When DePaul coach Tony Stubblefield was growing up in Iowa, he attended a basketball camp hosted by George Raveling and instantly was wowed by the then-Hawkeyes coach.
The experience was so inspirational to Stubblefield that when he became an assistant college basketball coach years later, he reached out to Raveling to ask for guidance. It changed his life.
“I wanted someone to mentor me, and thank God he was willing to do that,” said Stubblefield, 51, who earned his first head coaching job in April when DePaul hired him. “I could bounce things off him. He gave me a lot of advice. It’s important we have mentors. That was something Coach Rav afforded me. And I never made a decision without consulting him.”
Mentorship among Black head coaches has been a continuous undercurrent in college basketball, and many coaches said it was partly responsible for a wave of offseason hires in a sport in which Black coaches have been glaringly underrepresented.
Black coaches are encouraged by what appears to be a significant uptick in hires. And they’re cautiously buoyed not only by the numbers, but also by seemingly important changes in the range of candidates.
Young first-timers such as Loyola Chicago’s Drew Valentine — who was 29 on his hiring date to become the youngest active head coach in Division I men’s basketball — are getting a crack at attractive jobs. So are lifelong assistants who paid their dues such as Stubblefield, a 27-year assistant at Oregon, Cincinnati and other stops.
“We’ve worked so hard to show that we can do the job and that we can do the full job all the way around,” said Valentine, who noted his father’s influential role as a high school basketball coach. “There’s a stigma around the role a lot of Black coaches have on coaching staffs in college basketball. Getting the opportunity to be head coach, you have to be CEO, you have to do it all.
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SOURCE: Chicago Tribune, Shannon Ryan