Stephen Gentry felt right at home at a recent Gonzaga athletic department staff meeting.
It was almost like he never left.
Gentry, a former Zag walk-on, has returned to Gonzaga as director of operations for men’s basketball. He replaces John Jakus, who departed for an assistant coaching position at Baylor.
“There were a lot of familiar faces and hugs to give out because there were a lot of people that were here when I was in school or when I was in grad school,” Gentry said. “It’s definitely a homecoming.
“That’s what makes this place so special and a big reason for the success is the continuity of the leadership.”
One of Gentry’s best friends is former teammate and roommate Brian Michaelson, now an assistant coach. Gentry played on Zag teams coached by Mark Few and assisted by Tommy Lloyd. Gentry attended grad school with Gonzaga women’s coach Lisa Fortier and her husband, Craig, a women’s assistant coach.
Gentry has been busy since completing his GU playing career in 2006. He started out as a video intern for the NBA Miami Heat, followed by six seasons at Texas A&M, the first four as video coordinator and the last two as director of operations.
Gentry then joined Brad Underwood’s staff at Stephen F. Austin as an assistant coach for three years. He accompanied Underwood to Oklahoma State as director of operations for one year. When Underwood took the Illinois job, Gentry was hired as an assistant to the head coach.
A phone call from Gonzaga made Gentry’s stay in Illinois a short one.
“I was looking for places to live, and was actually putting an offer in on a house,” Gentry said. “Tommy called and said, ‘Hey, hold off on that a little bit.’ It was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.”
Gentry, who grew up in Fort Scott, Kansas, wasn’t on the team in his first year at Gonzaga because there were 17 players on the roster. He watched every practice, worked out on his own and was on the squad for the next four seasons. He played in 19 games from 2004-06.
Teammate Tyler Amaya gave Gentry the nickname “Shaggy,” based on the character from Scooby-Doo.
“It literally stuck. Coach Few might not have known my real first name,” Gentry joked. “When I left literally nobody called me that. If I hear Shaggy, I know it’s a Gonzaga connection.”
He returned to Spokane twice in the last 11 years, once when Stephen F. Austin played at the Arena in the NCAA Tournament and a year ago for the Gonzaga alumni game.
Gentry’s GU duties will revolve around scheduling, analytics, camps, scouting and “just being another set of eyes.”
“I know the Gonzaga way and I’ve gone away and can come back with some new ideas and perspective,” he said. “But obviously they don’t need to reinvent the wheel here.”
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