Former Zag returns to GU after spending two seasons at Illinois
SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga Athletic Director Mike Roth and men’s basketball Head Coach Mark Few announced the hiring of Stephen Gentry as an assistant coach on the Zags’ coaching staff.
Gentry was most recently an assistant coach at Illinois. The former Gonzaga player and Illinois assistant basketball coach, joins GU effective immediately.
“It is great to have Stephen back in the program,” Few said. “He knows the program having played and coached here previously, but has also garnered some other tremendous coaching experiences most recently doing a great job helping Illinois back to national prominence.”
“I’m humbled and honored to return to Gonzaga and serve a program that has meant so much to me,” Gentry said. “Gonzaga is a special place and one of the elite programs in all of college basketball. I look forward to rejoining the Zag family.”
At Illinois the past two seasons, Gentry oversaw schematic changes on offense and defense that led to increased winning. Prior to his arrival at Illinois, the Illini had a combined 39 percent win percentage in 2017-18 and 2018-19. While at Illinois, Gentry and the Illini had a 79 percent win percentage. Illinois’ improvement of plus-9 wins from the 18-19 to the 19-20 season, Gentry’s first on staff, was the largest win improvement in the country.
Gentry was the offensive coordinator for one of the country’s most prolific offenses this past season at Illinois. The Illini had a Top-10 offense in efficiency (8th in KenPom) and averaged over 80 points per game, which was the fifth highest amongst high major programs. He oversaw the development of a guard position group that included First Team All-American and Bob Cousy Award Winner Ayo Dosunmu and Big 10 Sixth Man of the Year winner Andre Curbelo.
During his time at Illinois, the Illini led the Big 10 in combined wins the last two seasons, winning 72 percent of their league games. Illinois posted back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 2013-14, and enjoyed two-straight NCAA tournament berths. Illinois earned a one-seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, which was a first for the program since 2005. The Illini won the 2021 Big 10 Tournament, and finished No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll behind Gonzaga.
Gentry played four seasons at Gonzaga for Coach Few, lettering three times as a guard. During Gentry’s four years, the Zags put together a 107-20 record, winning four straight West Coast Conference titles. Gonzaga advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 2006 and made the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament three other times in his career.
Gentry was Gonzaga’s Director of Operations in 2017-18 and 2018-19. The Bulldogs had a stellar 65-9 record over Gentry’s two seasons, winning back-to-back West Coast Conference titles and twice advancing to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
Gonzaga went 32-5 in 2018, winning both the West Coast regular season and tournament championship, and made an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance. The 2019 Bulldogs, meanwhile, were 33-4 overall and a perfect 16-0 en route to the WCC regular season title. Gonzaga won the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, held the No. 1 ranking in the AP poll for a total of five weeks, and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, advancing to the Elite Eight.
Prior to being on the GU staff, Gentry was at Stephen F. Austin for three years and Oklahoma State for one. Gentry’s four seasons with Underwood saw their teams go a combined 109-27, including three conference championships and four NCAA Tournaments.
Prior to SFA, Gentry spent six seasons at Texas A&M, including his final two as the Director of Basketball Operations under head coach Billy Kennedy. Previously he worked for four years as the video coordinator under former Aggie, and now Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon.
Gentry was a part of one of the most successful eras in Aggie basketball and in his six seasons helped the program win 129 games, advance to four NCAA Tournaments and develop three future NBA draft picks.
Gentry came to A&M after one year as a video intern for the NBA’s Miami Heat and Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley. The Heat won the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference in Gentry’s season with the franchise.
Gentry is married to the former Leah Wahlgren, who played college basketball at Oklahoma State. They have a daughter, Svea, and son, Gunnar.
COURTESY GONZAGA ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS