Davis Tabs Levi Watkins as Newest Assistant Coach
April 20, 2018
OXFORD, Miss. -- Ole Miss men's basketball head coach Kermit Davis has completed his coaching staff, announcing the hire of Levi Watkins as assistant coach. Watkins comes to Oxford after spending the past three seasons as an assistant coach at Arizona State.
"Levi Watkins has won everywhere he has been, either as a player and coach at NC State and also with coach Bobby Hurley at Buffalo and Arizona State," said Davis. "I feel Levi has great talents in recruiting areas that are different than mine, and he comes highly recommended as a coach on the floor with player development. We sure are glad to have his family join the Rebel family in Oxford!"
Watkins has 17 years of experience at the Division I level, including four at NC State as a student-athlete. He remained on the basketball staff at his alma mater for eight seasons before joining Bobby Hurley at Buffalo. Following a pair of seasons in which the Bulls won a MAC Championship and earned an NCAA Tournament berth, Watkins followed Hurley to Arizona State. There, they brought the Sun Devils back to the NCAA Tournament in just their third season in Tempe.
"I am very excited about the opportunity to join one of the finest, most highly regarded and well respected coaches in the country, in Coach Davis, at Ole Miss," said Watkins. "This is an excellent institution with a beautiful campus and great people. I am truly grateful to be a part of the Ole Miss family. The investment that is being made into these programs and our student-athletes is unmatched, and the sky is the limit for Ole Miss Athletics under the leadership of Chancellor Vitter, Athletics Director Ross Bjork and Coach Davis."
Before coming to Ole Miss, Watkins was an assistant coach at Arizona State for three seasons where he played a major role in all aspects of the program, including recruiting, player development, scouting and game preparation, academics and community relations. In Watkins' final season at Arizona State, the Sun Devils were ranked as high as No. 3 in the AP poll (highest in school history) and was the last undefeated team in Division I men's basketball. Arizona State went 12-0 in non-conference play and defeated two eventual 2018 NCAA Tournament No. 1 seeds (Kansas, Xavier). Arizona State was the only major conference team to lead their conference in scoring and turnover margin. Also in Watkins' final season at Arizona State, the Sun Devils broke their home basketball attendance record and participated in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
Prior to Arizona State, Watkins spent two seasons as an assistant coach at the University at Buffalo, where the Bulls went 42-20 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. In Watkins' final season at Buffalo he helped guide the University at Buffalo to its first MAC Championship and NCAA Tournament berth in addition to winning the MAC regular season title. Buffalo also tied the program's highest win total (23) and finished with a program-best RPI of 29. The Bulls won 10 road games in 2014-15, the most in school history. Buffalo closed the season as the conference leader in scoring, scoring margin and assists.
In his first year with Buffalo, Watkins helped lead the Bulls to their first outright MAC East title, leading the conference in both scoring margin and assists and ranking second in scoring. Watkins worked primarily with the post players and in both seasons a post player won the MAC Player of the Year honors. Forward Justin Moss, the 2015 MAC Player of the Year, led the conference in scoring and rebounding, while forward Javon McCrea became Buffalo's all-time leading scorer and led the MAC in both scoring and rebounding during the 2013-14 season while under Watkins' direction.
Prior to Buffalo, Watkins spent eight years as both the Director of Basketball Operations and Video Coordinator at North Carolina State University (NC State). Watkins touched all facets of the program, including all day-to-day operations, recruiting, player academics, daily scheduling, and managing the program's video operations, including scouting, film edits, and exchanges. He also mentored student-athletes for academic, professional, and personal development.
In addition to serving in those capacities, Watkins served as the Executive Camp Director, Academic Liaison, and Administrative Coordinator, as well as the liaison between men's basketball and various other athletic departments and campus units. During Watkins' tenure, the Wolfpack signed five top 15 nationally-ranked recruiting classes and a total of seven McDonald's All-Americans. He also had the opportunity to work with and/or for 12 Division I head coaches.
As a player, Watkins was part of the No. 1 high school recruiting class in 2001. Julius Hodge, the 2004 ACC Player of the Year and 2005 NBA 1st round pick, along with NBA veteran Josh Powell were in the same recruiting class as Watkins. Watkins played at NC State from 2002-05.
He helped lead the Wolfpack to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments, making NC State one of 21 teams in the country to do so at the time. NC State progressed to at least the second round in three of his four years, including the Sweet Sixteen during his senior season. He has been to a combined nine NCAA Tournaments over the course of his playing and coaching careers.
While playing at the prestigious Montrose Christian High School in Rockville, Maryland, Watkins was a 2001 Parade All-American and led his team to a final top 25 national ranking. As a senior, Watkins was named the Gatorade and USA Today Maryland State Player of the Year.
Watkins graduated from North Carolina State University with a bachelor's degree in business management. He and his wife, Monica, have two children: Levi (III) and Leah.
The remainder of the Rebels' non-conference schedule will be released at a later date. For the latest news and information on Ole Miss Basketball, follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissMBB, on Facebook at Ole Miss Men's Basketball and on Instagram at olemissmbb.
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