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Morrell named UNC Asheville coach

Johnson City Press • Apr 11, 2018 at 9:18 PM

Former Elizabethton High School and Milligan College star Michael Morrell has been named the new head basketball coach at UNC Asheville.

Morrell, 35, served as an assistant to Shaka Smart at the University of Texas the past three seasons and at VCU for four seasons before that.

He replaces Nick McDevitt, who resigned last month to become the new coach at Middle Tennessee State, and takes over an Asheville program which won its second straight Big South Conference regular-season title last season. The Bulldogs finished 21-13 after losing in double overtime to Southern Cal in the first round of the NIT tournament.

"The UNC Asheville men's basketball program is one that I have always admired having grown up in the area," Morrell said in a statement. "It's a program that prides itself on winning and doing things the right way. I look forward to continuing the already strong tradition of Bulldog basketball and helping to move it forward to hopefully even greater heights in the future.

"I am obviously also excited to return to an area that I love, while also being a part of one of the top liberal arts institutions in the country. I am looking forward to hitting the ground running to get ready for the upcoming season and beyond."

Named the top recruiter in the country under the age of 35 in 2015 by ESPN, Morrell has helped coach a team to the NCAA Tournament in nine of his 11 years at the NCAA Division I level.

As the primary recruiting coordinator the last three seasons at Texas, he helped pull in two top-five and one top-20 recruiting classes. The Longhorns advanced to the NCAA Tournament in both the 2015-16 seasons and the 2017-18 seasons.

"We are thrilled to officially announce that we have hired Mike Morrell as our head men's basketball coach," UNC Asheville Director of Athletics Janet Cone said. "His experiences, especially at Texas and VCU, show that he knows how to win at a high level, that he is a relentless recruiter and that he challenges his student-athletes to reach their full potential while always pushing them to become the best version of themselves. He has worked alongside some of the top minds in college basketball and he comes very highly recommended."

In addition to working with Smart at Texas, he was on his staff from 2011-15 at VCU, where the Rams made four NCAA tournament appearances and were ranked in the Top 25 in the final Associated Press poll three times.

Morrell, a three-year starter and 1,000-point scorer for Milligan College, began his coaching career in 2005 as an assistant to George Pitts at King College. In 2007, the Tornado won the Appalachian Athletic Conference tournament and advanced to the NAIA national tournament.

From 2007-10, Morrell served as an assistant to Oliver Purnell at Clemson, where the Tigers advanced to the NCAA tournament all three seasons, and he spent one season as an assistant at Charleston Southern.

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