OFFICIAL: Portland names Shantay Legans men’s basketball head coach

The University of Portland has hired Shantay Legans as men’s basketball head coach, Vice President for Athletics Scott Leykam announced on Monday.

Legans, 39, comes to The Bluff after 12 years at Eastern Washington University where he helped lead the Eagles to five of its seven all-time postseason appearances. In his four years as head coach in Cheney, he compiled the best overall (.605) and conference (.726) winning percentages in school history. As head coach, he also guided the Eagles to an NCAA Tournament appearance, Big Sky Coach of the Year honor and two conference championships. Legans was also serves on the NCAA Rules Committee and’s Eracism Committee for promoting equality and inclusion in collegiate athletics.

“It is an honor to welcome Shantay to the University of Portland family,” Leykam said. “In the interview process, we shared the strong belief that the University of Portland very much has the potential to be successful in men’s basketball and we’re excited to realize that potential together. We were especially impressed with his ability to install a strong team culture, emphasize the importance of academic success and develop his student-athletes both on and off the floor. We’re extremely glad he is on board and look forward to working with him to provide the program with the resources needed to take the important next steps.”

“My family and I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity at the University of Portland,” Legans said. “Through the process, I had a chance to get to know Scott, Jason and Father Mark, as well as members of the Board of Regents, and get a feel for their vision for the future of the UP men’s basketball program. Not only did our philosophies and values align, but I could feel the university’s support and commitment to winning in every conversation. That made my family and I feel very comfortable, and it became very clear to us how special a place Portland is, both the university and the community as a whole. This place has massive potential, and I am so incredibly honored and humbled to have been chosen to lead the Pilots into the next chapter. We are going to win here, and I can’t wait to get to Portland and get to work!”

At Eastern Washington, Legans was a very impressive 75-49 (.605) overall and 53-20 in the Big Sky Conference (.726). Legans’ .726 conference winning percentage is the best in the Big Sky in the last 30 years and second best all-time among coaches with at least four years in the league. Including Big Sky Conference Tournament games (7-2), Legans is 60-22 versus Big Sky Conference competition for a .732 winning percentage.

The Eagles won 12 or more conference games and finished in third place or higher in each of his four seasons. His four-year total of 53 wins is the best all-time at EWU in 34 seasons in the league, as Eastern has won at least 10 league games for the eighth-straight season. That only happened six times before in EWU’s first 26 seasons as a member of NCAA Division I.

In his final season at Eastern Washington, Legans piloted the Eagles to their third NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. The Eagles reached the NCAAs after reeling off three convincing victories in the Big Sky Tournament by an average of almost 15 points per game. At the NCAA Tournament, the Eagles led third seeded Kansas by double digits in the second half before falling 93-84. The Eagles, who won 13 of their last 15 games, finished their magical season with a 16-8 record, including a 12-3 mark and second place finish in the Big Sky. Four of the Eagles eight losses came against Power 5 opposition, including one possession defeats at Arizona and Washington State. The Eagles dominated Big Sky postseason honors with Tanner Groves being named Player of the Year, Kim Aiken Jr. Defensive Player of the Year and Tyler Robertson Big Sky Reserve of the Year.

He is one of 25 finalists for the 2021 Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award which goes to a coach who not only achieves success on the court but who displays moral integrity off the floor. Legans is also among the 25 finalists for the Ben Jobe Award presented to the top NCAA Division I minority coach. Both awards will be announced by on April 1.

Legans was ranked 11th on ESPN’s “40 Under 40” list of the top 40 college basketball coaches under the age of 40 in 2020. In addition to the Eagles’ success on the floor, the men’s basketball program achieved a team GPA of 3.40 or above in each of his four seasons in Cheney.

“I am thrilled to welcome Shantay and his family to the UP community,” said University President Rev. Mark L. Poorman, C.S.C. “Coach Legans is committed to the success of student-athletes both on and off the court, making him a superb choice to lead our men’s basketball program. I look forward to all that he and his players will accomplish on The Bluff, and I extend my congratulations to Vice President for Athletics Scott Leykam and his team on this exciting hire.”

After being promoted to the head coaching role at Eastern Washington on March 29, 2017, Legans pulled off the impressive feat of winning 20 games in his first season as a Division I head coach. The Eagles went 20-15, including a 13-5 record in the Big Sky, defeated Stanford on the road, and qualified for the CBI.

In his second season, the Eagles rebounded from injuries and a tough early schedule (games at Syracuse, Oregon, Washington and Stanford) to win eight of its last 11 games and finish the season with 16 victories. The season culminated with a run all the way to the Big Sky Conference Tournament championship game.

Legans was named 2019-20 Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year after winning the regular season championship and putting the Eagles in position for an NCAA Tournament bid before the COVID-19 pandemic ended the season. The Eagles finished the season 23-8 overall and 16-4 in the Big Sky, marking the school’s highest ever Big Sky Conference win total and second highest overall win total. The team also finished sixth in the nation in scoring offense (80.9 per game) and fourth in assists (17.5).

Prior to his promotion to head coach, Legans spent eight years on the Eastern Washington bench – the first two seasons as an assistant under Kirk Earlywine and the next six as associate head coach to Jim Hayford, achieving a 66-37 record in the final three seasons. As the lead recruiter under Hayford, Legans helped led the Eagles to a 26-9 record, Big Sky Conference Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance in 2014-15. In 2015-16, the Eagles went 22-12 and advanced to the CBI Quarterfinals with a victory over Pepperdine. Eastern Washington made it three straight postseason appearances in 2016-17 with a 22-12 record and repeat trip to the CBI.

Raised in Goleta, Calif., Legans was a star prep player at Dos Pueblos High School and then a three-year starting point guard at the University of California from 1999-02. He led the Golden Bears to a pair of NCAA Tournaments and 61 wins before transferring to Fresno State for his final year of eligibility. He earned Western Athletic Conference Newcomer of the Year honors for the Bulldogs in 2004.

Legans had a professional playing career in the Netherlands and with the Santa Barbara Breakers of the International Basketball League before transitioning to start his coaching career. Legans served as a student assistant during the 2004-05 season at Fresno State and assistant coach at Laguna Blanca High School before joining Eastern Washington’s staff in 2009.

Legans is a 2004 graduate of Fresno State and is married to former Eastern Washington women’s basketball player, Tatjana Sparavalo. The couple have two children: daughter Zola Lee (4) and son Maksim (Mak) Lee, who will turn three on March 23.

For more on 2021-22 University of Portland men’s basketball season tickets, including information on early deposits, call the Pilot ticket office at (503) 943-8619, email [email protected], or click here.
To make a donation to the University of Portland 6th Man Fund to directly benefit Pilot men’s basketball, go to or contact Andrew Keippela at (503) 943-8329 or [email protected].


“I am really excited for Shantay and University of Portland has made a terrific hire. He took a good situation at Eastern Washington and elevated it even further. He knows the Pacific Northwest region as well as the West Coast Conference and there is no doubt that he will be successful. Additionally, Shantay will be a great fit in the athletic department and be an advocate for all teams and student-athletes on the University of Portland campus.”

– Bill Chaves, North Dakota Athletic Director & hired Legans as head coach at Eastern Washington

“I have known Shantay since he was a little kid and he has grown into one of the outstanding young coaches in all of basketball. He has a great knowledge of the game, is an outstanding teacher and relates well to today’s players. Shantay is a tremendous recruiter and was instrumental in building an outstanding program at Eastern Washington. Most importantly, he is just an outstanding person who will be a great mentor and leader for the Portland basketball program and the young men that will play for him.”

– Ben Howland, Mississippi State Head Coach

“Shantay’s presence in the Pacific Northwest right now is incredible. He turned Eastern Washington into a big-time winning program, and I know he will do the same at Portland. I’m thrilled to welcome Shantay to the Pilot Family. Let’s go!”

– Pooh Jeter, University of Portland’s No. 2 all-time scorer

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