GREENSBORO, N.C. – New UNCG men's basketball coach Wes Miller has made his first hires, bringing in former Rice University assistant Mike Roberts as his associate head coach and former North Carolina teammate and assistant strength and conditioning coach Jackie Manuel as an assistant coach.
Roberts comes to UNCG after four years as an assistant coach at Rice under head coach Ben Braun. Roberts also served two years on Braun's staff at California from 2006-08.
"Wes is someone that I have known and respected for more than 10 years," Roberts said. "My family and I are excited about joining the UNCG community and helping build upon the success that coach Miller and the team had last season. I am also very grateful to all of the former coaches and bosses that helped put me in position for this opportunity."
The Owls improved in each of the last three seasons with Roberts on staff, culminating in a 19-16 record in 2011-12, the program's first winning season since 2005. The 19 wins were also a program high since the 2004-05 campaign.
Rice participated in the 2012 CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, winning two games to reach the CIT quarterfinals. A first-round win over Louisiana-Lafayette marked the Owls' first postseason win since a first-round victory in the 1993 NIT.
Roberts coached Rice's post players and was the academic supervisor to seven Conference USA All-Academic recipients. In 2011, Rice received C-USA's Sport Academic Award, which is given annually to the team with the highest grade point average for each conference-sponsored sport.
Roberts also supervised academics at Cal, helping the squad post its best team GPA in 10 years. Prior to becoming an assistant on the Bears' staff, Roberts was the team's video coordinator for the 2006-07 season.
The Terre Haute, Ind., native spent a year as a graduate assistant coach at Texas Tech under Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight after wrapping up his playing career at Indiana. The 2005 graduate helped the Hoosiers to three NCAA tournament appearances and one NIT berth and was a member of IU's 2002 NCAA runner-up squad. He was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten Conference selection and earned the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award in 2005, when he was a team captain.
"I am thrilled that Mike Roberts, his wife, Janet, and his son, Paxton, have joined our basketball family," Miller said. "Mike has tremendous experience and knowledge of the game of basketball. He played and worked under a Hall of Fame coach in Bob Knight and has coached and developed successful teams at Cal and Rice. He will be a valuable asset to the program because of his experience, perspective and ability to develop post players. We are extremely fortunate to have Mike at UNCG."
Manuel joins the UNCG staff after a one-year stint as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at his alma mater. There, he prepared and assisted with the execution of the strength training workout plan for the men's basketball team while learning the ropes of coaching from Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams.
"It's a great honor, and I'm very thankful for Wes to think of me that highly," Manuel said. "I'm very appreciative and just blessed. It brings back old memories. It doesn't happen often, whether it's playing, coaching, whatever it is, that you get to be with a teammate again. It's going to be good. We know each other very well, so the transition should be real easy."
In Manuel's one year on staff at UNC, the Tar Heels went 32-6 overall, won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title and advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight. North Carolina began the 2011-12 campaign ranked No. 1 in the nation.
Manuel wrapped up a five-year professional playing career in 2011. He spent the 2010-11 season playing for the Miyazaki Shining Suns in Miyazaki, Japan, averaging 18 points, six rebounds and three assists per game. Prior to that, he spent four seasons in the NBA Development League, playing for the Erie Bayhawks (the minor league affiliate of the New York Knicks), the Iowa Energy (Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Hornets and Washington Wizards) and the Los Angeles D-Fenders (Los Angeles Lakers).
The West Palm Beach, Fla., native was a two-time All-ACC Defensive Team member as a player for the Tar Heels, taking the honor in 2003-04 and 2004-05. He was a tri-captain for North Carolina's national championship squad in 2005, when he and Miller were teammates.
"Jackie Manuel brings a wealth of collegiate and professional playing experience to our program," Miller said. "He is positive and energetic and I am confident he will relate extremely well to our players and prospects. As one of his teammates in college, I know firsthand that Jackie Manuel is hard-working, team-orientated and a fiercely competitive winner. As he makes this transition to coaching, I expect him to impact our program immediately in the same way he has impacted all of the teams he played on. There is no doubt in my mind that he will do that here. We welcome Jackie, his wife, Rhonda, and his daughter, Ryan, to our basketball family."
Roberts and Manuel will assume their duties immediately.
- UNCG -