Mercer hires Purdue assistant as men’s basketball coach

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Mercer

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Mercer University men’s basketball team has a new head coach.

The school announced Greg Gary as its 27th men’s basketball coach Tuesday.

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Gary, an assistant under coach Matt Painter at Purdue, has coached at that school for the last eight seasons and has helped lead the Boilermakers to three straight Sweet 16 appearances.

Third-seed Purdue faces two-seed Tennessee in the Sweet 16 Thursday, March 28.

A news conference to formally announce Gary as Mercer’s coach will be held after the Boilermakers’ season is over.



“When we set out to look for a new head coach, we recognized Greg early in the process as someone we were confident in leading our men’s basketball program,” Mercer athletic director Jim Cole said in a release. “Greg not only stood out for his proven background and style of play, but for the role he has played as a mentor to student-athletes throughout his career as well as his commitment to growing them into leaders off the court. We’re so happy for Greg, his wife, Claudia, and his children – Gabrielle, Logan, Alexandra, Brooklyn and Nash – to be joining our Mercer Family.”

Gary has made 13 postseason appearances as a college assistant and a player, including 10 NCAA Tournament appearances.

The Boilermakers’ offensive set caller has centered on the development of their wing and post players, according to Mercer’s release. His teams have helped lead the Big Ten Conference in scoring in two of the last three seasons. The Boilermakers led the Big Ten in three-pointers made (336) this season and also led the conference in three-point percentage and free throw percentage while ranking second nationally in assists per game during the 2016-17 season.

Gary spent the 2007-08 and 2010-11 seasons as an assistant at Duquesne before coming to Purdue. He was head coach at Centenary in between those seasons and resigned after the school announced in July 2009 it would seek reclassification as an NCAA Division III member.

He was also an assistant at South Florida from 2004-05 through 2006-07 and spent six of the first seven years of his coaching career as an assistant at Tulane, his alma mater.

Gary finished his three-year playing career as Tulane’s all-time leader in assists (370) and now ranks fifth. He’s second in school history in career assist-to-turnover ratio (1.97).

“This is such an incredible opportunity and I am both grateful and honored to have been selected as the head men’s basketball coach at Mercer University,” Gary said in Mercer’s release. “I’d like to thank President Underwood, Jim Cole and Sybil Blalock for their confidence in me to move this program forward and I appreciate their vision and look forward to seeing our young men succed in both the classroom and on the court.”

Gary replaces Bob Hoffman, who was fired this month after posting a 209-165 record in 11 seasons, including a 78-71 NCAA Tournament win over Duke in 2014.