With seven years of NCAA Division I basketball experience, Nick Booker has been hired as the associate head coach on the staff of new Eastern Washington University men’s basketball head coach Shantay Legans.
Booker spent the 2016-17 season at his alma mater, Davidson College, as director of basketball operations. The previous six seasons he was at UC Irvine in California, including the last five as an assistant coach.
As a player and coach, he has been a part of teams to advance to the NCAA Tournament twice, the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) once and the College Insider Tournament (CIT) on two occasions. He was also an assistant on Saddleback College teams which won the California Community College Athletic Association title one season and was runner-up the year prior.
“I am extremely excited to welcome Nick and his family to Cheney,” said Legans. “Nick is a great basketball mind, and is well-respected among basketball coaches around the country and internationally. His desire to help student-athletes succeed both on and off the court is an extremely important quality for our program.”
In his lone season on the staff at Davidson, the Wildcats finished 17-15 overall and 8-10 in the Atlantic 10 Conference. While on the bench for the Anteaters the previous six years, UC Irvine was 118-90 overall, 60-38 in Big West play and advanced to the postseason four times, including the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
“Nick understands what we look for in student-athletes, and his strong ties to recruiting circles throughout the country and internationally will help us enhance our recruiting efforts,” added Legans. “Coach Booker knows what it takes to be successful. He has won at every level, first, as a player at Davidson, but also at the junior college and NCAA Division I levels as a coach.”
Legans still has one assistant position left to fill on his staff, which also includes David Riley, who has been elevated to the second assistant coach position. Legans was selected as head coach on March 29, 2017, after Jim Hayford left to take the head coaching position at Seattle University, and was joined there by one of his Eagle assistants, Chris Victor.
“Being a Division I basketball coach is a privilege, and consequently there has been a lot of interest from coaches across the country to join the Eastern men’s basketball staff,” said Legans. “The single most important characteristic I am looking for in all of our staff members is integrity. Beyond that, I am looking for a tireless worker, someone that understands the game of basketball and a person who knows what it takes to be successful at any level of basketball.”
The 2016-17 season was Booker’s seventh year overall as a member of the UC Irvine basketball staff and his sixth as an assistant coach with the Anteater program. Booker was promoted to assistant coach prior to the 2011-12 season after serving his first season as the team’s director of operations, in which he assisted the basketball coaching staff with travel, purchasing, film exchange, community service and handled many of the day-to-day office duties.
Booker’s responsibilities as an assistant included skill development, academic monitoring, recruiting, on-court coaching (defensive emphasis), and summer camps. Booker was involved in the player-development process and has helped 10 players earn All-Big West Conference accolades in his tenure at UC Irvine.
Booker also played a vital role in the performance of Anteater players in the classroom by working directly with UC Irvine’s academic support center to ensure the players’ obligations are met. In his career at UC Irvine, Booker has helped sign, and maintain eligibility, of arguably the best recruiting classes in UC Irvine history.
In the 2015-16 season, the Anteaters registered a school-record 28 wins and also set new UCI marks for non-conference victories (15) and road wins (13). The team advanced to the championship game of the CollegeInsider.com (CIT) postseason tournament and the Anteaters had an RPI as high as 41 (best in school history) during the regular season and a final RPI of 68.
Booker was also involved in the school’s historic 2014-15 season when the Anteaters won the Big West Conference Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time. The Anteaters fell to three-time national champion Louisville by just two points in an NCAA Second-Round game at Seattle, Wash.
The 2013-14 team advanced to the NIT and the 2012-13 squad played in the CIT where is recorded the first national postseason win in school history. That started a four-year stretch in which the Anteaters were a collective 93-51 (21-16, 23-12, 21-13, 28-10), with a pair of Big West titles.
Booker’s efforts helped the Anteaters become one of the most feared defensive teams in the nation. In four of his seasons on the staff, UC Irvine ranked in the top 25 in field goal percentage defense, including third in 2014-15.
Prior to joining the Anteater staff, Booker served as an assistant coach at powerhouse community college, Saddleback College. Booker was instrumental in helping recruit and develop several All-State players, while the team captured the California Community College State Championship in 2009.
He graduated from Davidson College in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in history. He was a member of the Wildcats’ team under current Davidson College head coach Bob McKillop. Booker was a starter for the 2002 Southern Conference championship team that competed in the NCAA Tournament against Ohio State. As a senior, he led Davidson in blocked shots and steals.
Booker went on to receive his master’s degree in physical education from Azusa Pacific in 2010.
A native of San Diego, Calif., where he earned four varsity letters at The Bishop’s School, Booker is married to the former Jamila Ewell, who played collegiate soccer at the University of Wyoming. They have three children, Philip, Kaleb, and Ella.