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Barnett new athletic director, basketball coach

by Chuck Cordill, assoc. Sports editor

HPU has always valued its basketball program as a University hallmark. So when the position of athletic director/head coach was vacant, the school chose a hallmark coach to fill it. J.D. Barnett, noted collegiate basketball coach and strategist, was appointed to a three-year contract that began Aug. 1. The position opened when Russell Dung retired in June. Dung will remain with the school as assistant athletics director.

“I feel great about the appointment” Barnett said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunities and challenges and getting back to something I really enjoy.”

Barnett amassed a 320-229 record in 22 years as a college coach with four schools, leading teams to the NCAA Tournament seven times and making two trips to the National Invitational Tournament. He retired from coaching in 1999 but remained in collegiate athletics as an administrator for two schools. Barnett doesn’t foresee a learning curve when it comes to coaching.

J.D. Barnett


“Once you’ve coached at this level, you always think and look at the game from a coach’s perspective,” Barnett said. “I’ve always watched the game from a critical standpoint. You can see subtle changes other coaches make, things that other people might not readily see. Assuming the role as coach shouldn’t be a problem.”

Barnett admits there will be a slight learning curve in his role as HPU’s athletic director, adjusting to the University and learning about the school’s various athletic programs. But after meeting with President Chatt G. Wright and Associate Vice President for Administration E. Rick Stepien, Barnett knew he wanted the job.

“I was impressed by the administration’s desire to continue expanding the University’s profile and marketability, both in the community and abroad,” Barnett said. "I look forward to being a part of that effort."

Barnett sees his duties as incoming AD as a combination of administrator, teacher, and motivator. He wants to have a positive impact on the lives of HPU’s student athletes and develop policies that effectively impact the school and its athletic teams.

Barnett stresses the academic aspect of the student athlete formula, stating, “They are students first. Academics are stressed above all.” His philosophy isn’t just empty rhetoric. During his five years as head basketball coach at Northwestern State University, his teams had a 92 percent graduation rate. In fact, for three consecutive years, the school’s Scholar Athlete of the Year came from his program.

“ We had some really good kids from those teams,” Barnett recalled. “One of them is now a physicist with NASA, the other two got into business. I’m very proud of them.”

Following his appointment, the school received calls from many of Barnett’s friends and former associates. Coach Larry Brown of the NBA Champion Detroit Pistons stated that the Sea Warriors were “getting a heck of a head coach.”

Memphis Grizzlies Head Coach Hubie Brown has known Barnett for over three decades and calls him “one of the most outstanding teachers of the game I have ever come across.”

Portland Trailblazers Head Coach Maurice Cheeks remembered Barnett as someone who was always available to the athletes, “I could always count on him to be there,” Cheeks said.

Barnett has been widely regarded in the basketball world as a superb teacher of the game and brilliant strategist. His teaching impact should be immediately apparent when the Sea Warriors begin play in late November.

“ We’re going to emphasize team defense, rebounding, and ball control,” said Barnett. “Turnovers are missed opportunities, and we’re going to work at minimizing them. We need to be able to control the flow of the game, work the ball up and down the court, and get our shots. We need to stress patience and play the game as a team, five guys playing as one unit.”


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