Tag Archives: Jermaine Kimbrough

Jermaine Kimbrough Makes His Case to be Cleveland State Coach

Earlier in the week, I put together an initial list of potential candidates to replace Cleveland State men’s basketball coach Gary Waters, who retired after 11 seasons with the Vikings. My list included Jerrod Calhoun, Billy Donlon, John Groce (not Jim; an error I caught too late) and Patrick Tatham.

Since that point in time, new names have emerged, many of which either have local ties or some connection to athletic director Mike Thomas.

Among the names that have been put forward have been Geno Ford, the former Kent State head coach and current Stony Brook assistant, and current Ohio State assistant coach and former Cavs assistant Chris Jent. The Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto also included Ford’s current boss at Stony Brook, Jeff Boals, who is also a former OSU assistant.

While most of the names being tossed out are based on speculation at this point (with the exception of Jent, thanks to Sam Amico), one candidate has already made it known that he’s interested in the CSU job and that he’s got the credentials to turn things around.

And it’s a name that Pluto also mentioned and certainly one that Viking fans should be very familiar with: Jermaine Kimbrough.

Kimbrough, of course, was part of the core of Waters’ coaching staff, which also included Larry DeSimpelare and Jayson Gee (who left to take the head coaching job at Longwood in 2013). The trio of assistants stayed together during Waters’ first seven seasons, and that stability resulted in CSU’s resurrection from the depths of basketball obscurity.

In 2015, Kimbrough made the move away from Cleveland. He accepted the assistant coaching post at Nevada under Eric Musselman, and facilitated Musselman’s transition from the NBA, providing guidance to build a roster that has allowed the Wolf Pack to win 24 games en route to a CBI championship last season and return to prominence in the Mountain West Conference.

Currently, Kimbrough is an assistant coach at Wyoming, working with first-season head coach Allen Edwards, who came to the Cowboys after being part of two championship teams at Kentucky.

“I needed a different experience,” Kimbrough said of his recent jobs. “I wanted to have an NBA background attached to my recruitment. I learned that from Eric Musselman last year. I wanted to attach myself to Kentucky family.”

But it’s clear that after two seasons away CSU, Kimbrough is ready to make a return and, more to the point, excel at the top spot. And he is further emboldened by the success of Musselman and Edwards, who were also both first-year college coaches.

“I feel like the last two years have prepared me well for the opportunity to come back and be the head coach at Cleveland State,” Kimbrough said.

His previous standing with Cleveland State is what Kimbrough feels is one of his key selling points for the head coaching job. He spent 11 years at CSU, starting as a manager then director of basketball operations under Mike Garland and moving into an assistant role under Waters in 2006. Off the court, he worked at the university’s Office of Minority Affairs as well.

As for recruiting, Kimbrough is bullish on winning with local talent, while, at the same time, keeping an eye out nationally. He was a part of the recruitment of, among others, local products Anton Grady and Trey Lewis, as well as, prior to his departure, current players Rob Edwards and Jibri Blount.

In fact, one of the first orders of business, should he get the job, is to delve into recruiting, both in bolstering his relationship with local high schools and AAU teams, as well as looking at players like Lewis who are transferring from high major schools.

“This is my brand: This is the city’s team,” Kimbrough said. “I want people to take pride in Cleveland State’s program. We’re going to win with local kids. That is my vision.”

Kimbrough has also set a loftier goal for CSU: to get the program to where Butler was during its NCAA Tournament runs. And while some may consider that mission impossible, Kimbrough, who has CSU embedded in his DNA, thinks that as a diamond in the rough, the Vikings, through hard work, can make it to that pinnacle.

Email Bob at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @bobmcdonald.

Image courtesy of Jermaine Kimbrough

Cleveland State Men's Golf Won Another Crown (In Case You’re Interested)

Out in the warm confines of Mission Inn Resort and Club in central Florida, the Cleveland State men’s golf team has succeeded in snaring yet another Horizon League title, firing a 54-hole total of 906, which was 10 strokes better that the Vikings’s closest competitor, Oakland. The women also had themselves a rally of sorts, coming back from sixth place in the stands on the second day to finish a respectable third.

For those of you who may have followed the Vikings (As we did last July), much of this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. After all, Cleveland State was led by senior Michael Balcar, who spent last summer playing at the 114th U.S. Amateur at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

Balcar followed this up with a final-round 74, including two birdies in the final nine holes, to force a first-place playoff with Golden Grizzlies golfer Evan Bowser. Bowser won the playoff and took medalist honors, while Balcar finished second.

Joining Balcar on top of the leaderboard for the Cleveland State men’s golf team was junior Mitchell Moore, who started his tournament off with an even-par 72 on the first day, then held on to finish fourth overall.

On the women’s side, Horizon League first-teamer Allyson Hackman finished with a 54-hole score of 234, good enough to finish tied for sixth place and join Balcar and Mitchell as part of the all-tournament team.

The men’s golf win marks the fifth conference title for former CSU golfer and head coach Steve Weir, adding this year’s trophy to the ones won in 2008, 2009, 2011 and last year.

Having automatically qualified for the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship with the win, the CSU men now will wait to find out where they will play. That will be announced on The Golf Channel on Monday at 10:00am

It should be noted that we mentioned last summer that it would be unwise to count the Vikings out of winning back-to-back Horizon League championships. Good thing we were on the spot with that one. Also, with only Balcar graduating this year, you may want to watch for CSU try and take a third straight title next year.

Cleveland State No Longer Alone in Horizon League Expansion Discussion

For a few months there, it looked like CSU athletic director John Parry and men’s basketball coach Gary Waters were the only ones out there talking about the prospects of inviting more schools to the Horizon League. Parry even went as far as to name possible suitors, including conference associate member Belmont, Murray State, Northern Kentucky and Lipscomb.

It turns out that Parry and Waters are no longer alone in talking about expansion, as Wright State athletic director Bob Grant told a public meeting that a 10th Horizon League member was on its way and that an announcement would be made at the end of May, as reported by The Guardian student newspaper.

Naturally, the league offices have been pretty mum about the situation. But given that commissioner Jon LeCrone himself stated that the conference was active in the expansion discussion, it’s only a matter of time before we find out who will be coming in as the 10th school in the Horizon League.

Cleveland State Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach Opening (Probably)

It has been well-publicized (at least outside of Northeast Ohio) that Cleveland State assistant men’s basketball coach Jermaine Kimbrough has left to join Eric Musselman’s staff at Nevada. However, what hasn’t been publicized at all is the job posting for the position he left open.

Typically, when a public institution such as CSU has a job vacancy, it will put up the announcement on its employment opportunities page. But it seems that Kimbrough’s departure was so sudden that Athletics apparently hasn’t gotten around to putting together a job description and sending it over to Human Resources, as is standard protocol.

Perhaps Athletics simply intends to promote Director of Basketball Operations Victor Morris to the open spot, and then move to fill his position. Or maybe they’re trying to regain their bearings after being blindsided by the move, though that would indicate they had no idea Kimbrough, a veteran assistant, was going to stick around even though he likely had no promotional incentive to do so.

Or maybe posting a job at Cleveland State takes forever and I’m reading too much into this, which is always a distinct possibility.

Whatever the case may be, it remains a big hole to fill and the fact that the Vikings have a scholarship opening and no recruiting coordinator (as Kimbrough was) does kind of complicate their ability to get fill its full allotment by the start of the season. That is unless head coach Gary Waters decides to award Kennesaw State transfer guard Myles Hamilton a full ride, at which point, it’s a pretty moot point.

Why Is Everybody Leaving Cleveland State Basketball???

I can’t wait to see what CSU’s pitch to draw fans is going to be next year. Will “Cleveland State Basketball: At Least We’re Not Youngstown State!” be the slogan?

As it stands right now, it won’t be because fans will have any kind of hope to win anything next season. That tends to happen when you lose your top three scorers and four of your five starters. It’s kind of sad that fans may be referring to the back-to-back CollegeInsider.com Tournament bids as the salad days.

Though not entirely unexpected, redshirt junior forward Anton Grady has been given his release to leave Cleveland State and transfer. As was the case with Trey Lewis, Grady, who will graduate this May, is immediately eligible to play for another school.

But that wasn’t the only bad news this week coming out of the Wolstein Center, which seems to be a fountain of crappy news as of late. Assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Jermaine Kimbrough is leaving the Vikings to join Nevada and its new head coach, Eric Musselman.

So, when Cleveland State ends up finishing at the bottom of the Horizon League because of these recent events, I want you to have expected the flood of excuses and gripes coming out of the Wolstein Center.

“Oh, the system is broken!”

“The NCAA needs to change its transfer rules!”

A variation of each of these two statements is pretty much all you’re ever going to get out of the men’s basketball offices or Athletics, for that matter. And unless CSU is planning to cut another sport, you’ll probably read about all of these events in some news dump that’s lumped in with Akron and Kent State on cleveland.com.

So instead of waiting for questions that will never be asked and answers that will never be given, let me go ahead and start throwing around some ideas.

I will go ahead and start with the most obvious problem; the elephant in the room, if you will. If you have the opportunity to play at a high-major school, like Lewis, Bryn Forbes and, most likely, Grady do, aren’t you going to take it? And it’s not like the Vikings haven’t been able to go toe-to-toe with the big boys in years past.

No, this is all about the attention.

Take Lewis’ final destination of Louisville, for example. Thousands of people showed up for the Cleveland State game in November. Thousands. When Lewis announced his transfer, countless Cardinal fans were all over it, as was the local media.

Meanwhile, the Vikings, who only lost three games at the Wolstein Center this season, finished last in the Horizon League in home attendance, drawing less than 2,000 a game. Yes, Cleveland State was outdrawn by conference doormats YSU and Illinois-Chicago.

And I threw UIC in there to head off a well-heeled point constantly made by the folks at CSU about how it’s hard to draw in a pro town.

Chicago, of course, has five pro sports teams and four Division I programs (including nearby Northwestern). And Illinois-Chicago has bested Cleveland State in attendance two years in a row, including the 2013-14 season in which the Vikings finished second and the Flames won only a single game in the conference.

And if you have aspirations of a professional career, as I expect Lewis and Grady should have, you want as much media attention as possible.

How exactly is that going to happen when the largest newspaper in the area pays more attention to Ohio State and lumps your coverage in with two schools not located in Cleveland? Plus, how is that going to happen when one of the two sports radio stations largely ignores everything about your school (except your ad dollars, of course)?

I admit that I’m terribly frustrated by Lewis and Grady’s departure, but I understand why they left. In fact, I’ll bet that there are hordes of self-loathing CSU students who would transfer out the first chance they got.

And I also understand why Kimbrough would want to seek life elsewhere. After all, if you’ve been at the same job for nine years and you basically had no hope for a promotion, wouldn’t you want to get a better deal?

Yes, all of this sounds pretty harsh. So what? All anybody within the confines of Cleveland State is going to do is secretly grumble about anything I just said. It’s not like you haven’t been doing that for nearly 20 years anyway.

The transfer system may be broken, but perhaps you should look inward to see if you’re not a little broken yourselves, CSU.

The program has had a decent run. There’s no doubt about that. But the good times were brief, and we’re looking at a very low time once again that hasn’t been seen since coach Gary Waters took over. With three years left on his contract, Waters needs to check to see if complacency hasn’t set in and that it hasn’t infected his program.

Otherwise, we may soon have to do away with the “at least we’re not Youngstown State” point.