FROM PULLMAN — WSU officially confirmed today that former assistant basketball coach Jeff Hironaka has accepted a new role as the team's director of player development/special assistant to the head coach, a move made in order to allow coach Ken Bone to hire a new assistant with broader recruiting reach. Read on for more.
Bone confirmed the news in a phone interview earlier today. He said the move is motivated primarily by the need to add a recruiter to the staff who has unique contacts in areas the Cougars currently don't. Bone, Hironaka and assistant Curtis Allen all have deep roots in the Seattle/Tacoma area. Bone and Hironaka have worked together for 11 seasons at SPU.
Bone said he hopes to make the assistant hire in the next week or two. Hironaka fills the vacancy left by former coordinator of basketball operations Jared Barrett, who is now an assistant coach at Southern Utah.
“I just wanted to put people in the positions I think they can be most efficient,” Bone said. “I think Jeff can do a great job in some other areas which he’s already done. He’ll still continue to be our lead scout. He does probably half the scouts for our games during the year.
“Recruiting is not just going out and recruiting players. There’s a lot of recruiting that’s done in the office especially when you’re in Pullman. Kids on campus, kids on unofficials, officials — he’ll still have involvement in recruiting and he’ll be very good with some academic stuff and a few of those duties, but I think bringing in another guy can give us strength in being a little more widespread recruiting wise, maybe someone who has contacts in different parts of the country that none of us have. I feel like we can become a better staff with the addition of another assistant coach, and that’s what I’m trying to do. That’s what everybody tries to do.”
What Hironaka can't do now is recruit off-campus or give on-court instruction during games.
His bread-and-butter has always been practice and game preparation from an x-and-o standpoint — as Vince detailed in this story during the 2011 NIT — and he'll still be just as involved in that aspect.
“I’ll probably be in his office more than anybody’s office during the course of the year,” Bone said.
I asked Bone if he was concerned at all about retaining Hironaka, who was Seattle Pacific's head coach from 2002 to 2009 before joining Bone at WSU and might want to be a head coach again some day.
“You never know. There’s other staffs that do this all the time,” Bone said. “I hope he stays here, selfishly. He’s a great piece. He adds a lot to our staff, but you never know. He might do it for a year or two and think, 'Hey, I’d rather get out and recruit some more.' Sometimes guys say, 'I like this, I like what I’m doing.' I don’t know yet whether he’ll like it or love it or want to get out of it.
“He accepts the role, just like players sometimes get moved to a different position,” Bone said. “They might rather have one role than the other but hopefully they accept it. In Jeff’s case, he’s been around for a while andi think he recognizes that we need to be able to network in other areas of the country, so I think he’s ready to go in a new position and he’ll do a great job.”
As of now, Bone said, there's no change to Hironaka's salary.
“Jeff’s really valuable,” Bone said. “Him and I have worked together for a long time. He’s extremely valuable. But for the betterment of the program, I think it’s a good move to make.”