David Riley comes from a family of doctors and high-level coaches.
His father, Ed Riley, is an anesthesiologist at Stanford.
His uncle, Mike Riley, is the former head football coach at Nebraska and Oregon State.
The 32-year-old David, who was promoted Thursday to replace Shantay Legans as head men’s basketball coach at Eastern Washington, doesn’t figure to have to perform much surgery in the near future.
His Eagles look pretty healthy moving forward.
An associate head coach under Legans last season, Riley inherits a winning program he helped build. The Eagles won the Big Sky Conference Tournament earlier this month and threw a scare into Kansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling 93-84. They won a Big Sky regular-season title in 2020 and reached the Big Sky title games in 2018 and 2019.
With Legans off to the University of Portland, EWU athletic director Lynn Hickey didn’t have to look far to keep his highly successful, wide-open, 3-point-heavy offense in Cheney.
“David has been an integral part of Eagle basketball for years and so he understands the culture and the potential that this program has,” Hickey said of Riley. “He is a very bright, young coach who has a tremendous work ethic and a heart for Eastern Washington University.”
EWU signed Riley to a five-year contract. Other details of his deal were not immediately available.
“We have just completed an outstanding season and we are confident that Coach Riley is the leader who can continue that momentum and success with our program,” Hickey said.
Riley spent the past 10 seasons at EWU, where he started as a graduate assistant, joining former coach Jim Hayford’s staff in 2011 after starring for Hayford at Whitworth University.
Hayford, who led the Eagles to the NCAA Tournament in 2015 before leaving for Seattle University two years later, promoted Riley to full-time assistant in 2014.
Riley finds himself with his first head coaching job, taking over a program that has been at or near the top of the Big Sky Conference for most of the past decade.
The California native believes he can keep that momentum going.
“My former coaches and bosses Shantay Legans, Jim Hayford, and (current Gonzaga women’s assistant) Craig Fortier have taught me so much, along with all the other assistants who have helped me throughout my time here,” Riley said. “I’m so grateful to (EWU president) Dr. (David) May and Lynn Hickey for giving me this opportunity to build upon the success our program has had.”
The bulk of EWU’s roster is eligible to return next season, including Big Sky Most Valuable Player Tanner Groves, a 6-foot-9 forward, and two-time all-conference wing and Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year Kim Aiken Jr. In addition, Tyler Robertson (the conference’s reserve of the year), Jacob Groves and starting guards Jack Perry and Michael Meadows are expected back.
Riley said his initial intentions are to meet with players individually and begin charting their future, as some may consider entering the NCAA transfer portal.
“I want to see what’s best for both of us,” Riley said.
He also needs to fill out a coaching staff, because assistant coaches Bobby Suarez and TJ Lipold will likely follow Legans to Portland.
After Legans left, several players, including Tanner Groves, publicly endorsed the hiring of Riley.
“I am really happy for Dave,” Groves said. “No guy deserved that job more than him. He has put in a lot of time and effort in the program, in the community of Cheney. I can’t wait to see what he does.”
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