Long Branch — The Rotary Club of Long Branch and the Members of Phi Kappa Theta Fraternity of Seton Hall University will host a luncheon featuring Kevin Willard, Head Basketball Coach of Seton Hall Men’s Team, on Friday, October 17, at noon. The event will be held at Rooney’s Crab House in Long Branch.
The luncheon is open to all guests. The cost is $20 and Willard will discuss the basketball team’s prospects and Seton Hall’s 2014-2015 new team members.
Willard was named head coach of the Seton Hall men’s basketball program on March 29, 2010. He became the 19th head coach in Seton Hall history joining the Pirates after three years leading the Iona College men’s basketball program. In 2013-14, Willard ushered the Pirates into a new era in the Big East Conference in a year that was filled with milestones. Fuquan Edwin, a four-year-player under Willard, rose to first on the program’s all-time steals list and became the second Seton Hall player to take home the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award and the first since Jerry Walker in 1992-93.
Edwin was also named a Second Team All-Big East performer, while Jaren Sina added all-conference honors of his own, becoming the first Pirate selected to the All-Big East Rookie Team since 2007-08.
On the court, Willard guided The Hall to its first Big East Tournament semifinal appearance since 2001. Along the way, he orchestrated the program’s first victory over a nationally ranked opponent in the top-3 of the
Associated Press Poll, upending #3 Villanova in the quarterfinals on March 13.
Willard also mentored The Hall’s first Big East All-Tournament Team selection in over a decade with Eugene Teague receiving the prestigious accolade. ·
During the regular-season, Willard tallied the 100th victory of his head coaching career with a win over NJIT on December 10, 2013 and guided The Hall to season sweeps over Xavier and Georgetown. It was the Pirates’ first sweep of the Hoyas since the
In his four seasons at Seton Hall, Willard has reenergized the program with the Pirates enjoying success both on the court and in the classroom. Willard has mentored six All Big East selections, 12 Big East Academic All-Stars, and has boasted a perfect single-year academic progress rate in the three NCAA reports since becoming the Pirates’ head coach.
On the recruiting trail, Willard has built a solid foundation inking a consensus top-15 class in the nation for 2014. The class was rated as high as seventh among major online recruiting services and features the program’s first McDonald’s All-American since 2000 in Isaiah Whitehead, only the fifth all-time.
Willard quickly restored the Pirates to prominence by his second season in 2011-12. Seton Hall won 21 games, the most since the 2003-04 campaign, and earned a berth in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) for the 17th time in program history. As a #1 seed of the NIT, the Pirates scored a first round win over America East regular season champion Stony Brook, marking their first post-season victory in eight years.
Willard also vaulted The Hall back into the national rankings (#24) for the first time in nearly 12 years winning 15 of the first 17 games of 2011-12. It was the program’s best start since 1992-93. The Pirates earned victories over a pair of top-10 teams, with wins over the #8 Connecticut (Jan. 3) and #9 Georgetown (Feb. 21).
Seton Hall got off to a strong start again in 2012-13 in what proved to be an injury-plagued campaign. The Pirates opened with a 12-2 mark, a spurt that included a seven game win-streak.
Despite being limited to only seven healthy scholarship players at times during the second half of the season, the Pirates pulled together down the stretch. Seton Hall defeated NCAA Tournament bound Villanova (Feb. 25) with a thrilling last second comeback at the Prudential Center. The undermanned Pirates also picked up a Big East Tournament victory over South Florida (March 12), the third postseason triumph for Willard at Seton Hall.
n Willard’s first year in South Orange, the Pirates played one of the most difficult schedules in the nation, which included 10 games against ranked teams and 18 games against teams that made it to the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Despite the daunting gauntlet, the Pirates registered victories over eventual Metro Atlantic Athletic
Conference (MAAG) Champion Saint Peter’s, Marquette, #15 St. John’s and #9 Syracuse.
The 90-68 upset over the Orange was only Seton Hall’s fifth win in 27 games at the Carrier Dome.
Before Seton Hall, Willard took over the Iona head coaching job in 2007. He inherited a Gael’s team that had won just two games the prior season. Only three seasons later,
Willard guided Iona to a 21-10 overall record and was named MAAG Coach of the Year. During his first year as a head coach, the 2007-08 season, the Gaels finished with 10 more victories than the previous year, one of the top turnarounds in NCAA Div. I.
Prior to the start of his career as a head coach, Willard served the previous six seasons as an assistant and associate head coach at the University of Louisville, where he was mentored by college coaching legend Rick Pitino. Willard also credits h!s father, Ralph, as one of his coaching influences. Ralph Willard enjoyed a successful 19-year run as the head coach at Western Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Holy Cross.
At Louisville, Kevin Willard was responsible for assisting with the Cardinals’ game preparations, scouting and preparing game plans. He also served as chief recruiting coordinator.
During his tenure, Louisville was ranked in the Top 25 for five seasons and reached the post season in each of his six years. The squad reached the NCAA Tournament on four occasions including a visit to the 2005 Final Four, the first time in 19 years that the Cardinals had advanced that deep into the post season.
In his six seasons at Louisville, the Cardinals posted a phenomenal 142-58 record averaging nearly 24 wins per season.
Prior to Louisville, Willard worked with Pitino as a coaching associate with the Boston Celtics for four years. His duties with the Celtics included game and practice preparation, scouting and assisting the coaching staff in all facets of basketball operations. He also provided advance scouting, video tape breakdowns and assisted with individual workouts prior to games.
A basketball lifer, Willard played point guard on the Division I level for four years; the last three coming at the University of Pittsburgh. He earned Big East All-Academic honors while appearing in 75 games for the Panthers. He spent his freshman season at Western Kentucky, where he played in the Hilltoppers’ backcourt and sank over 40 percent of his three-point goals.
Willard hails from New York, but played his high school basketball at Bowling Green High School (Ky.) while his father was the head coach at Western Kentucky. He earned Second Team All-State honors as a senior and helped his team to a combined 76-15 record in his final three prep seasons.
He is married to the former Julie Wagner and they have two sons, Colin, who was born in August, 2006 and Chase born in June, 2008.