Memphis adds veteran coach Stansbury to Basketball Staff

Memphis Tiger head men’s basketball coach Penny Hardaway announced Friday the addition of longtime college basketball coach Rick Stansbury to his staff as an assistant coach.

Stansbury has coached or recruited 21 players that have been drafted or played in the NBA.

“I’ve known Coach Stansbury for years, so the opportunity to have him join our staff is a special moment,” said Hardaway. “I’ve always had a mutual respect for him, whether it was bouncing ideas off him or battling it out for a recruit.

“His history as a coach and the experience he brings to the table at this level is second to none. He will make a big impact on our student-athletes and within our program.”

Stansbury won 432 games as a head coach in seven seasons at Western Kentucky (2016-23) and 14 seasons at Mississippi State (1998-2012). His teams reached the postseason 13 times in those 21 seasons, and his career also includes assistant coaching stops at Austin Peay (1985-90), Mississippi State (1990-98) and Texas A&M (2014-15).

Stansbury was the 2004 Associated Press SEC Coach of the Year and National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District 17 Coach of the Year.

“I’m excited for this opportunity to work for Coach Hardaway and to be a part of his staff and the University of Memphis,” said Stansbury. “Coach Hardaway is one of the greatest players to ever play the game and an NBA legend. As a player whose goal is to get to the NBA, it is a special opportunity to play for and learn from one of the greatest players of all time.

“Following an NIT championship with back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances the last two years, Coach Hardaway is establishing himself as one of the best coaches in the country. With Coach Hardaway, the tradition, the city, and fan support, the University of Memphis has everything needed to compete for a national championship. I’m thankful and blessed to be part of the University of Memphis basketball program.”

No stranger to winning, Stansbury spent 22 seasons at Mississippi State, the last 14 as head coach compiling a 293-166 (.638) record while guiding the Bulldogs to the postseason 11 times, including six NCAA appearances. His 293 wins in Starkville are the most all-time among MSU floor generals and the 11th-most wins in the history of the SEC. 

Most recently, Stansbury led Western Kentucky to a 139-89 record (.610) across seven seasons on The Hill. His tenure included four 20-win seasons, three Conference USA championship game appearances, one C-USA East Division title and two trips to the NIT. The stint also featured an All-American product and NBA second round draft pick Charles Bassey.

In 2017-18, the Hilltoppers finished 27-11 – the program’s most in 10 years – and advanced to the semifinals of the NIT for the first time since 1954.

The Hilltoppers were one of only 17 teams in the country to win at least 19 games in five-consecutive seasons from 2017-22, averaging 21 victories in that span.

Stansbury guided WKU to 11 wins over Power Five programs, three of which came against ranked opponents. The other 13 C-USA teams combined for a total of seven.

A Battletown, Kentucky native and Campbellsville University Class of 2003 Hall of Famer, Stansbury took over the Hilltoppers following a two-year stop at Texas A&M (2014-16) where he helped lead the Aggies to a SEC regular season championship and an NCAA Sweet Sixteen run in 2016.

In his first season in College Station working under head coach Billy Kennedy, Stansbury spearheaded the signing of a consensus top-5 recruiting class that was ranked No. 2 nationally by many of the major recruiting services and widely regarded as the best class in program history.

In the 2015-16 campaign, with Stansbury serving as associate head coach, the Aggies set a school record for wins (28) after a 21-12 season and a third-place SEC finish in his first year. His second year they won the SEC regular season and made the Sweet 16, the deepest the Aggies have ever advanced in program history.

Over his 14-year tenure at the helm in Starkville, Mississippi State won more games than any other SEC program except Kentucky and Florida. Additionally, the Bulldogs averaged 21 wins per season and won 20-plus more games 10 times while claiming the 2004 SEC regular season championship, five SEC West Division titles and two SEC Tournament titles, while also making two other trips to the championship game.

In total, Stansbury won eight different SEC championships with only Kentucky winning more in that time span. He was also the only coach in the country to have lost three high school kids to the NBA that had signed and were eligible to play: Jonathan Bender (5th pk, Toronto Raptors; 1999), Travis Outlaw (23rd pk, Portland Trailblazers; 2003) and Monta Ellis (40th pk, Golden State Warriors; 2005).

He lost a fourth player to the NBA while at Western Kentucky when Mitchell Robinson was drafted 36th overall by the New York Knicks in 2018 after enrolling in summer classes on The Hill.

Highly regarded as one of the nation’s top recruiters, Stansbury reeled in five top-20 recruiting classes to Starkville during a nine-year period from 2003-11. MSU’s 2005 class was touted by as the 6th-best class nationally while ranked the group seventh. Additionally, his final signing class with the Bulldogs came in the spring of 2011 and was ranked 12th in the country by Rivals.

Postseason success was also commonplace under Stansbury’s guidance as the Bulldogs reached the finals of the SEC Tournament four times while claiming the league’s tournament title in 2002 and 2009. Under his watch, MSU claimed five NCAA Tournament victories and reached the NIT semifinals in 2007.

Mississippi State made five-consecutive postseason tournament appearances (2001-05) for the first time in school history, including a streak of four-straight NCAA Tournament berths from 2002-05. Prior to Stansbury taking over head coaching duties in 1998, the Bulldogs had totaled seven postseason tournament berths and eclipsed the 20-win mark just seven times in the school’s 86 previous years of basketball competition.

Stansbury’s 2001-02 Bulldog team established a new single-season standard with 27 victories, while claiming the school’s second SEC Tournament title.

Seven Bulldogs earned All-America honors during Stansbury’s 14-year stint as head coach with 23 All-SEC selections, including 11 first-team honorees. His teams also enjoyed success in the classroom as 42 student-athletes earned SEC Academic Honor Roll accolades.

In his last 11 years at MSU, every single ticket was sold out in the preseason.

Prior to taking the head coaching position in Starkville, Stansbury spent eight seasons an assistant under former Bulldog floor general Richard Williams. Highlighting his days as an MSU assistant, the Bulldogs exploded onto the national college basketball scene by advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 1995 and then making the school’s first appearance in the NCAA Final Four a year later in 1996.

Prior to joining the Mississippi State staff, Stansbury spent six seasons as an assistant at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. Working alongside his good friend, former APSU head coach Lake Kelly, Stansbury was directly involved with a full scope of coaching responsibilities, including serving as recruiting coordinator.

During his time at APSU, the Governors recorded three consecutive winning campaigns, beginning with an Ohio Valley Conference Tournament championship and a subsequent NCAA Tournament second-round berth during the 1986-87 season. In Stansbury’s six-year association with Austin Peay, the Govs landed a total of seven players, including two tourney MVPs, on the OVC All-Tournament team over a four-year span.

Stansbury’s 16-year career as an assistant basketball coach began at his alma mater during the 1981-82 campaign as he progressed toward earning a double major in business and physical education from Campbellsville (Ky.) College (now Campbellsville University).

Stansbury then served as a graduate assistant at Cumberland College in Williamsburg, Kentucky. While earning his master’s degree in business education, Stansbury helped direct the 1983-84 Indian club to a 31-5 mark and second-round appearance in the NAIA Tournament.

In 2003, Stansbury was honored by his alma mater as an inductee into the Campbellsville University Athletic Hall of Fame. In October 1999, Stansbury was honored by the Campbellsville Alumni Association as a proud recipient of the school’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Stansbury is married to the former Meo Mellen of Roanoke, Virginia.  They are the proud parents of three sons — Isaac (23), Noah (21), and Luke (18).

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