Jack Owens, a veteran associate head coach from Purdue, will be the 27th head coach of Miami’s men’s basketball team.
The announcement came Wednesday, March 29 — 19 days after John Cooper’s contract was not renewed after five years as head coach.
Owens has spent nine years at Purdue — three as an assistant coach and the last six years as associate head coach. He helped Purdue win a Big Ten regular-season championship in 2016-17 and recorded 209 total wins with the Boilermakers. The Boilermakers made the NCAA Tournament seven times and advanced to the Sweet 16 three times during Owens’ time at Purdue.
Miami went 11-21 this past season (4-14 Mid-American Conference), losing in the first round of MAC play. The RedHawks haven’t made the NCAA tournament since 2007 and haven’t advanced to the Sweet Sixteen since 1999.
“First of all, I’m humbled and excited to be here,” Owens said in a press conference March 30. “This a great place and we’re going to do something special here. I think we have the pieces in place to do that.”
Besides winning more games and tournament titles, Owens will be called upon to recruit competitive student-athletes. Miami has 21 MAC titles, 17 NCAA appearances and a handful of NBA players – a successful history Owens will cite on the recruiting trail.
“As far as recruiting, we will attack every area in the Midwest,” said Owens, an Indianapolis native. “We will have a four- to five-hour radius where we will know everyone who can play at our level. And the ones we don’t know we will get to know as soon as possible.”
Athletic Director David Sayler stressed the importance of providing a rewarding experience for Miami student-athletes.
“His skill development with his student-athletes is off the charts,” Sayler said. “We got a lot of comments about the work he did for [Purdue] and helping them prepare for life. He’s been able to find players, recruit players, develop players and transform their lives in ways that only schools like Purdue and Miami can. That connection is important to me and something that will be beneficial to our program.”
Owens has helped produce five NBA draft picks, notably A.J. Hammons of the Dallas Mavericks and Robbie Hummel, who was drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft and now plays for Khimki of the VTB United League. Owens also helped in the development of Purdue sophomore forward Caleb Swanigan, who was recently named one of five finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, given to the nation’s top player.
Miami’s community is eager to see positive results, basketball fans are ready to watch the RedHawks compete and the men’s basketball team looks forward to establishing relationships with their new coach.
Owens directed his eagerness to members of the team present at the conference.
“I’m looking forward to getting here and getting going and making Miami basketball one of the better programs in the Midwest,” he said. “Thank you to the players as well for coming out. It means a lot to have you guys here. I’m looking forward to building a relationship with you guys and doing something special. But it’s going to all start with hard work. And that’s what I’m about. I’m looking forward to meeting all of you guys and moving forward.”
Before Purdue, Owens was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for five years at Southern Illinois University. Before that, he was an assistant coach at Eastern Illinois University, Barton Community College and Howard Community College, with a year at each institution.
He played basketball throughout college at Murray State University, Howard Community College and Eastern Illinois. During his two years at EIU, Owens served as team captain his senior year and earned team MVP and the Outstanding Defensive Player honor – all testaments to his character.
“You go through life and you realize that people that work hard, people that are dedicated, people who don’t chase jobs, but people that just do their work and let their work stand for them — good things happen to those people,” Sayler said. “That’s really what I think today is all about with Jack for us.”
Owens said he is looking forward to raising his family in Oxford, using Miami’s athletic facilities and hiring assistant coaches. He also plans to create a defensive team identity that aims to limit opponents’ opportunities for runs, while traveling up and down the court offensively.
“I can tell this place is the right place for me, it’s the right time for me and the people here are great,” Owens said.