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August 5, 2013

Lavin Adds Assistant Coach Jim Whitesell To Staff





St. John's head men's basketball coach Steve Lavin announced Monday the naming of veteran mentor Jim Whitesell to the Red Storm staff as an assistant coach.

The associate head coach at Saint Louis University for the past two years, Whitesell spent 24 seasons as a head coach at the NCAA Division I, II and III levels prior to his time with the Billikens, and brings 31 years of collegiate coaching experience to St. John's already elite and specialized sideline corps.

Whitesell's wealth of experience adds to Lavin's St. John's staff, which continues to be one of the nation's most formidable. Fourth-year mentors Rico Hines and Tony Chiles, with Whitesell, comprise the Red Storm's assistant coaching unit. Darrick Martin, in his second year at St. John's, takes over as the Red Storm program's Director of Operations. Six-time national coach of the year and 2013 College Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Gene Keady begins his fourth season as Special Assistant/Advisor, while Derrick Wrobel is in his fourth year as Assistant to the Head Coach. Graduate assistants Jason Tilton and Shogo Fukuda complete the Red Storm bench with seventh-year Strength and Conditioning Coach Patrick Dixon and legendary Assistant Athletics Director for Sports Medicine Ron Linfonte, whose 33-year tenure at St. John's dates to the days of Mullin, Berry, Jackson and Carnesecca.

"Jim Whitesell's numerous coaching stops and 24 years of head coaching experiences at the highest levels of collegiate competition is a nice complement to our specialized staff," said Lavin. "Coach Whitesell joining our basketball family gives our staff more than 110 years of combined coaching experience. We are pleased to have Jim on board as a Johnnie."

"I am very excited about joining the St. John's basketball family," said Whitesell. "SJU has such a fantastic Basketball tradition. The opportunity to work with Steve Lavin and his staff is incredible as Steve is building a very special program at SJU. I am looking forward to being part of it and helping in any way possible."

Whitesell served as Associate Head Coach for the nationally-ranked Billikens during a pair of NCAA Tournament runs in 2011-12 and 2012-13, where SLU's combined record was 54-15. Hired by late Saint Louis head coach Rick Majerus, Whitesell was a part of a record-setting campaign at SLU in 2012-13, where the Billikens posted an all-time best 28-7 mark, captured the Atlantic 10 regular-season and championship tournament title, reached the NCAA Third Round and finished the season with a national No. 13/16 ranking. In 2011-12, Whitesell helped Saint Louis post a 26-8 record, the third-most wins in program history. The Billikens earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and topped Memphis in the Second Round.

Whitesell joined SLU after spending the prior seven seasons as the head coach at Loyola (Chicago). Prior to his time with the NCAA Division I Ramblers, Whitesell was head coach at NCAA Division II Lewis University (Ill.) (1992-2004) and NCAA Division III Elmhurst College (Ill.) (1987-92). He amassed a career record of 387-301 in 24 seasons. Whitesell also served in assistant coaching roles at North Dakota (1982-83 - graduate assistant), Ellsworth C.C. (Iowa) (1983-84), Wabash Valley C.C. (Iowa) (1984-85) and Minnesota State (1985-87).

Whitesell guided the Loyola (Chicago) Ramblers to 109 victories in seven seasons, including a 21-win campaign in 2006-07, which was the program's first 20-win season since 1985. In addition, he coached two of Loyola's top-10 scorers in Blake Schilb and J.R. Blount. Two of Whitesell's players earned the Horizon League Sixth Man of the Year Award in consecutive seasons, and he coached student-athletes who rank in Loyola's career top 10 in several statistical categories.

At Lewis University, an NCAA Division II school in the Chicago suburb of Romeoville, Whitesell guided the Flyers to a 214-126 record in 12 seasons. He took the Flyers to the NCAA Tournament five times and had eight squads post 18 or more wins. In his final three seasons at Lewis, Whitesell's Flyers went a combined 72-22 and reached the NCAA Tournament all three seasons.

Whitesell's 2003-04 program finished 24-7 and captured the program's first Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) championship in 16 years. He was named the GLVC's Coach of the Year, National Association of Basketball Coaches Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year and Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Division II Coach of the Year. His 2003-04 squad was ranked as high as No. 11 in the nation, and the 2001-02 Flyers equaled the school record with 25 victories and advanced to the NCAA Division II Sweet Sixteen.

Off the court, Whitesell has a reputation of developing complete student-athletes. He saw 95 percent of his players graduate in 24 years as a collegiate head coach, including 100 percent of his players at Loyola Chicago. Additionally, Loyola was one of only 13 schools in the nation to have been saluted by the NCAA with a Public Recognition Award for its Academic Progress Rate (APR) score from 2008-11.

Whitesell has used innovative means to generate student support at games, as he implemented several on-campus and community initiatives at Loyola to bring support and awareness to the basketball program. Loyola's student section was named the Horizon League's Top Student Section in 2009-10.

Whitesell began his head coaching career at Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Ill., where he spent five seasons. Prior to Whitesell's arrival, the Bluejays had not posted a winning campaign in 17 seasons. Whitesell turned the program around, culminating in 1991-92 with a 19-9 record and the program's first-ever NCAA Division III Tournament berth.

A native of Iowa Falls, Iowa, Whitesell is a 1982 graduate of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He earned a master's degree in education from the University of North Dakota. Whitesell's wife, Connie, is a partner with the human resources consulting firm PW Associates in Chicago.



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