Will Wade has never sat in the head coaching seat on any basketball bench.
So the new University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's coach hired somebody who's spent the past five seasons being a head coach.
Former Queens University of Charlotte coach Wes Long has agreed to be Wade's top assistant for the Mocs and already has found a house to rent on the North Shore.
"I'm trusting a guy that I've known for 13 years and watched his career arc, so the combination of a rising star going to a place where his star can continue to rise was too good for me not to go," Long said. "Professionally, Queens was like a really nice house in a good neighborhood at the end of a cul-de-sac. But Chattanooga is in a really nice neighborhood at the intersection of my career."
Long -- no relation to former UTC player and recent interim coach Casey Long, who was retained on Wade's staff -- spent four years as an assistant at Queens before taking over as head coach. He has a career record of 75-66 including a 55-30 mark the last three seasons with two Conference Carolinas championships on the Division II level.
"One advantage of having been a Division II coach is that I am the basketball ops guy, the manager, the floor-sweeper, the equipment guy and I had one full-time assistant," Long said. "There's not a whole lot of things I haven't done."
During Long's sophomore season as a walk-on at Clemson, Wade joined the program as a student manager. Long played one season and then became a student assistant for Clemson coach Oliver Purnell.
"We weren't best friends in college, but as we both went through the coaching profession we became closer," said Wade, who would routinely pop into Queens on recruiting visits to North Carolina. "He's done a good job of building a program and a sustainable culture. His philosophy fits with what I believe in.
"I'm geeked about getting him."
Long said it had to be a perfect situation for him to leave because Queens is on the rise and will be opening a $35 million arena in the fall.
"Queens was my baby," said Long, 32, who has a girlfriend and two Labrador retrievers. "It's a great combination of people and place. I think it's a place where you can win a bunch of games. I'm not going into the wilderness."
Long grew up in Mauldin, S.C., outside of Greenville and said he regularly attended Furman games at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium. He dreamed of attending Clemson, where he received his degree in business management, before completing a graduate degree at Queens.
"I thought it was important that I hired a coach with some head coaching experience," said Wade, adding that Long's duties will be to recruit and work with post players and half-court defense. "There's a certain perspective that he'll teach me that you don't know unless you're a head coach.
"He'll be really good for me in a sense that I'm high-strung and he's a little more mellow."
Contact David Uchiyama at email@example.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...