Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) has announced the hiring of Chris Wright as the new men’s basketball head coach. Wright joins the Saints in their 10th season as a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC). He will start on May 14.
Vice President for Student Life/Athletic Director Jack Hank commented, “I am excited to welcome Chris to our Saints family. He brings a wealth of experience and he has a record of success at the collegiate level that I found very impressive. Our basketball program has accomplished quite a few significant milestones throughout its nine years, and I look forward to seeing him continue the atmosphere of excellence as the team enters its 10th season in 2018-2019.”
Wright comes to OLLU from Central Baptist College (CBC), a member of the NAIA and the American Midwest Conference, located in Conway, Ark. In his first season there, he led the Mustangs to a 21-9 record, and he guided the team to the program’s first NAIA Men’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 ranking, as well as the team’s first-ever NAIA National Championship Tournament appearance.
Prior to CBC, Wright was an assistant coach at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. The team was ranked as high as fifth in the country, and the Rams advanced to the championship game of the NCAA D2 Lonestar Conference Tournament.
Wright was the head coach at NAIA’s Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa, for the 2015-2016 season. While there, he was able to create an 11-game improvement of the school’s previous six-win season and guided the Yellowjackets to only their second winning season in the past 21 years. The team advanced to the Heart of America Conference semifinals and won six games against Top 25 opponents, including against MidAmerica Nazarene for the first time in 25 games.
In 2014-2015, he was an assistant coach at Arkansas Tech University in Russellvile, Ark. During his one season, Wright helped the Wonderboys to an 18-win season, a Great American Conference Tournament Championship and a trip to the NCAA Division II National Tournament.
Wright commented, “I want to thank Mr. Hank, Dr. Melby (Diane E. Melby, OLLU President) and Dr. Evans (Marcheta Evans, University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs), along with the entire search committee for giving me this incredible opportunity at OLLU. This is a program that has had great success, and I look forward to continuing to build off of what has been done here.
“Our Lady of the Lake is a special institution, and I believe it is one in which we can consistently compete for national championships while holistically developing the student-athletes, whom we are blessed to coach. I am extremely passionate about our players graduating and growing in all areas of their lives. Today is a very special day for me and my family; I could not be more thrilled to be the next coach here.”
Wright has also had a head coaching positon at Fresno Pacific University (FPU), where he posted an overall record of 67-52 and led the team to two 20-win seasons. In the Sunbirds first year of Division II competition, Wright led the team to a second-place finish in the 14-team Pacific West Conference. The Sunbirds led the conference in scoring at 89 points per game and were the only team to defeat every other team in the league at least once. The Sunbirds finished the season in dominant fashion winning 14 out of their 15 final regular-season games. Had Fresno Pacific been eligible for post season play, the Sunbirds would have qualified for the NCAA Tournament. FPU was led by former National Junior College Player of the Year, John Taylor, who led all of college basketball in scoring at 27.5 points per game. In his first year as head coach, the Sunbirds finished the season 20-11, despite only returning one player in the team’s rotation from the previous season. The team cracked the top 25 but narrowly missed the NAIA National Tournament.
Before becoming the head coach at Fresno Pacific, Wright spent four seasons as the top assistant and recruiting coordinator at FPU before being promoted to Associate Head Coach in 2009. While at FPU, he established himself as one of small-college basketball’s premier recruiters. His efforts in recruiting helped transform the program from a bottom-tier Golden State Athletic Conference team to a nationally prominent program. Wright coached 10 All-American selections and 15 All-Conference selections during his tenure at FPU. Eighteen players whom he coached at Fresno have played professionally overseas, including James Lewis, who was the program’s first-ever NBA D-League draftee.
In his last seven years at Fresno Pacific, Wright helped the Sunbirds compile 140 wins and was a part of five of the best eight seasons in the program’s history. The Sunbirds knocked off two Division I opponents, USC and the University of San Francisco, in that span.
The recruiting classes that Wright put together as the recruiting coordinator in 2008 and 2009 paid huge dividends as FPU won 51 games and made two trips to the NAIA National Tournament in those seasons.
In 2008-2009, the Sunbirds won a school-record 26 games while convincingly winning the Golden State Athletic Conference regular season title and appearing in the NAIA National Tournament for only the second time in the program’s history. FPU climbed as high as sixth in the national rankings before finishing ninth in the final poll.
In 2009-2010, the Sunbirds once again did not disappoint as they went 25-9, good enough for the second-best record in school history. FPU advanced to the round of 16 of the NAIA National Tournament after defeating ninth-seeded Campbellsville in the first round. The Sunbirds reached as high as third in the national rankings and defeated four top 10 teams, along with ten teams ranked in the top 25.
Before his time at Fresno, Wright served on staff during the 2005-2006 season at NCAA Division I Texas State University under Head Coach and former NBA player Dennis Nutt. He also worked from 2003-2005 as an assistant at Division II St. Edward’s University under Head Coach Ryan Marks.
During the 2002-2003 season, Wright served as an assistant at Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano, Texas. It was there that he helped produce a 10-game improvement from the previous season, while also helping the team reach the program’s first-ever playoff bid.
Wright is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Applied Learning and Development. He also holds a Master of Arts in Kinesiology from Fresno Pacific.