ALBANY — Dwayne Killings’ reputation in the coaching world is that he’s a top-notch recruiter.
His first recruit at UAlbany demonstrated that.
At his introductory press conference Thursday as the new head coach of the UAlbany men’s basketball program, Killings confirmed his coaching staff will include Hamlet Tibbs — an Albany native and Troy High School graduate who spent the last seven seasons on the staff at America East Conference rival Vermont.
“When I got the job,” Killings said “one of the first things I said to [athletic director Mark Benson] was we’re going after [Tibbs] because if we’re going to try to win this league, I want to find one of the guys that’s inspiring winning with one of the better programs inside of our league — and he jumped at the opportunity.”
Tibbs was at Thursday’s event, as was Matt Griffin who Killings said will also join the team’s coaching staff. Matt Griffin — the son of former Siena head coach John Griffin — played at Boston University, where Killings was an assistant for a year, and has been the head coach at Roman Catholic High School of Philadelphia. Raheem Mapp, currently the director of men’s basketball operations at Temple, is also expected to join UAlbany’s coaching staff, per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation.
Tibbs has spent the last seven seasons trying to figure out how to defeat UAlbany. He said he was excited to head back home when offered the opportunity.
“In talking with Dwayne, his vision for the program, his vision for me — it all made total sense,” Tibbs said.
Killings and Tibbs met when Killings was an assistant coach at Temple and Tibbs was a high school assistant coach at Albany Academy. Tibbs’ team attended a team camp at Temple.
“And we’ve been friends ever since,” said Tibbs, whose coaching background also includes work with the Albany City Rocks.
Tibbs said the chance to head home appealed to him, both personally and professionally.
“This is a really good opportunity for me to have an impact in the community, in the city of Albany, where I grew up,” said Tibbs, who said he moved from Albany to Troy when he was 11 years old. “I want to be able to have an impact in the community, and help younger kids growing up see they can be successful. I made it out, so they can make it out.”
Since taking the job at UAlbany, Tibbs said he’d received support from players he coached at Vermont — and an offer from one of them, former America East Defensive Player of the Year Dre Wills, to help clean out Tibbs’ closet of some of its Catamounts-themed clothing.
“He was calling to congratulate me, but he was really calling to try to get all my Vermont gear,” Tibbs, laughing, said.
Tibbs said it had “been a wild 48 hours” in leading up to Thursday’s press conference.
“But,” Tibbs said, “I’m just excited and ready to go.”