HOT: Former San Diego Head Coach Bill Grier Named Assistant Basketball Coach at Colorado

Bill Grier has been named an assistant coach for the University of Colorado men’s basketball team, head coach Tad Boyle announced on Friday.

Grier replaces Rodney Billups, who left Colorado after six seasons last month to become the head coach at Denver.

“It’s a great opportunity to work for, and with Tad,” Grier said. “I’ve watched what he’s done as a head coach, at Northern Colorado and now at Colorado. It’s very impressive what he’s done, and he does it the right way. Tad has really raised the level of the program and I look forward to the opportunity to help him continue to build it. And for me, to learn from him and his staff, a terrific staff, I’m excited to be part of the program to help it continue to grow.”

The addition of Grier gives Colorado an extra asset in West Coast recruiting. An Oregon native, Grier enters his 25th season as a collegiate head coach, with 23 years spent in Washington and Southern California.

“We’re fortunate to be able to add a guy like Bill Grier to our coaching staff because he brings a wealth of experience,” Boyle said. “Most importantly he has recruiting contacts on the west coast, and internationally. He’s one of those guys that I knew if I ever had an opening on our staff, he was a guy that I wanted to go after…we’re lucky to have him.”

Grier won 117 games in eight seasons as the head coach at San Diego (2007-15) and played an integral role in Gonzaga’s rise to prominence in 15 years as an assistant with the Bulldogs (1992-2007). Most recently, Grier spent the 2015-16 season as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State.

The span of his experience, from serving as an assistant on a top-level program, to being head coach, to spending a year in the Big 12 Conference, will enhance the abilities of the Colorado coaching staff.

“Anytime you have the opportunity to hire a former head coach it’s a plus,” Boyle said. “It’s not a requirement to be a good assistant, but I think when guys have been head coaches and then they become assistant coaches they’re better assistant coaches because they understand what the head coach is going through; they understand the issues, they understand the decisions that have to be made.”

The move to Colorado will give Grier and his family a sense of home being back in the west. He grew up in Oregon and met his wife, Nicole, in Spokane where they lived before moving to San Diego. Colorado is a place the Grier’s are thrilled about to raise their two daughters, Giselle and Ashley.

“My wife is from Montana, we met in Spokane,” Grier said. “We like that Colorado, Boulder, is that type of setting that we’ve become so accustomed to. I’m really excited for our children to be in that environment.”

Grier led the Toreros to the 2008 West Coast Conference Tournament championship, and rode that momentum into the NCAA Tournament with a first-round upset of No. 4 seed Connecticut – the only NCAA Tournament win in school history.

He led San Diego to six wins over top 25 teams, took down Kentucky in Rupp Arena and racked up eight All-West Coast Conference selections and nine WCC All-Academic Team nods during his tenure. In 2014, the Toreros advanced to the quarterfinals of the Tournament.

Grier finished his time in San Diego with a 117-144 record, including 51 WCC wins, which ranks 24th in the conference’s history.

During his time at Gonzaga as the program’s defensive coordinator, the Bulldogs led the WCC in field goal percentage defense six times, including the third best mark in the nation in 2004.

Grier served as the recruiting director for his last 10 years with the Zags, and his 2007 class was the program’s best to that point. That class ranked 11th in the nation by Rivals, and boasted four recruits among the top-100 in the country.

“He was extremely well prepared and you could tell that in his practice and game preparations,” said Dan Dickau, former WCC Player of the Year at Gonzaga and current Pac-12 Network analyst. “He’s a guy that knows how to relate to coaches and players; parents during the recruiting process…a great hire by Boyle.”

Grier also successfully developed both post players (1997-2003) and perimeter players (2003-2007). Post players Bakari Hendrix (1998) and Casey Calvary (2001) were both WCC Players of the Year. Perimeter players he worked with included Derek Raivio (2007), the WCC Player of the Year; Adam Morrison (2006), a First Team All-American and WCC Player of the Year; and Blake Stepp (2004), a Second Team All-American and two-time WCC Player of the Year.

“He is one heck of a basketball mind,” said Gonzaga head coach Mark Few, prior to Grier’s appointment to Oklahoma State. “Bill is hard working and loyal, and he played a huge part in building Gonzaga basketball to where it is now. I leaned on him heavily up here at Gonzaga, especially on the defensive side of the floor. When he went to San Diego he really evolved on the offensive side, and did some special things with those teams. Bill is an unbelievable student of the game who is always looking to learn and get better.”

Grier started his coaching career at his alma mater, Cottage Grove High School in 1986. After serving two years as a freshman coach, Grier was elevated to junior varsity coach and varsity assistant. Grier left Cottage Grove to be the head coach at Creswell High School during the 1990-91 season.

He played two years in junior college (Central Oregon and Southwestern Oregon), then transferred to Oregon where he received a B.S. degree in Leisure Studies and Services in 1990.

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