George Mason hires Tennessee assistant Kim English to head men’s basketball program

Kim English (Tennessee photo)

3/23/2021

FAIRFAX, Va. – George Mason University Vice President/Director of Athletics Brad Edwards has named Kim English as the 11th head coach in the history of the Patriot men’s basketball program.

An outstanding basketball mind with an impeccable pedigree as a player, coach and leader, English comes to Fairfax from the University of Tennessee, where he most recently served as an assistant coach under former Mason bench boss Rick Barnes.

Kim English is a rising star in the college basketball world,” Edwards said. “He is a tremendous communicator, tireless worker and a natural leader. He develops a unique rapport with his players, which fuels their development and enriches their overall experience as student-athletes. His success at the highest levels of the game, elite recruiting ability and knowledge of the DMV area will provide our program with an outstanding foundation to establish a standard of competitive excellence in the Atlantic 10 and at the national level.”

An All-Big 12 selection as a player at the University of Missouri, the Baltimore native was selected in the second round (44th overall) of the NBA Draft and played for the Detroit Pistons before finishing his professional career within the international ranks.

“I am so incredibly grateful and honored to accept the position of head coach at George Mason University,” English said. “I would like to thank President Dr. Gregory Washington, Director of Athletics Brad Edwards and the entire search committee for their time and effort through this entire process. I really enjoyed everyone’s ‘Why George Mason?’ stories. It reaffirmed what I already knew – that the leadership at Mason is in great alignment and the commitment to our students and student-athletes is at the forefront of everyone’s ‘Why.’ The passion that the Mason Family has for this place is something of which I’m so excited to be a part.”

English has honed his coaching craft while learning under some of the finest mentors in the college game, including Barnes, Tad Boyle and Frank Haith.

“I’m excited to get to know our former players, athletic staff, faculty, alumni and all of Mason Nation,” English said. “I also am delighted for everyone to meet my two daughters, Celine and Ari, my parents and the rest of my family just up the road in Baltimore. I’m especially looking forward to meeting and forming bonds with our current and incoming student-athletes. I can’t wait to get on the court with you and get started. The work has already begun to assert George Mason Basketball’s rightful place in the national landscape, consistently competing for Atlantic 10 Championships and securing bids into the NCAA Tournament.”

This past season, English helped guide the Vols to a top-25 ranking and a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, marking the program’s third-straight appearance in the Big Dance. English recruited and developed star freshmen Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer, who garnered SEC All-Freshman Team accolades and are projected as top-20 prospects in the 2021 NBA Draft.

What’s more, English played a significant role in developing Tennessee into a top-5 KenPom defensive team nationally, marking a substantial improvement after the Volunteers ranked 62nd in the category in 2019-20.

In his debut season with the Barnes and the Volunteers in 2019-20, English helped junior forwards John Fulkerson and Yves Pons experience breakout campaigns. Fulkerson was named to the coaches’ All-SEC team after leading Tennessee in scoring and rebounding and posting the fourth-best single-season field-goal percentage in program history (.612). Pons—who stands 6-6—led the SEC in blocks with a school-record-tying 73 and became the first Vol ever named SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Pons was an SEC All-Defensive Team pick for the second-straight season in 2020-21.

Fulkerson (+10.6 ppg) and Pons (+8.6 ppg) both saw their scoring averages soar after English joined UT’s staff, and in May of 2020, English was listed on ESPN’s “40 Under 40” listing of rising stars in college basketball coaching.

“George Mason basketball holds a rich tradition and has produced so many iconic moments in our university’s history,” said George Mason University President, Dr. Gregory Washington. “We are excited today to welcome Kim English, the dynamic new leader of our men’s basketball program. Kim will be an outstanding ambassador for our University. He possesses the desire and understanding of what is needed to elevate George Mason basketball back to national prominence.” 

Prior to his hiring at Tennessee, English spent two seasons as an assistant coach on Tad Boyle’s staff at Colorado. During that time, the Buffaloes posted back-to-back winning seasons, going 40-28. Colorado reached the quarterfinals of the 2019 NIT and finished with the third-most wins in program history (23).

In 2018-19, English helped Tyler Bey and McKinley Wright IV earn first-team All-Pac-12 honors. Bey also was named Pac-12 Most Improved Player after leading the Buffaloes with 13.6 points and 9.9 rebounds and logging 17 double-doubles. In English’s first season at Colorado, he coached All-Pac-12 honoree George King, who was selected by the Phoenix Suns in the 2018 NBA Draft.

As a senior this season, McKinley Wright IV garnered AP All-America honorable mention and All-Pac 12 accolades and put together a 12-point, 13-assist performance in the team’s NCAA win over Georgetown.

In May 2018, the NABC included English on its 2017-18 Under Armour “30 Under 30” list, which honored up-and-coming young collegiate coaches. He was one of only five selections from “Power Five” programs.

From 2015-17, English worked for two years under Frank Haith at Tulsa—earning a promotion to assistant coach after one season as director of player development. During that time, he helped mentor a pair of All-American Athletic Conference selections, and the Golden Hurricane earned a bid to the 2016 NCAA Tournament.

A four-year letterman under coaches Mike Anderson and Haith at Missouri from 2008-12, English scored more than 1,500 points and averaged 11.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game for the Tigers. He earned third-team All-Big 12 honors in 2010 and 2012, and Missouri won 107 games during his four-year career, making him and two teammates the winningest players in program history.

The Tigers won a school-record 31 games while making a run to the 2009 Elite Eight in English’s freshman campaign.

He averaged a career-best 14.5 points as a senior in 2011-12 and ranked fifth in the Big 12 with 78 3-point makes, while leading Missouri to 30 wins, one of two Big 12 Tournament titles during his career and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. He was named Most Outstanding Player of the 2012 Big 12 Tournament after averaging 23.0 points and shooting 78 percent during the Tigers’ championship run.

The Pistons selected English with the aforementioned 44th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, and he appeared in 41 games during the 2012-13 season.

He then spent two years playing professionally overseas and had a brief stint with the Chicago Bulls in 2014.

A native of Baltimore, Maryland, English attended Randallstown High School and earned Baltimore Sun All-Metro honors, before playing his postgrad year at Notre Dame Prep.

He earned his degree in general studies from Missouri in 2012.

English has two daughters, Celine and Ari.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT KIM ENGLISH
Kim English is a grand slam hire for George Mason. He’s the total package. From the day he joined our staff at Tennessee, he made an immediate impact on our program. He has a unique gift for connecting with people and forming genuine relationships. I’m particularly proud that he gets the opportunity to begin his head coaching career at the special place that also gave me my first big opportunity. I know he’ll lead the Patriots to great success.” – Rick Barnes – Head Coach, University of Tennessee

“Simply put, Kim English is the complete package as a Division I basketball coach. He can recruit, he can teach and he can motivate. He is fantastic at player development. He relates well with his players, fellow coaches and alumni. By the way, he can flat out coach. George Mason did not make a home run hire – they hit a grand slam.” – Tad Boyle – Head Coach, University of Colorado

“George Mason is getting a star in Kim English. I had the opportunity to coach Kim at Mizzou his senior year where he lead us to 30 wins and a Big 12 Championship. He was an awesome teammate and a tremendous leader. While Kim was playing professionally, he would watch our games at Mizzou and Tulsa and send me scouting reports of our next opponent. I was so impressed with his passion at the time that when he was finished playing, I hired him right away. His impact was instant. He will be special for George Mason.” – Frank Haith – Head Coach, University of Tulsa

“I am so excited to hear that Kim will be the new head coach at George Mason. Watching him develop at Towson Catholic from a marginal DI player to a guy who eventually got drafted speaks to his innate drive and motivation was always on full display. He has an immense passion and love for the game. Most importantly he’s a really good guy who understands that your success isn’t solely defined by wins and losses; he will do things the right way.” – Tim Connelly – President of Basketball Operations, Denver Nuggets

“Kim was 25 and I called his agent – about him becoming a coach with the Sixers. It was clear even then that he had what it takes. George Mason is getting a good one.” – Sam Hinkie – Former General Manager, Philadelphia 76ers

“Kim has always been like a big brother to me. Before he was even my coach I looked up to him as a player when he played at Mizzou and in the NBA. He coached me at Tulsa and helped me with my pre-draft for the NBA while finishing school. He always wanted the best for me and helped me reach the NBA. I can legit say we have a relationship that’s bigger than just player/coach. He builds relationships with everyone he comes in contact with. He cares for his players and it’s not only for the time he’s coaching you – it’s a lifetime relationship and bond. He brings the best out in players because they trust him. He is going to be a great head coach.” – Shaq Harrison, Guard, Utah Jazz

“George Mason couldn’t have made a better hire than Coach English. Having him as a coach made my college experience some of the best time of my life. It’s one thing to have someone who knows so much about the game of basketball but when you add the fact that he cares about his players outside of basketball, that’s rare to find. He’s going to bring the best out in his players each and every day and no matter what time of the day it is, if you want to get extra work in, he’s picking up the phone and coming in to work with you. I’m so glad we’ve crossed paths. He’s a high character, enthusiastic, loving dude and you can’t ask for much more in a coach! Nobody is more deserving than Coach English. I have all the confidence in the world he’s going to have George Mason dancing real soon!” – McKinley Wright IV, 3-time All-Pac 12 selection and Cousy Award Finalist, University of Colorado 

“Coach English always believed in us and made sure that us players were being the best version of ourselves. He was always there for me and always showed he truly cared. Coach English made me feel way more comfortable going into games with the skills we worked on, and it worked every time (I played my best when I worked with him consistently). When you have someone who shows you their love for you and the game of basketball as much as he does, it brings you to great places of confidence. I was extremely grateful to have had him as a coach. If it wasn’t for Coach English, I really don’t think I’d be where I’m at today.” – Tyler Bey, Forward, Dallas Mavericks

COURTESY GEORGE MASON ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

RELATED ARTICLES