Longwood Names UMBC’s Griff Aldrich Head Men’s Basketball Coach

On and off the basketball court, the career of new Longwood men’s basketball coach Griff Aldrich has been marked by two constants: a passion for transforming lives, and success at every step.

Standout prep and college player. Partner in a top-tier international law firm, and CFO of an investment company. High-level AAU coach who helped develop players including NBA and NFL standouts, and community leader who founded an elite, faith-based basketball program for at-risk youth.

The most recent stop: leaving the business world to follow his passion for coaching, and helping orchestrate one of the biggest recent turnarounds in Division I basketball. When Aldrich joined the staff at University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) in 2016, the program had endured eight straight losing seasons and averaged 24 losses per season. During Aldrich’s two seasons on the bench with head coach Ryan Odom, the Retrievers enjoyed the best two-year stretch in program history, which included back-to-back 20-win seasons and this year’s America East Conference title.

And that was before last weekend, and the stunning 20-point win over No. 1 national seed Virginia in the NCAA Tournament that made UMBC a household name across the country.

Now Aldrich is returning home to Virginia, and a community he loves and knows well from his days as a player and assistant coach on a string of dominant teams under Tony Shaver at nearby Hampden-Sydney College.

On Thursday, Athletics Director Troy Austin announced Aldrich’s appointment as Longwood’s new men’s basketball head coach. Austin and President W. Taylor Reveley IV will formally introduce the Tidewater native in person at an on-campus event in the coming weeks.

“From the start of this process, Griff established himself as a unique candidate who will be an outstanding fit for our community, for our program and for Longwood’s citizen-leadership mission,” Austin said. “President Reveley and I knew entering this search that we needed a coach who placed an emphasis on building a culture of success through selective recruiting, player development and engagement with the community. Griff, with his strong ties to Farmville and the Commonwealth, meets all those criteria, and he has demonstrated his ability to run a program in a very unique, ‘Chief of Staff’-like role at UMBC.

“Honestly, we have been excited about Griff as a candidate from our earliest conversations with him at the beginning of this process. It just took a little while to get him to campus after UMBC won the America East and then made NCAA Tournament history. It was a pretty good reason for a short delay, and we’re glad we can now call him a Lancer.”

As UMBC’s Director of Recruiting and Program Development from 2016-18, Aldrich acted as chief of staff for Odom – his college teammate and son of legendary college coach Dave Odom – and was involved in all aspects of UMBC’s turnaround from NCAA cellar-dweller to America East Champion and NCAA Tournament giant-killer.

“I am extremely excited about joining the Longwood basketball program and broader Longwood community,” said Aldrich, a 1996 graduate of Hampden-Sydney College and a 1999 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law. “Returning to Farmville is personally significant as it is connected to a tremendous opportunity while allowing me to return to my home state and to a town where I spent my most formative years. My family and I could not be happier about this new chapter, and we are eager to become integrated into the community – both at Longwood and the greater Farmville area.

“I look forward to getting to work at Longwood and building off the foundation that has been established. Getting to know our existing group of quality young men, as well as building our culture will be two of our top priorities. In addition, we expect to hit the recruiting trail immediately to secure this year’s class and add outstanding young men to our existing program.”

At UMBC, Aldrich oversaw the recruiting and program development efforts during those two seasons, helping bring in a wealth of talent that included AEC Defensive Player of the Year K.J. Maura and AEC All-Rookie Team selections Daniel Aiken and Arkel Lamar. He was involved in all aspects of the program from recruiting and scouting, to quality control and campus and community engagement.
UMBC’s remarkable run of success in the 2018 postseason thrust the Retrievers into the national spotlight, earning it an estimated $120 million in equivalent advertising, a spate of national news articles spotlighting the university itself, and a 20-fold increase in Twitter followers.

“Longwood University hit it out of the park with the hiring of Griff Aldrich,” said UMBC head coach Ryan Odom, who is 46-24 in two seasons with Aldrich at his side. “Griff was a vital part of our historic run this season at UMBC. Longwood is getting a man of integrity, a tremendous mentor for its players, a sharp basketball mind who is driven and competitive, and a guy who wins in every aspect of life.”

Aldrich’s success at UMBC is the most recent chapter in a diverse career in which winning has consistently followed the 1996 magna cum laude Hampden-Sydney graduate and Phi Beta Kappa inductee.

As a player he helped lead the Tigers to a 79-31 record during his career, which included two NCAA Tournament appearances, and was team captain his senior year. After earning his Juris Doctorate from the University of Virginia School of Law, Aldrich rejoined his former college coach Tony Shaver on the Hampden-Sydney bench for the 1999-2000 season. That year, Aldrich helped Shaver lead the Tigers to their best season in school history with a perfect 24-0 record in the regular season, a No. 1 Division III national ranking, the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Championship and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.

After that championship season at Hampden-Sydney, Aldrich shifted his professional sights to the private sector where he began a successful 16-year career in law and business. He became a partner at Vinson & Elkins, a leading international law firm, working in Houston and London. Later, he established and built a private oil and gas company in Texas, and held the position of Managing Director & Chief Financial Officer in a national energy-focused private investment firm.

But even as his professional resume grew, Aldrich’s heart remained in coaching, and he never stepped out of the elite coaching ranks. While at Vinson & Elkins, he served as head coach at several elite-level AAU basketball programs for high school players. He went on to found the HIS Hoops program in Houston’s Third Ward, one of the most impoverished areas of the city, where his work with students focused on faith, academics and basketball. Several of his players there and at other AAU programs advanced to the college and professional ranks, including L.A. Clippers forward DeAndre Jordan, international professionals Jay Couisnard, P.J. Couisnard and Brandon Peters, and NFL linebacker Orie Lemon.

In 2016, Aldrich committed himself full time to his passion, moving to Baltimore with his wife Julie and their three children – Scott (6), Ford (6) and Laura Lee (3) – to join Odom in rebuilding the Retrievers’ program.

“I knew of Griff by reputation and mutual friends before this process, but over these past few weeks Troy and I have had the great pleasure of getting to know him, learning about the remarkable turnaround at UMBC, for which he was clearly a driving force, and seeing firsthand his passion for coaching and his powerful basketball mind,” Reveley said. “He stood out immediately for his vision for building success on and off the court, his presence and charisma to recruit top-tier staff and student athletes to our program, and his fit for our campus and community.”


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