Zach Spiker, who led Army West Point to its most wins in more than 30 years, has been named the new men’s basketball coach at Drexel University. Drexel’s Director of Athletics Dr. Eric Zillmer made the announcement on Friday morning. Spiker will become the 26th head coach in Drexel history and the sixth since the school became a Division I member.
Spiker will be formally introduced to the Drexel community Tuesday at an event to be held at the John A. Daskalakis Athletic Center.
“Zach Spiker is an exceptional coach and a person of integrity,” Zillmer said. “Zach has unbelievable energy and will bring an excitement to the Drexel fan base. His personality and playing style fits the aspirations of our University as a creative, fast-paced, and innovative place of higher education.”
Spiker comes to the Dragons from Army West Point, where he spent the past seven seasons as the head coach of the Black Knights. He won 102 games during his time at West Point, tied with Naismith Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight for second all-time at the Academy. This season, Spiker led the Black Knights to a 19-14 record, tied for the best overall mark in the Patriot League. They earned Army’s first postseason appearance since another Hall of Famer, Mike Krzyzewski, led them to the National Invitation Tournament in 1978.
The winner of the 2013 Patriot League Coach of the Year award, Spiker was also named a finalist for the 2013 Skip Prosser Man of the Year and the Hugh Durham Award, presented annually to the nation’s top mid-major coach. Spiker was one of only seven coaches in the country to receive at least one vote for the Associated Press National Coach of the Year honor that season.
This year’s Black Knights squad was one of the best in recent memory at West Point. The team’s 19 wins were the most by Army since the 1977-78 season. Spiker’s team also set a school record with 11 road wins. Army led the Patriot League in three-pointers and rebounding, and was second in scoring offense, putting up 76.9 points per game. It had top-30 national rankings in rebounds per game (40.58), defensive rebounds (28.21) and three-pointers made per game (8.9), as its high-powered offense was one of the quickest in the nation with 75.4 possessions per contest. Its 294 three-pointers made this year set a program record, surpassing the previous high-water mark by 30. The Black Knights hosted quarterfinal and semifinal games in the Patriot League Tournament before falling to eventual champion Holy Cross.
The 2015-16 Black Knights featured some of the most successful players ever to come through the Academy, all recruited and mentored by Spiker. Kyle Wilson finished his career with 2,001 points, becoming the fourth Black Knight and sixth Patriot League player ever to reach the 2,000-point milestone. Wilson’s 100 three-pointers this year were second-most all-time in program history. Tanner Plomb finished as the 11th-leading scorer in program annals, netting 1,359 points. Kevin Ferguson, whose 205 career blocked shots are fifth in Patriot League history, concluded his career with 1,059 points. Dylan Cox netted 1,030 points in his career, making the Black Knights the first team in Patriot League history to feature four 1,000-point scorers on the same roster. Over the past four seasons, Spiker’s team had 11 All-Patriot League selections, the most in a four-year span in program history.
Spiker’s success at West Point did not happen overnight. He is the only coach in Army history to win 15 or more games in four consecutive seasons, a mark the program has not achieved — even under multiple coaches — since 1920-24. As a rookie head coach in 2009-10, Spiker’s squad won 14 games, the most for any first-year head man with the Academy since Knight’s 18-win campaign in 1965-66. The growth continued for the Army program under Spiker’s watch, and he joined Knight and Krzyzewski as the only coaches in the program’s history to win 65 or more games in their first five seasons.
The Black Knights have also exceled in the classroom during Spiker’s tenure. Nate Hedgecock, who graduated in 2011, was that year’s Patriot League Scholar Athlete of the Year and the first Army Academic All-America selection in 22 years.
Prior to his arrival in West Point, Spiker was one of the architects of the resurgent men’s basketball program at Cornell University. He served as an assistant under Steve Donahue with the Big Red from 2004-09 and was instrumental in helping Cornell’s recruiting efforts that culminated in three consecutive Ivy League titles from 2008-10. With those titles, Cornell became the first Ivy League institution other than Penn or Princeton to win consecutive league crowns.
Spiker joined the Cornell staff after spending the 2002-04 seasons at West Virginia University under Head Coach John Beilein. He helped the Mountaineers to an NIT bid in 2004. While in Morgantown, Spiker was responsible for managing on-campus recruiting visits, opponent scouting, postgame film breakdown and daily schedules. Spiker earned a master’s degree in sport management from West Virginia in 2004.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in communications from Ithaca College in 2000, Spiker’s first collegiate coaching opportunity came at Winthrop University, where he served as a graduate assistant under Gregg Marshall from 2000-02. Both years, the Eagles advanced to the NCAA Tournament after winning the Big South Tournament.
Photo Courtesy Drexel Athletics