For the rebuilding process at Mississippi State to be successful, Ben Howland said his first priority was to assemble what he described as a “top-notch” coaching staff.
Howland, who was introduced as Mississippi State’s 20th head coach on Tuesday, did just that with the hiring of George Brooks, Ernie Zeigler and Korey McCray.
Brooks returns for this third stint at MSU after previously serving under Rick Stansbury and. He’s spent the last five years on the Bulldogs’ sidelines after spending 11 years as the head coach at Meridian Community College, where more than 20 of his players signed with NCAA programs, while Jamario Moon and Ronald Murray went on to play in the NBA.
In 1996, he was a student-assistant coach for the MSU team that advanced to the Final Four.
“I am so excited for this opportunity,” said Brooks, who played at MSU under Richard Williams from 1992-94. “It’s great that I get to stay with my Mississippi State family. I look forward to working for one of the most well-respected coaches in America and I’m excited about the vision he has for Mississippi State basketball.”
Both McCray and Zeigler were on Howland’s staff at UCLA.
Zeigler comes to Mississippi State after spending the past two years as an assistant at the University of Detroit Mercy. Before
his time at Detroit, he was the head coach at Central Michigan for six years.
During that time, he led the Chippewas to two Mid-American Conference West Division titles, while having eight All-MAC selections, including six that went on to play professionally.
Zeigler was an assistant with Howland at both Pittsburgh and UCLA.
While at Pitt in 2002, the Panthers won a school-record 29 games while the 2003 squad captured the Big East Tournament crown.
He then joined Howland at UCLA for three seasons. In 2006, the Bruins advanced to the NCAA title game, where they lost to Florida after winning both the Pac-10 regular-season and tournament titles.
“I am very excited to be back with one of the top coaches in the country in,” Zeigler said. “He’s been a mentor as well as a friend. More than anything, he’s been a great person to both myself and my family. Having the opportunity to help him for a third time pursue and compete at the highest level of college basketball is very intriguing to me. I’m looking forward to this privilege of being a Mississippi State Bulldog.”
Zeigler played collegiately at Schoolcraft College (Livonia, Mich.) from 1984-86, Armstrong Atlantic State University (Savannah, Ga.) from 1986-87 and Northwood University (Midland, Mich.) from 1987-88.
McCray spent two years on Howland’s staff at UCLA in 2012 and 2013, where he helped the Bruins land the No. 1-ranked recruiting class in 2012 and win the 2013 Pac-12 regular-season championship.
In 2013-14, he was on Johnny Jones’ staff at LSU.
Before being hired at UCLA by Howland, McCray worked as a skill development trainer based in Atlanta. In that capacity, he worked with and created tailor-made offseason training programs for NBA talents such as Dwight Howard, John Wall, Anthony Morrow, Jarrett Jack, Jarvis Hayes, Von Wafer, Mario West and Damien Wilkins, among others.
McCray has also spent time as an assistant at Mercer University, his alma mater, for the 2007-08 campaign and Chipola Junior college in 2004-05. His lone season at Chipola JC saw the team advance to the semifinals of the National Junior College Championships.
“I am excited about being here at Mississippi State, and I am excited about the new opportunity to work with Coach Howland again,” McCray said. “I’m looking forward to doing great things here and winning. I know we will do historical things here at Mississippi State.”
McCray hails from Decatur, Ga. He played four seasons (1997-2001) at Mercer, and served as a team captain his final two years with the Bears.
(From MSU Media Relations)