Less than two weeks after he was named the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Tennessee at Martin, Ryan Ridder has unveiled an impressive coaching staff. Matt Sligh is joining the Skyhawks as the associate head coach while Denver Cobb and Tim Peete have signed on as assistant coaches.
“We’ve worked really hard, been patient and diligent in hiring the right staff here at UT Martin,” said Ridder, who spent the last four seasons as head coach at Bethune-Cookman University before being tabbed as UT Martin’s new head coach on March 30. “We have three very high-quality, high-character guys that are all about the student-athlete experience and want to make an impact in young people’s lives. They’ve paid their dues at various levels and they’re excited to be here at UT Martin.”
Sligh comes to the Skyhawks after three remarkable years as an assistant coach at Kent State University. Learning under Rob Senderoff – the all-time winningest coach in Golden Flash history, Sligh helped guide Kent State to 57 wins in his tenure. That includes a 15-8 record during the shortened 2020-21 campaign, which was good enough for a third-place finish in the Mid-American Conference. He was also a part of a 20-win campaign in 2019-20 and a 22-win season in 2018-19, as the Golden Flashes went on the road and defeated Power 5 opponents Vanderbilt and Oregon State on its way to a berth in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. All in all, he tutored four All-MAC performers at Kent State – including MAC leading scorer Jaylin Walker.
A Lakeland, Fla. native, Sligh spent three seasons as an assistant under Paul Lusk at Missouri State University from 2015-18. During that time, he recruited and coached current Brooklyn Nets forward Alize Johnson, a two-time All-Missouri Valley Conference honoree who was selected in the 2018 NBA Draft. Johnson was one of five All-MVC honorees that blossomed under Sligh’s tutelage as he was additionally responsible for recruiting and coaching 2015-16 MVC Newcomer of the Year Dequon Miller and ESPN 4-star Missouri High School Player of the Year Jared Ridder.
Sligh boasts head coaching experience as well as he ran the Motlow State Community College program for two highly successful seasons from 2013-15. Located in Tullahoma, Tenn., Motlow State went 37-20 under Sligh and finished ranked 17th nationally in the final NJCAA Division I poll following a 23-6 showing in 2014-15. That squad ranked in the top-eight nationally in scoring, three-point field goals made, assists, blocks, defensive rebounding and total rebounding. As head coach of the Bucks, Sligh recruited and coached former Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jaylen Barford, a Jackson, Tenn. native who topped the nation in scoring and was ranked the No. 1 junior college prospect in America before capturing All-Southeastern Conference first team accolades at the University of Arkansas. Barford, in addition to Miller – who joined Sligh later at Missouri State – were both named NJCAA All-Americans and were part of six All-Region VII honorees under Sligh at Motlow State.
Sligh began his coaching career as the lead assistant at William Jewell College, serving in that role from 2010-13 under head coach Larry Holley (whose 918 wins ranks him No. 9 overall amongst NCAA coaches at all levels). As recruiting coordinator, Sligh brought in and coached a two-time NAIA All-American, one conference Player of the Year, six all-conference selections and four Academic All-Americans. The school’s best season during Sligh’s time in Liberty, Mo. was in 2010-11 as the Cardinals went 25-8 and advanced to the NAIA Division I Tournament before transitioning to a NCAA Division II member.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Covenant College in 2005, Sligh obtained his Master’s degree in health and physical education from Northwest Missouri State in 2012.
“Matt is a proven recruiter who has learned under some of the best coaches in America,” Ridder said. “He is highly respected in this business and he has won big everywhere he’s been. We are extremely fortunate to have Matt on our staff.”
Cobb is no stranger to Ridder as the two were college teammates at Embry-Riddle and served on the same staff for three years at Bethune-Cookman.
While at Bethune-Cookman as an assistant and defensive coordinator from 2018-21, Cobb helped the Wildcats to 31 wins and back-to-back winning seasons in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference before the school opted out of the 2020-21 campaign. His squad in 2019-20 ranked third nationally in three-point field goal percentage defense while his 2018-19 team was No. 14 in the country in defensive points per possession. Cobb coached four separate All-MEAC performers at Bethune-Cookman, a list that includes two-time MEAC Defensive Player of the Year Cletrell Pope.
Cobb was the assistant director of player development and assistant defensive coordinator at Texas Tech University in 2017-18, working under head coach Chris Beard. The Red Raiders went 27-10 and made an appearance in the Elite 8 during Cobb’s stop in Lubbock, finishing with a No. 6 national ranking for the best season in program history. Texas Tech won a school-record nine games against top-25 ranked squads behind a stifling defense that KenPom ranked as the third-best in NCAA Division I basketball. Beard captured Big 12 Conference Co-Coach of the Year honors as the Red Raiders touted second team All-American Keenan Evans, first round NBA Draft pick Zhaire Smith and current Minnesota Timberwolves swingman Jarrett Culver (the sixth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft).
From 2015-17, Cobb served as an assistant coach and assistant to the athletic director at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Mont. He aided the Battlin’ Bears to 36 victories over two seasons as his squad ranked in the top-15 in the national NAIA ranks in free throw percentage, three-point field goal percentage, three-point field goals made and total rebounding. He coached three honorable mention All-Americans, two different Frontier Conference Defensive Players of the Year and eight all-conference selections at Rocky Mountain College.
Cobb additionally spent three seasons as an assistant at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan., serving the 2014-15 campaign as the associate head coach. The Swedes shattered numerous school records while dialing up 39 wins in Cobb’s last two seasons. He oversaw second team All-American Idris Ibn Idris (who signed a professional contract after he was the second-leading scorer in the nation at 27.4 points per outing) as part of seven all-conference performers, including a Newcomer of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.
Hailing from Daytona Beach, Fla., Cobb got his Division I start at the University of South Florida as a graduate assistant in 2011-12. The Bulls went 22-14 that season, finishing with their best Big East record in school history (12-6). USF equaled its most single-season victories in program history and not only reached its first NCAA Tournament since 1992 but won a pair of games against California and Temple. Cobb worked under Big East Coach of the Year Stan Heath as the Bulls set a conference record with 56.6 points allowed per contest.
Cobb’s first collegiate coaching job came at his alma mater, Embry-Riddle. As an assistant coach alongside Steve Ridder – Skyhawk head coach Ryan Ridder‘s father – Cobb helped pace the Eagles to a 29-5 overall record, winning the conference regular season and tournament championships. Embry-Riddle topped the country in field goal percentage defense (.375), aided by second team All-American David Butler (a two-time conference Defensive Player of the Year) and another first team all-conference recipient.
After a two-time all-conference playing career, Cobb graduated from Embry-Riddle with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace studies in 2009. He then earned his Master’s degree in physical education from South Florida in 2012.
“I’ve known Denver for most of my life,” Ridder said. “He is as trustworthy as they come and is one of the best defensive minds I’ve ever worked with. He is familiar with how I like to operate things and will be a huge asset for the Skyhawk program moving forward.”
Peete joins UT Martin after one season as an assistant coach at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Mo. Coaching under Will Martin, he helped the Griffons go 14-11 with a 13-9 mark in Mid-America Intercollegiate play – earning an at-large berth into the NCAA Division II Tournament for the first time in 11 years. Peete developed four All-MIAA standouts last season.
The 2019-20 season featured Peete in a director of player development role at UNC Greensboro under head coach Wes Miller. The Spartans went 23-9 that year, including an impressive 13-5 league record while leading the country in turnover margin (+6.4) and ranking in the top-six nationally in steals per game (9.3). UNC Greensboro boasted the Southern Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in Isaiah Miller as well as the SoCon Freshman of the Year Keyshaun Langley.
Peete was an assistant coach at Chipola College in 2018-19, joining Brendan Foley’s staff at one of the perennial powerhouse NJCAA programs in the nation. The Indians were responsible for a 27-5 record in Peete’s only season in Marianna, Fla., ranking in the top-25 of the national polls for a majority of the season. Chipola College generated six all-conference honorees and made it to the state semifinals.
The Memphis, Tenn. native spent two years of a first stint at UNC Greensboro from 2016-18, serving as a graduate assistant under Miller. Peete experienced 52 victories in that two-year span, a pair of SoCon regular season championships and the 2018 SoCon Tournament title. That led to the school’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in 17 years, a slim 68-64 setback at the hands of Gonzaga. That came after the program qualified for the National Invitation Tournament in 2016-17, winning a school record 25 games. He worked closely with five All-SoCon student-athletes, including 2017-18 Defensive Player of the Year James Dickey as Miller garnered SoCon Coach of the Year status in 2017-18.
Peete started his coaching career with a gig as an assistant boy’s basketball coach at Arlington High School in Tennessee in 2015-16. He also worked as a professional skills trainer in Memphis, working with notable clients such as Ian Clark, DJ Stephens and Mardracus Wade.
A four-year letterwinner at the University of Tulsa, Peete played 129 career games under head coaches Doug Wojcik and Danny Manning. During his senior campaign, he started all but one game as the Hurricane swept the Conference USA regular season and tournament championships and qualified for the NCAA Tournament. He was bestowed with the Conference USA Spirit of Service Award during the 2013-14 season, honoring him for significant community service endeavors, good academic standing and participation in their sport.
Peete graduated from Tulsa in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in business management. He later achieved his Master’s degree in applied arts and sciences in 2018 from UNC Greensboro.
“Tim is one of the top rising coaches in our industry,” Ridder said. “His enthusiasm and passion for the game is evident from the first time you meet him. He’s a guy our players are going to love playing for.”