Thanks to great sources who had HoopDirt.com out in front of this one yesterday (DII DIRT)…
University of Arkansas-Fort Smith Director of Athletics Curtis Janz has announced the hiring of Justin Bailey as the school’s new head men’s basketball coach.
Bailey, who has been an assistant coach at NCAA Division I Lamar the past two seasons, succeeds former UAFS coach Josh Newman, who earlier this month resigned after 12 seasons to become head men’s basketball coach at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.
A native of Fort Smith, Bailey is a former UAFS basketball player and former UAFS assistant men’s basketball coach and head men’s cross country coach.
“UAFS is home for Justin. Culture is very important to me, and Justin will build a positive, high energy, trusting culture. It is important to him to have a program that develops young men’s character, which will fit into our athletic culture,” Janz said. “Justin has had great experiences with coaches that I respect – Herb Sendek, Tic Price and Josh Newman. I believe Justin is one of the best young coaches around, and I think he will lead UAFS basketball for years to come.”
Bailey said he is excited about getting the opportunity to come home and coach the Lions.
“I’m very excited about getting this opportunity,” said Bailey, a Fort Smith Northside High School graduate. “UAFS is home for me, and if you cut me, I bleed Lions blue. It means so much to be able to come back and coach the Lions. This community and university is so supportive of this program.”
Bailey inherits a Lions program that is coming off its most successful season in its nine-year history as a NCAA Division II program.
This past season – UAFS’ seventh as an active NCAA Division II member – the Lions posted a 24-6 overall finish and a 12-4 finish in the conference. UAFS finished tied for first place in the conference, earning its seventh berth in the conference tournament.
The senior-laden Lions also made their fourth national tournament appearance in five seasons. The Lions also set a school record for single-season wins and being ranked in both national polls the entire season, peaking at No. 4 in the D2SIDA Top 25.
Bailey will have to replenish the Lions’ roster, which returns only two players from last year’s squad. He said the Lions will play a similar up-tempo offensive style like that of former Lions coach Josh Newman and Lamar coach Tic Price.
“I learned a lot from coach Newman and coach Price,” Bailey said. “Our style of play will be like what they do. We will be up-tempo offensively and get the ball up the floor in transition. Defensively, I expect we will play a lot of pressure defense.”
Bailey played basketball for two seasons (2005-07) at UAFS, which competed in NJCAA at that time. He played in only five games in his first season with the Lions, which was their NJCAA national championship season. He averaged 2.4 points per game before his season was cut short because of an injury that eventually led to a medical redshirt.
Bailey played in 29 games during his second season and was the Lions’ fourth-leading scorer with 7.8 points per game. He helped lead the Lions to a berth in the NJCAA Region II Tournament.
As an assistant at UAFS, Bailey helped coach the Lions to 23 wins in 2015-16 while advancing to the NCAA Championship tournament. At the time, it was the Lions’ second national tournament appearance in three seasons. UAFS also won back-to-back Heartland Conference Championships (2012-13 and 2013-14) while Bailey was on staff, and the Lions entered the 2014 NCAA National Tournament ranked 16th nationally.
During his time with the Lions, he helped recruit and produce seven All-Conference selections – including two first-team picks – two freshmen of the year, a defensive player of the year and an All-American.
After four seasons at UAFS, Bailey joined the Lamar coaching staff in June 2016. He was an assistant coach for two seasons at Lamar and last season also served as recruiting coordinator.
During his first season at Lamar, the Cardinals made their first postseason appearance since the 2012 NCAA Championship run. Bailey helped coach the Cardinals to an eight-game turnaround last season, finishing just short of a 20-win campaign.
This past season, the Cardinals finished 19-14 overall and 11-7 in the Southland Conference, qualified for the conference tournament and received a bid to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
Prior to joining Newman’s staff at UAFS, Bailey spent two seasons as a graduate assistant coach at Arizona State. He assisted with the day-to-day operations of the program which included overseeing the preseason and postseason individual player workouts. During that time, Bailey worked with five Sun Devils who went on to play professionally.
Bailey’s coaching career began at the club level where he served as an assistant coach for the Arkansas Sleepers for two seasons before being promoted to head coach in 2006. Bailey joined the college ranks in 2010 when he served as an intern at Texas-Permian Basin for head coach Dwaine Osborne.
Bailey was also a standout on the court during his collegiate career. After helping lead the Lions to the NJCAA title, he transferred to UT-Permian Basin where he garnered All-Heartland Conference honors.
Bailey received his bachelor’s from UTPB in May 2010. He graduated with a master’s degree in Higher and Postsecondary Education from Arizona State in May 2012. He has a daughter, Alyvia.