LeMoyne-Owen College is looking to bolster its basketball program with Bonzi Wells, who previously played in the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies. Get the full story from Mark Giannotto from Memphis Commercial Appeal below.
LeMoyne-Owen is in the process of finalizing an agreement to name former NBA player Bonzi Wells its next men’s basketball coach, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.
The source requested anonymity because the hire has not been announced. A formal announcement is expected in the coming days.
Wells, 44, played 12 years in the NBA, including two seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis native and LeMoyne-Owen alum William Anderson had served as the Magicians coach since 2009 but was recently elevated to athletics director.
Wells is expected to become just the fourth coach in program history. LeMoyne-Owen was famously coached by Jerry C. Johnson for 46 years and won a Division-III national championship in 1975.
The Magicians, who currently compete in the Division-II ranks, are still the only men’s college basketball team in the state of Tennessee to win a NCAA national title.
Wells recently coached in the Iverson Classic in Memphis alongside former NBA All-Star Rasheed Wallace, who has reportedly been hired as an assistant coachunder Penny Hardaway at Memphis.
The two former teammates with the Portland Trail Blazers host a podcast together called, “Let’s Get Technical” and their first episode featured an interview with Hardaway.
Wells, a Muncie, Indiana, native, starred at Ball State and then became the No. 11 pick in the 1998 NBA draft. He has also served as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Muncie Central High School, in recent years.
LeMoyne-Owen and the Tigers are scheduled to play in an exhibition game on Oct. 24 at FedExForum.
LeMoyne-Owen will soon join a growing trend among HBCUs, which have increasingly hired recognizable former pro athletes to help their athletics departments. The football programs at Jackson State and Tennessee State made significant splashes by luring Deion Sanders and Eddie George, respectively, to be their football coach.
Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee, also hired former Memphis star Andre Turner this offseason to be its men’s basketball coach.
LeMoyne-Owen men’s basketball did not compete during the 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Magicians had a 12-13 record and finished in fourth place in the west division of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in 2019-20.