Cuonzo Martin Named Cal Men’s Basketball Coach
BERKELEY, Calif. – Bringing a track record of success that includes a conference Coach of the Year honor and postseason berths each of the past five seasons, Cuonzo Martin has been named the 16th head men’s basketball coach at the University of California, Berkeley, Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour announced.
“Cuonzo brings a strong track record of success on the court, in the classroom and in the community,” said Barbour. “He is known as and is committed to developing his student-athletes both as basketball players and as men. He has been a leader and a winner everywhere he has been. We are excited to have Coach Martin join our Golden Bears athletic family and look forward to much success during his tenure.”
Martin, who guided Tennessee thee past three years, including a spot in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in March, and previously led the program at Missouri State for three seasons, has been tabbed to lead the Golden Bears following an extensive national search. He will oversee a young Cal program that welcomes back three starters and five of its top-seven scorers from a 21-win campaign in 2013-14.
Martin owns a career record of 124-82, winning more than 60 percent of his games as a head coach. The mentor has guided his teams to the postseason each of the last five years, averaged more than 20 victories over six seasons, and directed his teams to a greater win total than the previous year at each of his two coaching stops.
“I am pleased to be here and honored to have the opportunity to lead the University of California’s men’s basketball program,” Martin said. “The conditions for success at Cal are right and I believe we can compete at the highest level and continue the success here in Berkeley. Sandy Barbour’s reputation nationally is outstanding and having the opportunity to work with her and to coach at Cal is one that I am very excited about. This is an incredible academic and athletic institution and I am proud to now be a part of it as well as the Pac-12 Conference.”
The 42-year-old Martin, a native of East St. Louis, Ill., has served the game of basketball for more than two decades, beginning with a standout four-year playing career at Purdue University. He has played and coached alongside some of the most highly-regarded mentors in the game, including Hall of Fame Coach Gene Keady. Martin is a member of a distinguished group of successful college basketball coaches to serve under Keady, along with Matt Painter (Purdue), Bruce Weber (Illinois and Kansas State), Steve Lavin (UCLA and St. John’s) and Kevin Stallings (Vanderbilt).
“Identifying the right head coach for our men’s basketball team was a high priority for us, and warranted a significant investment of time and effort,” stated Chancellor Nicholas Dirks. “Together with Athletic Director, Sandy Barbour, we spoke with a large number of highly qualified candidates and carefully evaluated their personal and professional attributes. I am confident that in Cuonzo Martin we have found an exceptional coach and educator, with a proven ability to support the athletic and academic success of his student athletes. I know that he will be a great fit for our program and our campus.”
As the head coach at Tennessee this past season, Martin led the Volunteers to the Sweet 16 and a national ranking of 23rd in the final USA Today coaches poll. With a 24-13 final record, Tennessee matched its fourth-best win total in school history and recorded the most victories since the 2009-10 campaign. After earning a berth in the NCAA’s First Four, the Martin-led Volunteers captured victories over Iowa, Massachusetts and Mercer to equal the most wins in one NCAA Tournament in program history.
Over his three seasons at Tennessee, Martin posted a 63-41 mark, taking the Vols to the postseason all three years. They finished in the top-five of the powerful SEC in each of Martin’s three seasons, including a tie for second in his first campaign after the squad was predicted to place 11th in the conference’s preseason poll. UT earned a berth in the National Invitation Tournament his first two years, before garnering an NCAA Tournament selection this past season. Under Martin’s tutelage, forward Jarnell Stokes was a two-time first-team All-SEC selection and was one of just three individuals in the six power conferences this season to average a double-double. Stokes led the SEC and ranked seventh nationally in rebounding at 10.6 rpg., while also averaging 15.1 ppg.
Predicated on tenacity and defense, Martin’s 2013-14 Tennessee squad limited opponents to just 61.7 ppg., the lowest in the SEC and second-lowest total at UT since 1969. The Vols ranked 18th nationally in total defense this past year.
Prior to taking over at Tennessee, Martin served as head coach at Missouri State for three years where he built a record of 61-41 with win totals of 24 and 26 his final two seasons. He led the Bears to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament title in 2010. In 2010-11, Martin guided Missouri State to its first-ever regular-season Missouri Valley Conference championship and along the way became the program’s first-ever MVC Coach of the Year. He was the 2011 recipient of the Ben Jobe National Coach of the Year Award, presented annually to the top minority head coach in Division I men’s basketball.
Martin began his coaching career serving as an assist on the staff at West Lafayette High School in Indiana. His first stint as a collegiate coach came at Purdue where he joined the staff for the 2000-01 season under Keady, his college coach. He remained on staff with current Purdue head coach Matt Painter and was elevated to associate head coach for the 2007-08 season before being hired as head coach at Missouri State the next year. During his eight-year tenure at Purdue, Martin mentored several all-conference standouts, including All-American and current Minnesota Timberwolves forward Robbie Hummel.
Martin also has experience as a coach with USA Basketball, serving on the staff for the USA Junior National Team at the 2011 FISU World University Games in Shenzhen, China.
As a player, Martin was a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 1995 at Purdue when he averaged 18.4 ppg and sank 91 three-pointers. He graduated in 1995 as one of the program’s all-time leaders in three-pointers (179) and one of the Boilermakers’ career scoring leaders (1,666). Playing under Keady and alongside All-American Glenn Robinson, Martin led Purdue to a pair of Big Ten titles and to a 90-37 record over four years. The Boilermakers went to the postseason each season with Martin, reaching the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament as a junior in 1994.
Following his stellar collegiate playing career, Martin was selected by the Atlanta Hawks with the 57th overall pick of the 1995 NBA Draft. He played professionally for four years with the Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks and Vancouver Grizzlies. In 1997, Martin was the leading scorer for Felize Scandone in Italy.
Martin returned to his alma mater where he earned his bachelor’s degree in restaurant, hotel, institutional and tourism management from Purdue in 2000. He and his wife, Roberta, have two sons, Joshua and Chase, and a daughter, Addison.
Cal finished the 2013-14 season 21-14 overall and tied for third in the Pac-12 Conference, advancing to the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament. The Bears completed their winningest six-year stretch in school history under Mike Montgomery, who announced his retirement from coaching in March.