks ago. The other finalists included Tommy Amaker (Harvard), Roman Banks (Southern), Johnny Dawkins (Stanford), Ron Hunter (Georgia State), James Jones (Yale), Mike Jones (Radford), Joe Jones (Boston University), Danny Manning (Tulsa), Cuonzo Martin (Tennessee), Rob Murphy (Eastern Michigan), LeVelle Moton (North Carolina Central), Kevin Ollie (Connecticut), Monte Ross (Delaware) and Gary Waters (Cleveland State).
Founded in 2010, the Ben Jobe Award is named after legendary coach Ben Jobe. Coach Jobe is an icon in the history of basketball at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He is best known as the head coach of Southern University, a position he held for 12 seasons. He also coached at Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Talladega, Tuskegee and South Carolina State.
Past recipients of the award include some of the most recognized coaching names in college basketball. Connecticut's Kevin Ollie earned the honor in 2013, while Sean Woods (Mississippi Valley State, 2012), Cuonzo Martin (Missouri State, 2011) and Ed Cooley (Fairfield, 2010) have also garnered the honor since its inception.
--Texas A&M-CC Sports Information