Nashville, Tenn. — Jerry Stackhouse had a couple of interviews already lined up for possible NBA head-coaching jobs. He says he decided to take a college job because of his relationship with Vanderbilt’s new athletic director and the opportunity to turnaround the Commodores men’s program.
The former Pistons guard said during a news conference on Monday that he loves is teaching and coaching basketball, and his mutual respect for new Vanderbilt athletic director Malcolm Turner from watching him work as G League president was a big attraction to college where Stackhouse wasn’t looking at for his future as a coach.
“When Malcolm approached me about the possibility of this job and being here and everything all-encompassing with this university, it was hard for me to say no to him, and I’m super excited that they feel that I’m the guy to bring the magic back to Memorial and I’m truly excited about that,” Stackhouse said.
His lone head coaching experience is two years in the G League where he got to know a fellow North Carolina graduate in Turner, who was the league’s president. Turner took over as athletic director at Vanderbilt on Feb. 1.
Stackhouse succeeds Bryce Drew, who was fired March 22 after he went 40-59 in three seasons. He takes over a program that plays in the SEC’s oldest basketball arena at Memorial Gym, and the Commodores’ history includes three Southeastern Conference regular-season titles, two conference tournament titles – the last in 2012 – and 15 NCAA Tournament appearances.
The Commodores also became the first SEC team in 65 years to go winless in league play, and the top-rated players already have left early for the NBA.
The 18-year NBA veteran and two-time All-Star played in Detroit from 1997-2002, where he averaged 22.1 points per game. He was considered in NBA coaching searches last year by Toronto, New York, Charlotte and Orlando after his success coaching the Raptors’ NBA G League team. Stackhouse was an assistant with Toronto during the 2015-16 season.
Then he went 70-30 in two seasons with the Raptors 905, reaching the finals twice and winning a championship. He was the league’s coach of the year for 2016-17 when Turner presented him the trophy in his role as league president.
The Commodores last reached the NCAA Tournament in 2017 in Drew’s first season after being hired in April 2016 to replace Kevin Stallings. Drew’s worst season came after signing the highest-rated recruiting class ever at Vanderbilt. Five-star point guard Darius Garland hurt his knee Nov. 23 in a home loss to Kent State and later withdrew to prepare for the NBA draft.
Simisola Shittu, Drew’s other five-star recruit, announced Wednesday that he was entering the NBA draft also. Shittu was rated as the nation’s No. 11 player in his high school class, according to composite rankings of recruiting sites compiled by 247Sports.
Stackhouse left North Carolina after the 1995 Final Four and was the third overall pick in the NBA draft that year. He went back to North Carolina and graduated in 1999. He also finished an executive education program at Harvard Business School in 2017.
He also founded his own AAU program, Stackhouse Elite, in 2011. The program based in Atlanta has won a handful of titles in the 15-under, 16-under and 17-under divisions.