CONWAY — Coastal Carolina basketball coach Cliff Ellis has emphasized the importance of this recruiting year as his program looks to capitalize on its 2014 NCAA tournament appearance, and in filling the recent vacancy on his staff he believes he has hired an assistant coach who can make an immediate and significant impact in that regard.
The Chanticleers announced Monday that Ellis has hired former Georgia and Virginia Tech assistant Stacey Palmore to fill the void created when Mamadou N’Diaye left in April for a position at Georgia Tech.
Palmore has 21 years of coaching experience and has spent time at five different Division I programs, most recently working the last five seasons at Georgia under head coach Mark Fox.
“I really like him,” Ellis said. “Stacey was a guy that I’d known about, but at the same time I knew the people he worked for and I think his experience, for where we want to take the program, without question for me he’s the guy for the job.
“Like myself, he’s been in the ACC, been in the SEC. When you’ve been in those wars, you know what it’s all about.”
Prior to his time at Georgia, Palmore spent five seasons at Virginia Tech working under former Hokies coach Seth Greenberg following stints at College of Charleston, Evansville and Western Carolina, where he signed future NBA first-round pick Kevin Martin.
While Palmore said he and Ellis had never formally crossed paths before speaking about this position, they have mutual friends in the coaching fraternity. Palmore worked at Virginia Tech with Ryan Odom – the son of former Wake Forest and South Carolina coach Dave Odom, who is one of Ellis’ closest friends in the business.
As for the Coastal Carolina position, Palmore said it was an appealing job for a number of reasons.
“I think it’s a little bit of a gold mine waiting to explode,” Palmore said of the Chants’ program. “It’s in a great recruiting area, it’s got a lot to sell kids and they’ve done well in the past. I think they’ve got great everything – got a great facility, got a good fan base and Coach Ellis is a [proven] veteran and it’s always good to work for good people and have a chance to learn more and expand your network.”
Georgia announced in April that Palmore would not be retained as an assistant coach, but Fox spoke supportively of his former assistant to the Atlanta media at that time and gave a strong recommendation to Ellis as well.
“I didn’t do anything wrong. Just parting of ways,” Palmore said of the split. “And I was fortunate and am fortunate to land at Coastal Carolina – a place where they’ve won before, they’ve got everybody coming back, and at the end of the day it’s a blessing for me to be able to do what I was called to do.
“I have deep S.C. roots so it’s almost like coming home a little bit. It’s a win-win for my family and myself so I don’t have any bitter words or things for anybody.”
Ellis said he talked to both Fox and Greenberg while doing his research on Palmore, a native of Greenwood.
“Everybody loves him,” Ellis said. “… I talked with Mark Fox, I talked with Seth Greenberg. Mark loves him and Seth said he’s about as good as he’s ever had. [He] just comes with great recommendations.”
Ellis said assistant coach Don Hogan will take over N’Diaye’s former responsibility of working with the Chants’ post players, while assistant Benny Moss will work with the perimeter players and Palmore will do a little of both – while playing a key role in recruiting, of course.
He began his coaching career as a high school coach in Virginia and also spent time at Lander University in Greenwood and Erskine (S.C.) College.
His recruiting ties to the region – from Virginia through Georgia – were a strong part of the appeal for Ellis
And Palmore said he’s already started work in that regard.
“[I’ve been] on the phone and texting people all day amongst unloading boxes,” he said. “We can officially go out [on the road] in July, but that hasn’t stopped me from calling parents and kids all day.”
The Chants will return four starters from a team that returned Coastal Carolina to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 21 years, and the goal moving forward is to continue to grow the national profile of the program while building on the foundation that’s been set.
Ellis feels he has the pieces in place – on both his roster and coaching staff to do that.
“He signed some great players over the years, both at Virginia Tech and Georgia. The coaches love him, the players really like him and I know that our players will,” Ellis said of Palmore. “Recruiting will be a big key to it. …
“We think this is a big year recruiting-wise because this is where we capitalize on our recent successes. We’re just excited to have Stacey along with that.”
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318 or on Twitter @RyanYoungTSN.