After leading UC Davis to a 25-win season and a Big West regular-season championship this year, Jim Les has signed a contract extension that will keep him as UC Davis head men’s basketball coach through the 2020-21 season, it was announced on Friday by Teresa Gould, interim director of athletics.
Les recently completed the fourth year of a five-year contract he signed when he became the Aggies’ coach in 2011. His new contract will supersede the final year of his original one and take effect on July 1.
“I am thrilled that Coach Les will be leading our men’s basketball program here at UC Davis well into the future,” said Gould. “What his program has accomplished both on the court and in the classroom is a testament to his strong leadership and our student-athletes are fortunate to have him at the helm. The historical season we just completed demonstrates the excitement that athletics success can generate in our community and the national platform that intercollegiate athletics can provide an institution. I look forward to working with Coach Les and continuing to build this program to unprecedented heights.”
UC Davis enjoyed its finest season as an NCAA Div. I program in 2014-15, posting a 25-7 overall record and a 14-2 mark in the Big West Conference. The Aggies won their first regular-season championship in the league, earned the top seed to the Big West Tournament and later advanced to the National Invitation Tournament for the first time. The Aggies’ turnaround from a 9-22 record in 2013-14 was the best in Div. I this past season.
Les, a prolific three-point shooter during his NBA career between 1988-95, directed an offense this season that led the country in three-point shooting (.447) and had the nation’s leading shooter from three-point territory in Big West Player of the Year Corey Hawkins (.488). UC Davis was fourth nationally in shooting overall (.490).
Along the way, the Aggies built tremendous fan support that resulted in two national television appearances on ESPNU and two near-capacity crowds of more than 5,000 fans at The Pavilion. UC Davis went 14-0 on Hamilton Court and was the only California school to go unbeaten on its home floor.
“Coach Les has been a tremendous ambassador for our university,” said Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. “He’s increased the visibility of UC Davis across the country by showcasing both the excellence of our men’s basketball program and our outstanding university.”
Under Les’ leadership, the men’s basketball team has been actively involved in the Davis community and local region as well. The program was honored in May with the Silver Community Service Award from the UC Davis Community Resource Center in recognition of its community service. It was the second consecutive year the program has been recognized for its contributions.
The Aggies have been actively engaged with local schools with more than 20,000 students from 29 area schools participating in their basketball reading program. They’ve also been connected to the surrounding communities through school visits, assemblies and service projects.
UC Davis has also achieved in the classroom. The Aggies’ 91 percent graduation success rate, in data released by the NCAA in 2013, was the highest among any current school in the Big West and was tied for the highest in 2014. The Aggies also had the highest Academic Progress Rate (APR) in 2013, the most recent year data has been released by the NCAA.
“UC Davis has been a special place for me and my family and I am excited to call it home for the future,” Les said. “I am grateful for the support of Chancellor Katehi, Teresa Gould, our administration, and the Davis community. Our job now is to continue to work to build a standard of excellence in our basketball program that matches the excellence of our University.”