McCall coming from Florida staff to coach Mocs

McCall coming from Florida staff to coach Mocs

April 13th, 2015 by Gene Henley in Sports - College

Former University of Florida assistant Matt McCall is now the new head men's basketball coach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Former University of Florida assistant Matt McCall is...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Matt McCall said once that he saw himself as a head coach but "where that is, only the Lord knows."

His first destination will be at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

The 33-year-old Florida assistant coach was named the UTC men's basketball coach Sunday night.

Reports started to surface last Thursday that McCall had become the favorite to replace the recently departed Will Wade, who left UTC last Tuesday after a 40-25 record in two seasons to become the head coach at Virginia Commonwealth.

McCall's hiring was first reported Sunday afternoon by ESPN's Jeff Goodman, and UTC released the news just after 9 p.m. The new coach will be introduced officially at a news conference today at noon.

"My family and I could not be happier," McCall said in the UTC release. "I would like to thank (athletic director) David Blackburn and Dr. (Steve) Angle (the chancellor) for this opportunity. It takes a special place for me to leave the University of Florida, and that is exactly what we see in Chattanooga."

A source who knows McCall very well from the AAU circuit said the Mocs "got a steal."

"He's a great guy and a great recruiter who definitely knows the game," the source said. "He'll do some great things at UTC. He obviously won't get the same players Billy (Donovan) did (at Florida), but he's a great coach and a great X's and O's guy. He's a player coach and he'll do fine at UTC."

McCall has served two stints on Donovan's staffs at Florida. He was with the program from 2002 to 2008, moving from student manager to head manager while earning his degree at the Gainesville school. He earned a master's in secondary education in May 2006, then promptly became Donovan's director of basketball operations -- just in time for the second of the Gators' back-to-back national titles in 2007.

He served as an assistant coach under Mike Jarvis at Florida Atlantic University from 2008 to 2011, helping that program to a 21-11 mark and a National Invitation Tournament appearance his final season. It was at FAU that he earned his reputation as an energetic recruiter.

McCall returned to his alma mater in 2011. The Gators had a trio of Elite Eight appearances, Southeastern Conference championships in 2013 and 2014, a SEC tournament title in 2014 as well as a 30-game win streak and a trip to the Final Four, where they lost to eventual champion Connecticut.

"The Basketball Times" magazine has featured McCall as one of the nation's up-and-coming young coaches.

"Matt was Billy's right-hand man at Florida," the source said. "This is a great move for UTC."

Said Donovan in UTC's release: "Matt has done a tremendous job for the University of Florida, and he will deeply be missed. ... The Mocs are getting a great coach and an even better person. Matt will do a tremendous job."

McCall will take over a team that could return 78 percent of its scoring and 77 percent of its rebounding from this past season.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.


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