Earl Grant named head coach at College of Charleston

Published: Sep. 2, 2014 at 10:32 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 3, 2014 at 10:50 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC - The College of Charleston has named Clemson assistant coach and Stall High School alum Earl Grant the new head coach of the men's basketball team according to an email sent to the school's staff by new President Glenn McConnell.

Grant previously spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach under Brad Brownell at Clemson, where he made a positive impact on the Tiger men's basketball program, both in recruiting, and with player development. He worked primarily with Clemson's point guards.

“I believe the College of Charleston has a boundless opportunity with Coach Earl Grant, and I am confident he will help launch a new beginning full of excellence, teamwork and success,” McConnell said. “Earl inherits a team that has bonded together during the past months and has shown character, fortitude and leadership. I am very proud of how this team has stood up to adversity.”

"We are thrilled to welcome Earl back home and to the College of Charleston," Athletic Director Joe Hull said. "He will bring great energy and excitement to our program. He has learned the game from terrific coaches and is ready to lead the Cougars. We need to hit the ground running and Earl is ready to do that."

"I am really happy for Earl and I like him very much," said former CofC coach Bobby Cremins. "He has worked under some great coaches. I know it's a dream come true for him to be back home in Charleston. I hope the players will give him everything they have. I wish him and the College of Charleston much success."

Legendary CofC coach John Kresse, who was part of the search committee formed by McConnell said, "I have known Earl Grant for 14 years dating back to when he worked our basketball camps at The College. I am delighted that we have chosen a rising star in the basketball world. Earl will bring a very positive, energetic and genuine style to our basketball program. Earl has been a very proven and polished assistant coach having worked for two of the best and most successful coaches in the profession in Gregg Marshall and Brad Brownell."

He recruited 2014 first-team All-ACC selection K.J. McDaniels to Clemson, where he ultimately ended up averaging 17 points per game as a junior and was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year, before declaring early for the NBA Draft. McDaniels was selected 32nd overall in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.

Grant's now former boss at Clemson, Brad Brownell released a statement on Tuesday night saying "I want to thank Earl Grant for all the hard work and dedication he's brought to our program these past four years. Earl is an outstanding coach with a unique gift for connecting with young people. His positive outlook on life, passion for the game of basketball and ability to connect with people will serve him well in his time in Charleston."

Several Tiger point guards have flourished under Grant's mentoring including incumbent starter Rod Hall. After recruiting the Augusta, Ga., native to Clemson, Grant has seen Hall develop into one of the leaders of the program. During the 2013-14 season, Hall was second on the team in scoring average and ranked among the ACC's top 10 in both assists per game and assist-to-turnover ratio.

In 2010-11, Grant worked with Demontez Stitt, who was named third-team All-ACC and was a member of the All-ACC Tournament Team. Demontez is the older cousin of CofC senior point guard Anthony Stitt. That same season, Grant helped Andre Young to an ACC-leading 2.55 assist-to-turnover ratio. Young went on to lead the conference in steals per game as a senior in 2011-12, earning All-ACC Defensive Team honors. He also led the Tigers in scoring under Grant's direction.

Clemson put together strong team results with Grant in the fold as well. In 2013-14, the Tigers went 23-13 overall and recorded a 10-win improvement from the previous season. Clemson advanced to the NIT semifinals and was 10-8 during the ACC regular season.

In Grant's first season in 2010-11, Clemson put together a 22-12 overall record and 9-7 league mark in the ACC. The Tigers earned the No. 4 seed at the ACC Tournament and advanced to the semifinals in Greensboro, N.C. Clemson also went to a fourth-consecutive NCAA Tournament and won its first-round game over UAB, 70-52, in Dayton, Ohio.

Clemson was strong defensively in four seasons with Grant part of its coaching staff. In 2010-11, the Tigers ranked No. 24 nationally in scoring defense. In 2011-12, Clemson yielded just 60.6 points per game to the opposition, the second-best figure among ACC schools. In 2012-13, the Tigers dropped their average even further to 60.1 points per game. That figure dropped to an ACC era-best at Clemson – 58.4 points per game – in 2013-14. The Tiger perimeter defense was No. 1 nationally defending the three-pointer (.286) last season.

Known as a top recruiter, Grant personally signed 10 of Clemson's 15 players recruited by Brownell's staff. He was Clemson's lead recruiter for players such as Austin Ajukwa, Jaron Blossomgame, Gabe DeVoe, Ibrahim Djambo, Sidy Djitte, Hall, K.J. McDaniels and Patrick Rooks.

Prior to Clemson, Grant spent six years as an assistant coach under former College of Charleston assistant coach Gregg Marshall, the last three for him at Wichita State from 2007-10.

With Grant on board, the Shockers made gradual improvement each season, culminating with a 25-10 overall record and 12-6 Missouri Valley Conference mark in 2009-10. The Shockers advanced to the championship game of the MVC Tournament and also earned a bid to the National Invitation Tournament. In 2008-09, Wichita State made its first postseason appearance in three years.

In three seasons at Winthrop University under Marshall from 2004-07, Grant helped the Eagles to three-consecutive Big South Conference Championships and three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances.

The 2006-07 campaign was a memorable one for Winthrop. With Grant's assistance, the Eagles claimed a 74-64 upset over No. 6-seeded Notre Dame in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. It was Winthrop's first NCAA Tournament win in seven tries. Grant helped the Eagles to a 29-5 overall record and unblemished 14-0 mark in Big South play. He had a positive effect on the play of guard, Torrell Martin, one of the Eagles' top players in the history of the program.

In 2005-06, Winthrop finished the season with a 23-8 overall record and came within two points of upsetting Tennessee in the NCAA Tournament. Grant's first season at Winthrop was 2004-05, when the Eagles went 27-6 overall.

Prior to joining Marshall's staff at Winthrop, Grant was an assistant coach at crosstown rival The Citadel from 2002-04.

A former student-athlete, Grant played two years at the NCAA Division II level at Georgia College in Milledgeville, Ga. He led the school to two appearances in the NCAA Tournament and to consecutive Peach Belt Conference Championships (1999 and 2000). In 2000, the Bobcats advanced all the way to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division II national tournament. He was named an All-Peach Belt First Team selection in 2000.

A native of North Charleston, S.C., Grant earned his bachelor's degree in psychology from Georgia College in 2000. He and his wife, Jacci, have three sons: Trey (7), Eyzaiah (6) and Elonzo (3).

The announcement ends a tumultuous summer for the College after the school completed an internal investigation into former head coach Doug Wojcik for verbally and physically abusing his players. The school fired Wojcik in early August.

After the position opened up, McConnell named a search committee that consisted of AD Joe Hull and head baseball coach Monte Lee among others. That group came up with a list of 6 coaches that included Grant, former CofC star Anthony Johnson, Wofford head coach Mike Young and NC State assistant Bobby Lutz.

Johnson and Young were initial finalists but both pulled out of contention last week. Johnson decided not to take the job after after the school learned of a prior arrest from 3 years ago in which he pled guilty for disorderly conduct.

Grant will be introduced at a press conference at 12:45 on Friday.

The following message was sent by College of Charleston President Glenn McConnell to the campus community:

A new era in Cougar basketball is about to begin.

I am pleased to announce that Earl Grant has accepted the position as the new men's basketball head coach at the College of Charleston. He comes to Charleston after spending five successful years as an assistant coach at Clemson University.

Earl stood out from our list of outstanding, highly qualified candidates. As we vetted the potential applicants, the pool boiled down to just a few excellent coaches, anyone of whom would do an outstanding job. But Earl has features that place him at the top of the list.

First and foremost Earl is a very impressive leader and a teacher. His positive attitude, strong work ethic and vivacious personality will have a lasting impact on our players, students, alumni and the entire college community. I am positive that his vast energy and desire for excellence will propel the College of Charleston basketball program to new heights.

He is well known for his many years as an exceptional recruiter, both in evaluating talent and developing relationships. His integrity will help us recruit elite student-athletes who will win championships and make us proud both on and off of the court. He can bring us instant success in the upcoming recruiting season and have an immediate positive impact that will pay dividends for years.

Best of all, this is a homecoming for Earl. Not only is he a North Charleston native who played basketball at Stall High School, but his wife, Jacci, is an alumnus of the College of Charleston. His basketball ties also link back to the Lowcountry. He spent six years working with Coach Gregg Marshall, who is one of the protégés of our legendary coach John Kresse.  Earl also spent two years as an assistant at The Citadel.

I believe the College of Charleston has a boundless opportunity with Coach Earl Grant, and I am confident he will help launch a new beginning full of excellence, teamwork and success. Earl inherits a team that has bonded together during the past months and has shown character, fortitude and leadership. I am very proud of how this team has stood up to adversity.

Lastly, I would like to thank the search committee for their hard work and dedication during this period. Their sacrifice helped the College to find the right person for this job.

I invite the entire College of Charleston community to join me in welcoming Earl, Jacci and their three sons to the College of Charleston family.

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