COLUMBIA — Missouri coach Frank Haith completed his staff Tuesday, as the school announced the hiring of former Drake coach Mark Phelps.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
Phelps said Missouri’s facilities, staff and recent success — including a 53-16 record and two NCAA Tournament appearances under Haith — made his decision to join the staff a slam dunk, even though he had offers from other high-major Division 1 programs.
“I had some other opportunities and this was, by far, an absolute no-brainer,” Phelps said. “I would have run to Missouri on two feet for the opportunity.”
Phelps, 47, replaces Rick Carter, who recently left Missouri after one season to become an assistant at Xavier. Phelps most recently spent five seasons at Drake, where his teams went a combined 77-86 before he was fired in March.
“I’m probably more of the mind-set of looking forward. I probably don’t have a public inventory of all the things I wish I had done better,” Phelps said of his experience at Drake. “Obviously, win a few more games and advance a little bit more in postseason. But I think if you ask any coach in America, they’d probably tell you the same things.”
Before he was hired at Drake, Phelps spent 12 years as an assistant at North Carolina State and Arizona State and posted a 148-53 record at a pair of Virginia high schools from 1990-96.
“I’ve known Mark for a number of years and have always admired his approach to the game of basketball,” Haith said in a statement. “When we had this opening become available Mark was my first call and it speaks well of Mizzou that we were able to recruit him away from some other great programs.
“He was a highly respected high school coach in Virginia and he has ties throughout basketball from his time in the ACC, Pac-12 and Missouri Valley … so we are excited to get him on campus, get him acclimated to Mizzou and out on the road next month.”
Phelps, who touted his experience recruiting basketball hotbeds like Illinois, New York, Washington, D.C. and California during his 17-year collegiate coaching career, said he can’t wait to get started next to fellow assistants Dave Leitao and Tim Fuller.
“Missouri is a school that you can recruit nationally to,” Phelps said. “The fact that I’ve been able to recruit both coasts and the Midwest, I think, prepares me to jump in there with Coach Leitao and Coach Fuller and do a good job of recruiting. … I just want to jump in and pull my weight and do my part along those lines.”