With the 2022-23 season rapidly approaching, UC San Diego men’s basketball head coach Eric Olen has announced updates to the program’s staff. Tom Tankelewicz joins the Tritons staff as an assistant coach, Sam Stapleton has been promoted to director of recruiting, and Mikey Howell ’21 returns to La Jolla as the program’s director of basketball operations.
“I’m excited about this coaching staff and how each new member adds value to our program as individuals while complimenting the strengths of those around them.” Olen said. “Tom brings energy and enthusiasm to the building on a daily basis. He is a talented young coach and our players will benefit from his ability to teach, connect, develop and mentor. Sam puts our players first in everything he does and sets a great example for them with his passion and work ethic. He has made a positive impact in a short time here and that effect will be amplified in his new role as director of recruiting. I’m thrilled to bring Mikey back home. He was a great player and instrumental part of our recent success. Mikey has one of the brightest basketball minds I’ve been around and he will be a valuable resource for our team through his recent playing experience and institutional knowledge. I feel very fortunate to work with a coaching staff that makes everyone around them better.”
Tom Tankelewicz begins his first season at as assistant coach at UC San Diego after spending last season on the staff at Presbyterian in Clinton, S.C. Prior to working with the Blue Hose, Tankelewicz spent five seasons as a member of the coaching staff at UNCG. During his tenure with UNCG, Tankelewicz helped the Spartans achieve unprecedented levels of success as the Spartans won at least 20 games four-straight years for the first time in school history. The Spartans finished 23-9 (13-5) and reached the Southern Conference tournament quarterfinals during the 2019-20 season. The Spartans tallied one of their biggest wins of the past decade in a 65-61 victory at Georgetown and came within a buzzer beater of beating NC State, reaching as high as the top-50 of the national RPI. He is a 2014 graduate of Western Carolina.
Sam Stapleton begins his first season as UC San Diego’s director of recruiting, where he will manage all aspects of recruiting for Triton basketball. Last season, he served as UC San Diego’s director of basketball operations. Prior to UC San Diego, Stapleton spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Cal State Dominguez Hills from 2017 to 2021. Stapleton helped the Toros to four consecutive California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Tournament appearances and coached six all-conference selections as well as the program’s first CCAA Freshman of the Year.
Former UC San Diego standout point guard Mikey Howell ’21 returns to La Jolla as the Tritons’ director of basketball operations. In this role, he will be responsible for editing film, scouting, assisting with recruiting and player skill development, and coordinating team practices and day to day program operations. On the court, Howell holds the program’s all-time record for career assists. As a senior, he led The Big West in assists-per-game during the Tritons’ first Division I campaign.
The Tritons concluded their 2021-22 season with a record of 13-16 overall and 7-11 vs. Big West opponents. In its final home game, UC San Diego downed eventual Big West champion Cal State Fullerton, 81-76. The sharp-shooting Tritons led The Big West in three-point field goal percentage as well as made three-pointers last season.
2021-22 marked the second year of the NCAA-mandated four-year reclassification period toward full Division I membership. The Tritons concluded their Division II era in 2019-20 with a sparkling 30-1 record and the top seed in the NCAA Division II West Region before the postseason was canceled due to the onset of the pandemic.