James Madison Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne on Thursday announced the hiring of Louis Rowe as the 10th men’s basketball head coach in program history. A former JMU student-athlete and assistant coach, Rowe most recently served as the top assistant coach at Bowling Green.
“As we worked through the search process and spoke with a distinguished pool of coaches, it became clear that Louis was the best fit to lead our student-athletes at James Madison,” Bourne said. “Louis has been connected to success at JMU both as a student-athlete and as a coach. Following a long, successful professional career overseas, he started as a college assistant at JMU and went on to further develop his coaching resume with progressive opportunities.”
“I’m honored to be named the next head men’s basketball coach at James Madison University,” Rowe said. “I would like to thank President Alger, Mr. Charlie King and Mr. Jeff Bourne for putting their faith in me to lead this program. I believe in discipline and hard work on and off the court. We’re going to recruit some young men that will make it a pleasure to come watch JMU men’s basketball.”
Rowe will be formally introduced at a press conference to be held on Tuesday, April 5 at 3 p.m. in the JMU Convocation Center. The event will be open to the public and will also be streamed live on MadiZONE HD SportsNet presented by the JMU Alumni Association.
“Louis has demonstrated an ability to develop talent, and his prowess as a recruiter is impressive in our key geographic areas and beyond,” Bourne said. “He is passionate about JMU and I’m confident that passion will spill over to our fan base as we restore the support for our program that existed when he played here. Louis perfectly fits the JMU culture, the academic focus of this institution and our emphasis on the student-athlete experience.”
After beginning his coaching career at JMU, Rowe returns to Harrisonburg following successful stints as an assistant coach at Rider, FIU and Bowling Green.
Rowe first served JMU as a graduate assistant and assistant coach from 2007-12 under head coaches Dean Keener and Matt Brady. He acted as an assistant coach for the 2007-08 campaign, which saw the Dukes win their most games in five years, before pursuing his master’s degree from JMU as a graduate assistant under Coach Brady from 2008-10.
After being elevated to assistant coach for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, Rowe helped lead the Dukes to 33 wins and worked closely with forward Denzel Bowles, who set a JMU single-season record with 290 rebounds and became the program’s first Mid-Major All-American before beginning his professional career in Lithuania and earning an opportunity in the NBA Summer League.
During the 2015-16 season, Rowe served in the lead assistant role for Bowling Green, working primarily with the Falcons’ perimeter players as the team advanced to the Mid-American Conference semifinals. He guided guards Zack Denny and Wes Alcegaire to double-digit scoring seasons, as the duo averaged 10.6 and 10.2 points per game, respectively.
In his two years at FIU, Rowe helped guide the Panthers to 31 wins from 2013-15 and worked closely with Adrian Diaz, who was named to the Conference USA All-Defensive Team in 2014-15 while setting a school record with 99 blocks, a mark that ranked sixth in the country.
Rowe also spent one year at Rider, where he helped guide the Broncos to a 19-15 record and a berth in the 2013 CollegeInsider.com Tournament. He kicked off his coaching career with stints at Osceola (Fla.) High School and Dixie Hollis High School in St. Petersburg, Fla., while he completed his JMU undergraduate degree in business administration.
While at JMU, Rowe also established himself as a standout player for the Dukes after transferring from the University of Florida and sitting out the 1992-93 season under NCAA transfer rules. Under legendary coach “Lefty” Driesell, he was a Second Team All-CAA selection in 1993-94 when he averaged 14.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game and was a First Team All-CAA choice in 1994-95 when he averaged 21.7 points and 5.7 rebounds.
JMU won the 1993-94 CAA Tournament before falling 64-62 to eventual Final Four participant Florida in the first round of NCAA play. The Dukes finished second in the 1994-95 CAA Tournament. Rowe’s 21.7 points per game as a senior still ranks as JMU’s fifth-highest single-season scoring mark.
Rowe finished his two JMU seasons with 1,055 points (17.9 per game), 315 rebounds (5.3 per game), 177 assists (3.0 per game), 48 steals (0.8 per game) and 80 blocked shots (1.4 per game). He ranks fifth on JMU’s career scoring average list and was a 52.2 percent career shooter from the field (409-of-783), a 73.5 percent career shooter from the foul line (191-of-260) and connected on 46 career 3-point field goals.
Following his two seasons at JMU, Rowe played abroad from 1995-2004, and his professional career included time in Sweden, Germany, Belgium, France, Israel and Greece. He was a member of championship teams in Sweden (1995-96) and Belgium (1999-2000).