I mentioned this one earlier in today’s DAILY DIRT. It’s now been made official…
Lander athletics director Brian Reese has named Omar Wattad, who helped lead Lincoln Memorial to five 30-win seasons and a berth in the 2016 national championship, the head coach of the Lander men’s basketball program.
Wattad comes to Greenwood after six successful seasons on Josh Schertz’s staff at Lincoln Memorial. In Wattad’s six seasons with the Lincoln Memorial program, the Railsplitters went 178-24 with five NCAA Tournament berths, including two trips to the Final Four and an appearance in the 2016 national title game. His teams won five South Atlantic Conference regular-season titles and three SAC Tournament championships, making three appearances in the NCAA Southeast Region championship game.
“We are thrilled to announce Omar Wattad as our next head men’s basketball coach,” said Reese. “Omar’s experiences as a coach and player made him an outstanding candidate and his commitment to the development of our student-athletes on and off the court was apparent. Omar has had remarkable success and his experience will benefit our program tremendously. We look forward to him having him join our Bearcat family.”
Wattad brings over a decade of experience in the collegiate basketball ranks as a player and coach, as well as two seasons of experience as a professional player.
“I’m truly honored to be the next head coach at Lander University,” said Wattad. “I’m forever grateful to Dr. Cosentino, athletics director Brian Reese, and the rest of the senior staff for believing in me. I’d also like to thank my mentor and good friend, Josh Schertz, for helping prepare me for this moment in my life as well as showing me what it means to be a head coach, boss, and leader of a program. A special thanks to my incredible wife; nothing I achieve feels significant without the love and support of her and our sweet baby boy.”
In 2019-20, Wattad helped lead LMU to a program-record 32 wins, a No. 2 national ranking, and the top seed in the NCAA Southeast Regional. The Railsplitters’ 32-game winning streak was the longest in all of college basketball.
Wattad joined the LMU program after playing professionally with the Energy Invest Rustavi Basketball Club in the Georgian Super League and the Hapoel Holon Basketball Club in the Israeli Winner League.
After playing two seasons at Georgetown, Wattad transferred to Tennessee-Chattanooga, where he compiled 820 points, 230 boards and 119 assists in two seasons with the Mocs as a two-time All-Southern Conference performer. Upon graduation, Wattad ranked fourth all-time at UTC for career three-point field goals, fifth in three-point field goal attempts and 30th in scoring in the program’s D-I era.
Wattad played at Science Hill High School, where he left as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 2,285 points. He was a two-time all-state selection as well as a two-time region MVP. On November 2, 2015, Wattad was inducted into the Science Hill High School Hall of Fame.
A native of Shreveport, La., Wattad earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology from UTC in and a master’s degree from LMU.
Lander won its fifth Peach Belt Conference Tournament title last season, tallying a school-record 14 PBC wins and earning the sixth NCAA Tournament appearance in program history.