Northwestern State announces men’s basketball staff

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NSU Demons men's basketball
(Left to Right): Leighton Kentwell (director of basketball operations), Tony Holliday (assistant coach), Corey Gipson (head coach), Tim Ward (assistant coach) and Rodney Hamilton (associate head coach) will serve as NSU men’s basketball’s staff for this upcoming season.

NATCHITOCHES – New Northwestern State head basketball coach Corey Gipson has completed his coaching staff for the upcoming season.

Memphis’ Rodney Hamilton is the associate head coach with Michigan high school legend Tony Holliday and Talladega’s Tim Ward serving as assistant coaches. Former UNC-Pembroke assistant Leighton Kentwell is the director of basketball operations.

“I am extremely fortunate and blessed to assemble such a first-class staff that I consider my family,” Gipson said. “They each possess an authentic, driven and hard-working mindset that has enabled them to be champions in all facets of life.

“In regard to teaching, coaching and strategy, each coach brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. This staff is the greatest example of loyalty and brotherhood, which will reflect the mindset of the program.”

Hamilton served under Penny Hardaway at Memphis as the program’s director of basketball operations for the past four seasons, all 20-plus win campaigns with a 2021 NIT title and a 2022 NCAA Tournament win against Boise State with a near-upset of No. 1 seed Gonzaga.

As a Tennessee State assistant for six seasons from 2012-18, he helped the Tigers produce three winning seasons and another .500 record, including a 20-win campaign and NIT berth in 2016.

Hamilton has college head coaching experience as the Indiana Tech women’s basketball coach from 2009-12. The Warriors went from a one-win program two seasons before Hamilton’s arrival to winning double-digit games in each of Hamilton’s three seasons, including a 16-15 record in 2010-11.

The Georgia State product was a two-time All-ASUN first-team selection and is the first Panther to have his uniform retired following a professional career overseas in Sweden, Switzerland and Hungary.

Tony Holliday helped build the foundation of NCAA Division II Livingstone College as an associate head coach after a storied career in Michigan high school basketball.

In his decade at Livingstone, the Blue Bears won three Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Southern Division Championships and two CIAA Tournament titles, including the program’s first-ever division title in 2012-13 with a program-record 22 wins.

Holliday helped guide two Boxtorow Players of the Year, which is awarded to the best player from a Division II HBCU.

He chiseled his name into the Michigan high school basketball bedrock, helping the Flint Northwestern girls to the 1983 and 1984 state titles as an assistant, taking the Flint Northern boys to the 1995 state title and leading Beecher High’s boys and girls to district and region championships along with the boys 2003 state semifinals.

Holliday’s top players included Northwestern’s Tonya Edwards (Tennessee and WNBA), Northern’s Mateen Cleaves (NBA, Michigan State, 2000 national champions) and Beecher’s Marquise Gray (Michigan State).

Tim Ward has helped his past two teams to national tournament runs.

As an assistant at Moberly Area Community College, the squad posted a 28-7 record with Midwest District and Region 16 titles before falling in the second round of the NJCAA national tournament this past season.

His Talladega College team won 26 games and advanced to the second round of the NAIA national tournament in 2019-20.

Ward was a graduate assistant at his alma mater William Woods for two seasons and an assistant for another as the Owls combined for 55 victories in that span.

Leighton Kentwell served as a UNC-Pembroke assistant this past season as the Braves rattled off a 27-4 mark, a 22-2 record in Conference Carolinas and a first-round win in the D-II Southeast Regional.

After four undergraduate seasons as head student manager, Kentwell was a graduate assistant at Missouri State on the staff with Gipson.

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