Shantay Legans is leaving Cheney.
Eastern Washington’s successful men’s basketball coach accepted the same position at the University of Portland, the 39-year-old confirmed Monday, on the heels of the Eagles’ third NCAA Tournament appearance.
Nearly 48 hours after No. 3 seed Kansas erased a double-digit, second-half deficit to beat No. 14 seed EWU 93-84 on Saturday in Indianapolis, Legans broke the news to his team.
Legans replaces former Portland Trail Blazers star and ex-NBA head coach Terry Porter, who was fired after posting a 43-103 mark in five seasons.
The Pilots – a West Coast Conference member with the likes of NCAA Tournament regulars Gonzaga, BYU and Saint Mary’s – haven’t had a winning season in conference play since the 2009-2010 season.
Portland hasn’t reached the NCAA Tournament since 1996.
The Pilots addressed their new hire on Monday night.
“In the interview process, we shared the strong belief that Portland very much has the potential to be successful in men’s basketball and we’re excited to realize that potential together,” Portland athletic director Scott Leykam said in a news release. “We were especially impressed with his ability to install a strong team culture, emphasize the importance of academic success and develop his student-athletes both on and off the floor.”
Legans, who has helped develop four Big Sky Conference MVPs in five seasons, believes he can attract similar under-the-radar talent to Portland and turn the Pilots into a winner.
“Not only did my philosophies with (Portland administration) and values align, but I could feel the university’s support and commitment to winning in every conversation,” Legans said in a news release. “That made my family and I feel very comfortable, and it became very clear to us how special a place Portland is, both the university and the community as a whole.
“This place has massive potential, and I am so incredibly honored and humbled to have been chosen to lead the Pilots into the next chapter. We are going to win here, and I can’t wait to get to Portland and get to work!”
EWU athletic director Lynn Hickey said Legans is a big loss for the program.
“He’s one of the best young coaches in America and we are sad to lose him,” Hickey said. “He had to do what is best for himself and his family. He’s a million-dollar coach.”
The former California point guard’s wide-open, 3-point-heavy system helped EWU reach three straight Big Sky Conference Tournament championship games, win a conference regular-season title in 2020 and reach this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Legans won 60 of his 82 games against Big Sky Conference opponents. He was formerly an assistant under Jim Hayford before Hayford left EWU for Seattle University in 2017.
Legans had one year left on his contract.
Hickey said an extension was discussed last summer.
Multiple sources have told The Spokesman-Review that EWU associate head coach David Riley, a former Whitworth standout, is applying for Legans’ former post.
“We have a great internal candidate (Riley), but obviously my phone has been blowing up today.
EWU returns nearly its entire roster from its NCAA Tournament team next season, including Big Sky Conference Most Valuable Player Tanner Groves.
“I am completely happy for (Legans),” Groves said. “He has shifted the program around. It was an honor and blessing to play for him. It sounds like it’s the right situation for him. Sad to see him go, but happy for him.”
Groves hopes the Eagles make an in-house hire.
“I would definitely think (Riley) should be the No. 1 guy,” Groves said. “He has worked hard, and I think he deserves it.”
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