Hewitt hires world-class coaching staff

During his press conference on May 2, head coach Paul Hewitt stressed the importance of hiring a talented and experienced coaching staff. Since then, he has acquired a strong trio of coaches. (John Powell).

After Paul Hewitt was formally announced as the new George Mason head coach at the Mason Inn on May 2, his first order of business was to assemble a staff of assistant coaches that fit in well with his system and would be good teachers and mentors for his team.

And he was able to do just that with the three coaches that he brought in: Chris Kreider, Roland Houston and Mike Wells.

Kreider, a former volunteer and administrative assistant with Hewitt at Georgia Tech, was his first choice. During his initial press conference, Hewitt raved about Kreider’s skills and talents as a coach, saying that he is a “hard worker, he knows basketball” and that he will be a “star.”

Kreider broke into coaching college basketball as a volunteer assistant at Georgia Tech, where he taught high school Spanish by day and helped run Georgia Tech practices in the evening.

“He allowed me to do a lot. I was able to learn a lot from a very good recruiter and a very good coach,” Kreider said. “He’s a team winner, he wants to win, he knows how to win and he knows how to build good chemistry.”

Of the new assistants, Kreider is the most familiar with Coach Hewitt.

“The biggest asset I bring to the coaching staff is just having been with Coach [Hewitt], from an organization standpoint, working with him and knowing what he’s looking for,” Kreider said.

One of the most notable hires of the off-season was that of former George Washington University assistant coach Roland Houston. The bigger storyline with Houston’s hire was his nephew, Erik Copes, who decided to rescind his letter of intent to play at George Washington and committed instead to play at Mason. Copes, a 6’9’’ power forward and ESPNU Top 100 prospect is eligible to play next season and is the highest recruit that Mason has ever landed.

Houston is mostly known for his work with post players, which will help the Patriots rebounding, footwork and fundamentals. From a recruiting standpoint, he is familiar the D.C. Metropolitan area as well as Philadelphia, and has contacts throughout the region.

The final hire that Coach Hewitt made was former NBA scout Mike Wells. Last season, Wells was an assistant coach and advanced scout with the Washington Wizards.

“When Coach Hewitt called me, he presented a clear plan to build upon the success the school has already had,” Wells said. “Along with being familiar with Mason through the Wizards training camp and the great season they had last year, it just seemed like a great fit.”

One of the biggest contributions Wells will bring the Patriots is his knowledge of the top players in the world. Throughout his 17 seasons coaching in the NBA, Wells has worked with some of the best players in the history of the game, from his time as a video assistant with the Houston Rockets in 1995 to his time as a scout for the 2000 U.S. Olympic team. 

“The big thing I bring is just the knowledge that players need to become professionals. The organization, preparation, and discipline that is necessary to become an NBA player,” Wells said. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with [Hakeem] Olajuwon, [Clyde] Drexler, [Charles] Barkley, Kobe Bryant and many other great players throughout my career. Those guys are driven, are very competitive, they constantly strive to be the best, they are good people, and they get guys to follow them, and they have strong dedication and determination, which are all great qualities to have as a player.”

Wells also has the experience, pedigree and knowledge of the game that will pay dividends in recruiting and game preparation and analysis.

“In the NBA, I worked on scouting reports, worked in practice, scouting the International game, different tendencies players have on opposing teams to give our team and advantage. Basically any form of preparation for games,” he said.

Having a coach with the expertise of both scouting and studying the game in order to prepare the team for any opponent they face will be an advantage. 

Kreider and Wells each mentioned the shift to recruit and scout talent in some more international markets.

“We want to be able to recruit on a national and international level,” Kreider said. “My ability to speak Spanish will be helpful in this endeavor.”

With Kreider’s bilingual skills along with Wells’ knowledge of the international game, the Patriots will have a strong team of recruiters who will be able to draw some of the world’s top players to Fairfax.

“When it comes to the international game, we are looking for a different edge to draw top talent,” Wells said. “There are many extremely talented players, whether in Europe or China. The exposure of foreign players has also increased in that there are less guys you don’t know and it the talent is well scaled.”

Paul Hewitt is currently coaching the U19 USA Team, yet his new coaching staff is hard at work recruiting and preparing for Mason’s season. With the gifted cast he’s assembled, it gives hope for a strong season and future of George Mason basketball.

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