Jesse Nakanishi has joined the Seattle University men’s basketball staff as the director of operations, Head Coach Jim Hayford announced Monday. Nakanishi joins the Redhawks’ staff from Hawaii Pacific University, where he served on the coaching staff from 2011-17.
“Jesse is a great addition to our staff after being an integral part of the successes at Hawaii Pacific in recent years,” said Hayford. “I have known Jesse for more than 15 years and have always been impressed by his dedication to the job and commitment to the players.”
At HPU, Nakanishi was promoted to associate head coach in 2013 and served in that role until accepting the Seattle U position. He was involved in all aspects of the HPU program including player development, recruiting nationally and internationally, scouting, scheduling, travel coordination, academic supervision, budget management, fundraising and marketing.
“I’m extremely excited and grateful for the opportunity Coach Hayford has provided me,” said Nakanishi. “Coach Hayford is a proven winner at the Division I level and I’ve admired watching his program from afar. This is an incredible chance for me to learn from not only him, but three other proven DI coaches. I hope to contribute from the invaluable experiences Coach Vorderbrugge provided me at HPU in turning this program around into a conference champion and national tournament participant.”
The Sharks qualified for the PacWest Conference Tournament all five seasons that Nakanishi was at HPU. He recruited and developed eight All-PacWest Conference selections, four of which were multi-year honorees.
In 2016-17, HPU finished with a 29-3 overall record and 20-2 PacWest mark, earning the second seed in the West Region of the NCAA Division II National Tournament. The Sharks were ranked as high as No. 3 in the NABC National Poll during the season.
Before joining HPU on the sidelines, Nakanishi built a high school juggernaut at his alma mater, Kamehameha-Kapalama. In eight seasons at the helm (1999-2011), his teams finished with an overall record of 174-65, participated in prestigious tournaments around the nation, and qualified for seven state tournaments. After a 17-year drought for Kamehameha, his team won the State Championship in 2009 and 2011 with a runner-up finish in 2010.
Born and raised in Hawaii, Nakanishi graduated from and competed for Kamehameha Secondary School. He was a four-year varsity letterwinner at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, earning his bachelor of arts degree in sociology/anthropology with a minor in East Asian Studies in 1999. Nakanishi earned his master’s degree in counseling & guidance at the University of Hawaii-Manoa in 2002.