Leonard inks 4-yr extension at Queens

Queens University of Charlotte Head Men’s Basketball Coach Grant Leonard has signed a four-year contract, director of athletics Cherie Swarthout announced on Tuesday afternoon. The contract will keep Leonard at the helm of the Royals men’s basketball program through the 2026-27 season. Win incentives are included to increase contract length moving forward.

“Grant’s leadership continues to empower us to make significant strides forward,” Swarthout stated. “He has been able to build on a strong foundation that he helped lay and launch us into the Division I era with immediate success. I look forward to us continuing to evolve our program during this transition and becoming a top-tier ASUN program.”

Leonard was promoted to head men’s basketball coach in the spring of 2022 ahead of the Royals inaugural Division 1 journey after serving on the Royals’ coaching staff since 2013. During that span, Queens has reached the 15-win mark every season en route to compiling a 236-78 overall record. Additionally, the Royals have won a pair of conference tournament titles and reached the NCAA Tournament seven times, including four Sweet 16 appearances, 2 Elite Eights, and a National Semifinals appearance in Division 2.

Queens carried over their success from Division 2 into the Division 1 ranks this past season, posting an 18-15 overall record and going 7-11 in ASUN play. The Royals’ record was second-best amongst provisional schools as they led all reclassifying programs in scoring with 77.7 points per game.

Queens opened the season with an electric victory over Marshall in front of a rocking Curry Arena. The hot start translated to the Royals defeating non-conference opponents in Bowling Green and East Tennessee State in “buy games.” Queens would take their talents to the 2022 Jersey Mike’s Jamaica Classic where they took down Green Bay and Morgan State to claim the Rose Hall Division title.

After battling their way through league play, the Royals secured their first trip to the ASUN Championship as the No. 9 seed and dominated FGCU in the opening round to claim their first ASUN postseason victory. Queens battled the eventual ASUN Champions from Kennesaw State on the road in the quarterfinals and fell to the Owls by one.

During the year, the Royals were at the top of the rankings in multiple categories. Queens had the second-highest-scoring offense pouring in 77.7 points per game on a 44.4 percent mark from the field. The Royals physicality earned them the second most free throw attempts at 21.2 per game and they buried the most in the league. Despite being the new kids on the block, the Royals were physical on the glass and pulled down the second most rebounds per game at 37.3.

The Royals’ success came from a significant number of players who will be returning next season. AJ McKee was one of the most consistent performers for Queens reaching double figures in 31-of-33 games and being named ASUN Third Team All-Conference. The Charlotte native averaged 15.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game as he was top 10 in the ASUN in scoring. Prior to going down with a season-ending injury, Gavin Rains led the league in rebounds bringing down 10.2 boards per game. BJ McLaurinKalib Mathews, and Chris Ashby are also key returners for the Royals as the trio averaged 23.2 minutes, 8.3 points, and 2.9 rebounds per game.

“Being the head coach at Queens has been a dream come true,” said Coach Leonard. “It takes a village to build a program and every office and person at Queens has been so supportive of the players in our program. The mission at Queens is to provide a transformational experience to the students; that mission is something that our office and team take seriously and we are all aligned to accomplish here. I am very thankful for Cherie Swarthout and President Lugo’s support over the years and look forward to big things to come in the future.”


Tagged with: