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Valparaiso brings back Roger Powell Jr. as Beacons’ new coach

Roger Powell Jr. (Provided Photo/Valparaiso University Athletics)

VALPARAISO, Ind. (AP) — Valparaiso hired former Illinois star Roger Powell Jr. as its new men’s basketball coach Friday, making him the first Black coach in program history.

Powell served an assistant coach at Valpo on coach Bryce Drew’s staff from 2011-16 and then followed Drew to Vanderbilt where he was the associate head coach. Powell spent the last five seasons at Gonzaga, which went 121-13 and finsihed as the 2020-21 national runner-up.

Powell replaces coach Matt Lottich, who was fired last month after going 108-117 in seven seasons, including 11-21 in 2022-23. Lottich, like Powell, also was an assistant with Drew but was promoted to head coach following Drew’s departure.

Under the mentorship of Drew and Powell, the Beacons won 124 games and reached the 2015-16 NIT title game. At Gonzaga, Powell was part of three straight Sweet Sixteen runs and two appearances in the Elite Eight.

“My family and I are extremely blessed to have the opportunity to come back to Valparaiso University where my coaching career started,” Powell said. “Now as the head men’s basketball coach, I have some unfinished business to attend to. It’s time to get to work.”

Powell was a three-year starter for the Fighting Illini and played in the 2004-05 national championship game. He finished his college career with 1,178 points and 531 rebounds then played one season with the NBA’s Utah Jazz before continuing his career in lower-profile leagues and eventually moving into the coaching ranks.