By Adam Gore/ICC Sports Information Department
TUPELO – Itawamba Community College officially announced former Tupelo High School men’s basketball coach Grant Pate as the Indians’ next head basketball coach at a press conference on Tuesday.
“This is an exciting day for ICC athletics,” said ICC Athletics Director Carrie Ball-Williamson. “Coach Pate has been very successful as the Tupelo High School boys’ basketball coach, and we are very excited to have Coach Pate be a part of the ICC family.”
Pate, 44, took over as head coach of the Golden Wave in 2008 and guided the 2011-12 team to a 26-9 record and their first trip to MHSAA State Tournament since 1999 where they advanced to the Class 6A championship game.
“I feel real blessed and excited about being the next men’s basketball coach at ICC,” Pate said as he put on his red ICC cap. “I want to thank everyone that was involved because there is so much I owe to so many people to be here where I am today.”
He finished with an overall record of 92-31 in four seasons as head coach of the Golden Wave.
“I’m grateful to Tupelo High School,” said Pate. “I’m thankful for them giving me the opportunity to be a head coach. We couldn’t have been able to achieve what we did if it wasn’t for so many people at Tupelo working as a team and that’s what I’ve sense with ICC that we are a team and we are a family.”
Pate spent seven seasons with the University of Mississippi basketball program as an administrative assistant and Coordinator of Basketball Operations before being named an assistant coach by former head coach Rod Barnes in 2005.
Prior to his time at Ole Miss, Pate was an assistant coach at Ouachita Baptist in Arkansas where he helped direct the Tigers to NAIA Division I postseason play for three-straight seasons (1995, 96, 97) and served two seasons (1992-94) as an assistant coach at Arkansas-Monticello where he guided the Runnin’ Weevils to back-to-back NAIA postseason appearances (93, 94).
After graduating Ole Miss in 1990, Pate was a graduate assistant coach at the University of West Alabama after spending three seasons with the Rebels’ basketball program. He served as a student assistant on the 1989 team that received a bid to the NIT and the 1990 squad that advanced to the final of the SEC Tournament.
“We’re so proud of Grant Pate,” said ICC President Dr. David C. Cole. “We’ve known him and seen him for a number of years. Grant is just an outstanding human being, a fine person and he’s a great coach too.”
“He has an outstanding background in college basketball. He brings his experience in college basketball along with his ties in the ICC district. With those attributes, he’s going to be a natural fit for the ICC family and we’re excited about it.”
Pate plans to meet with the freshmen from last year’s squad that advanced to the quarterfinals of the MACJC state tournament and also has plans to announce his assistant coach in the coming weeks.
“Coach (Marty) Cooper has done an outstanding job laying a strong foundation at ICC, and we are looking forward to building on everything he has been able to accomplish throughout his time as head coach,” said Pate.
Pate and his wife Melissa have two daughters, Katherine and Emily.
For more information on ICC basketball and the eight other intercollegiate athletic programs visit the college website at www.iccms.edu.
For more on this story read Wednesday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.