MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State head men’s basketball coach Frank Martin completed his coaching staff on Monday, as he announced the hiring of Matt Figger as an assistant coach.
“Matt is a young and energetic person who will be a great asset to our basketball program,” said Martin. “He brings an incredible wealth and knowledge of junior college basketball. He came up through the junior college ranks and has worked with some legendary coaches at that level. He has recruited at a very high level including the likes of Shawn Marion and several other great players. He has also been recruiting at South Alabama the past five seasons, building a program that has won the Sun Belt title each of the last two years. He gives us the ability to not only recruit the junior college ranks, but also recruit the state of Texas, which is something that is very important to the stability of our program.”
Figger comes to K-State after spending the past five years as an assistant coach at South Alabama under head coach John Pelphrey from 2003-07. He helped the Jaguars to some of their greatest successes the past two seasons, guiding the program to 44 wins, including 25 conference wins, consecutive Sun Belt Conference West Division titles, the 2006 league tournament and 2007 regular season crowns. The squad also reached the postseason in back-to-back seasons, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in eight years in 2006 before earning a bid to the MasterCard NIT in 2007. In addition, he helped coach five all-league selections in the last two years, including 2007 first team honoree Demetric Bennett, as well as Chey Christie, the most outstanding player of the 2006 Sun Belt Tournament.
Figger followed Pelphrey to his new position as head coach at Arkansas as the program’s director of basketball operations on April 12, before opting to return to the assistant coaching ranks at K-State.
Despite losing its top three scorers, Figger helped South Alabama tally a 20-12 overall record, including a 13-5 mark in league play, this past season en route to capturing the Sun Belt regular season and West Division crowns. After starting the season with a 7-7 record, the Jaguars put together a 13-game winning streak from Jan. 4 to Feb. 14, including 12 straight in league play, to earn their first regular season league crown since 1998. The squad lost in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, but did earn a bid to the MasterCard NIT, where they lost in the first round to Syracuse, 79-73. Junior guard Demetric Bennett was named to the all-conference first team, while junior forward Ernest Little and junior guard Daon Merritt were selected to the second and third team, respectively.
Figger helped South Alabama post one of its most successful seasons in 2005-06, as the squad collected a 24-7 overall record (the second-most wins in school history) en route to capturing the Sun Belt West Division and tournament championships and a NCAA Tournament berth for the time since 1998. The Jaguars lost in the first round of the tournament to eventual national champion Florida. The squad led the league in scoring margin (+8.1) and three-point field goal defense (30.0) and was second in steals (8.52) and scoring defense (65.6). USA averaged 8.6 3-pointers per game on 37 percent shooting.
After winning just 10 games a season before, the 24-win total in 2005-06 represented a 14-game improvement which was the biggest turnaround in the NCAA that season. USA improved in nearly every statistical category from the previous season, going from 62.3 to 73.6 points, from a 41.6 field goal percentage to 45.3, a 64.6 free-throw percentage to 70.3, 11.0 assists to 14.1, 7.6 steals to 8.5 and 207 made 3-pointers to 267.
Hired to Pelphrey’s original staff at South Alabama, Figger helped to slowly build the Jaguars into a power in the Sun Belt guiding the team to a 14-14 overall record in 2002-03, a 12-16 mark in 2003-04 and a 10-18 record in 2004-05 before the breakthrough year in 2005-06.
“I am extremely excited about being here at Kansas State,” said Figger. “It gives me the opportunity to work with someone that I have a great deal of trust and friendship with in Frank Martin. I have known him for a number of years in coaching circles. With the number of quality players we have, I feel like this is a program that is making a shift toward the top of the Big 12 Conference. I have been pleasantly surprised with how nice Manhattan is and how great the people have been to me. I have also been impressed with the other coaches and I just hope that I can find my niche and fill a role with those guys.”
Prior to his tenure at South Alabama, Figger spent 10 years as an assistant coach in the junior college ranks, including stints at Wabash (Ill.) College (1993-94), Vincennes (Ind.) University (1995-99) and Odessa (Texas) College (2000-02). During this stay, his teams won 20 or more games eight times, captured six region and four district titles and advanced to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) national tournament four times.
Figger came to South Alabama after a three-year stint as an assistant to head coach Orlando Ontiveroz at Odessa College in Odessa, Texas, from 1999-2002. After producing a 13-17 record in 1999-2000, the Wranglers went a combined 48-15 in 2001 and 2002 with each advancing to the NJCAA regional tournament. The 2001 squad posted a 27-7 record and advanced to the NJCAA national tournament. The team captured the Region V, District and West Junior College Athletic Conference titles.
Figger spent five seasons at Vincennes University in Vincennes, Ind., as an assistant coach to NJCAA Hall of Famer Dan Sparks from 1994 to 1999. He helped the Trailblazers to a 132-39 (.772) overall record and three trips to NJCAA national tournament (1995, 1997, 1998). In addition, the squad captured four Region XII titles (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998) and three District crowns (1995, 1997, 1998) during his tenure. He helped the school to its highest win total in nearly four years in 1998, as the Trailblazers produced a 31-5 overall record and finished fifth at the national tournament.
Figger began his coaching career at Wabash Valley College in Mount Carmel, Ill., where he helped lead the Warriors to a 29-3 overall record in 1993-94.
Among the players Figger coached during his junior college career were four-time NBA All-Star Shawn Marion of the Phoenix Suns and former NBA player Tyrone Nesby. He also coached five NJCAA All-Americans, including Tarone Barker (Cincinnati), Mitchell Dunn (Miami), DeShay Jones (Tennessee), Shawn Marion (UNLV) and Janavor Weatherspoon (Oklahoma State). In his nine-year career, he coached more than 35 players who signed NCAA Division I scholarships.
A native of Jenkins, Ky., Figger earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Eastern Kentucky in 1995. He played college baseball at Pikeville College in Pikeville, Ky., from 1990-91 before completing his education at EKU.
Figger joins associate head coach Dalonte Hill, fellow assistant coach Brad Underwood, director of basketball operations Andy Assaley and strength coach Scott Greenawalt on Martin’s coaching staff.
Kansas State – Named Matt Figger assistant men’s basketball coach.
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