Kevin Gant returns

USI’s new assistant men’s basketball coach will look familiar to longtime Eagles fans: Kevin Gant (an announcement will be forthcoming over the next couple of weeks, after USI’s personnel department finishes the paperwork). He was the team’s point guard during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, leading USI in assists both years. In fact, nobody has passed out as many assists in a single season as Gant since he was on the team — 141 in ’09-10, 148 in ’10-11. And nobody has had the assist average he had, either: 5.2 assists per game in ’09-10, 4.9 in ’10-11.

How this will translate into being an assistant coach, well, we’ll have to wait and see, although he did work briefly as a USI student/graduate assistant after he used up his eligibilty. Gant didn’t talk much when he played; he just did his job. He led with his actions rather than his mouth. But I got the impression he got his points across in his own quiet way. Running drills during practice will get him to open up. And his knowledge of the game and how to run the point, he’ll be able to talk about that. Anecdote can be a great illustration. What he went through I’m certain he’ll be able to convey vividly.

Coach Rodney Watson doesn’t hire loud assistants. Some people who follow USI don’t like that. But what matters are the results. The Eagles haven’t done well in the NCAA Tournament since Watson arrived, reaching the second round only once, and that’s been a consistent sore point with many USI fans. A new assistant coach will be just one of several new cogs in the machine this season, and that machine will be expected to perform much better than it has. Maybe Kevin Gant, in his own way, will make a difference.

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