Craig Fortier, Craig Ehlo and Shantay Legans bring winning ways to Eastern Basketball
Jim Hayford is hoping winning coaches develop winning players on the court.
The new Eastern Washington University head men's basketball coach announced on Tuesday (April 20) that Craig Fortier, Craig Ehlo and Shantay Legans have been hired as his assistant coaches.
Hired as EWU's associate head coach, Fortier spent the past four seasons as Hayford's lead assistant at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash. During Fortier's four years at Whitworth, the Pirates won 98 of 116 games for a winning rate of 84.5 percent. In the 2010-11 season, the Pirates finished 28-2 and advanced to the NCAA Division III Sectional Final (Elite Eight) for the first time in school history. At the same time, his wife Lisa was on the coaching staff for the Gonzaga women's team, which advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division I Tournament and finished 31-5.
Ehlo brings to Eastern 14 years of experience as a player in the National Basketball Association -- including playoff appearances in 10 of those seasons. Ehlo has also spent three seasons as a high school basketball head coach and six years working with one of the nation's most esteemed camp programs, the Nike Skills Academy, led by such current NBA superstars as LeBron James, Steve Nash and Vince Carter.
The lone holdover from Eastern's previous coaching staff is Shantay Legans, who enters his third season as an EWU assistant coach. As a NCAA Division I player at California and Fresno State, he was a part of teams that won 75 of 125 NCAA Division I games, including a pair of 20-victory seasons and two NCAA Tournament berths.
"I think we have a fantastic staff in place to try and take our program to the next level," said Hayford. "Every game we won the last four years at Whitworth we did with Craig Fortier, so that's a big start there. Obviously, Craig Ehlo played in some legendary playoff games. And Shantay was a part of successful programs at both Cal and Fresno State. So that's something we want to do more of around here at Eastern -- win basketball games."
Because Eastern had no seniors on its 2010-11 season, Hayford and his staff can set their sights on next year's recruiting class. The early letter of intent signing date for incoming players for the 2011-12 school year is Nov. 9, followed by the spring signing date of April 11, 2012.
"We need to get out on the road," he said. "We need to go where players are, we need to find players, we need to evaluate players. We need to keep working on our relationships with coaches and work on signing a great recruiting class this fall and the following spring. If it's a big man, we're going to know about him because we have to recruit some size in our next recruiting class."
One-half of a husband-wife coaching duo that helped both their teams to "Elite Eight" national tournament appearances in the 2010-11 season, Craig Fortier enters his first season as associate head coach on the EWU coaching staff.
Fortier spent the past four seasons as an assistant to new Eastern head coach Jim Hayford at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash. In the 2010-11 season, the Pirates finished 28-2 and advanced to the NCAA Division III Sectional Final (Elite Eight) for the first time in school history.
At the same time, his wife Lisa was on the coaching staff for the Gonzaga women's team, which advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division I Tournament and finished 31-5. She concluded her fourth season coaching for the Bulldogs, who had back-to-back 14-0 seasons in the West Coast Conference.
During Craig's four years at Whitworth, the Pirates won 98 of 116 games for a winning rate of 84.5 percent. All four seasons the Pirates advanced to the national tournament and won the Northwest Conference Tournament title.
"I've had the pleasure of having Craig as my lead assistant the last four years at Whitworth," said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. "He was previously at Colorado State and Gonzaga, so he brings NCAA Division I experience to us. He's an outstanding recruiter and understands everything I want to do in terms of attention to detail and program administration. He's extremely skilled in opponent preparation and has been on coaching staffs that have developed professional basketball players. I think he's going to make a great lead assistant for us."
Fortier came to Whitworth from Colorado State University, where he served as an administrative assistant for the men's basketball team. Prior to his time at CSU, Fortier was a graduate assistant for Gonzaga University for two seasons, as he completed his master's degree in sport and athletic administration.
Fortier was also an assistant coach at his alma mater, Cal State-Monterey Bay, in the 2003-04 season. He was the most inspirational player as a senior for the Otters before graduating from the school in 2003.
Whitworth spent three weeks in the 2010-11 season ranked No. 1 in the D3hoops.com NCAA Division III rankings, including the top ranking at the end of the regular season. The Pirates set a school record for victories and winning percentage in finishing 28-2 (.933), and ended the season ranked fifth nationally after losing at Wooster 76-66 on March 12, 2011. Whitworth advanced to the NCAA Division III Sectional Final (Elite Eight) for the first time in school history, while making its fifth-straight NCAA DIII Tournament appearance. The Pirates also claimed their fifth-straight NWC Tournament title.
In 2009-10, Whitworth put together a school-record 25-game winning streak and finished unbeaten in the Northwest Conference (16-0) en route to a final record of 26-3. The Pirates finished the season ranked seventh in the D3hoops.com poll.
In 2008-09, Whitworth finished 23-6 and was the runner-up in the NWC standings. The Pirates then made their fourth national tournament appearance by virtue of winning the NWC Tournament championship game.
In Fortier's first season at Whitworth in 2007-08, the Pirates won the Northwest Conference title and advanced to the Sectional Semifinals (third round) of the NCAA Division III Tournament. Whitworth finished 21-7 overall.
Craig and Lisa, whose son Marcus was born in 2010, attended Cal State-Monterey Bay together and were married in 2006. The former Lisa Mispley served as the coordinator of basketball operations at Gonzaga for two seasons from 2004-06 and spent the 2006-07 season at the University of Northern Colorado, while Craig was at nearby CSU. At CSUMB, she earned honorable mention All Cal-Pac Conference honors as a junior and was an NAIA Academic All-American in 2003. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in human communications. She earned her master's degree in sport and athletic administration from Gonzaga in 2004.
Craig Ehlo begins his first season as an assistant coach at the collegiate level, but he has been involved at all levels of basketball his entire life, including 14 seasons as a player in the National Basketball Association.
As a result, Eastern head coach Jim Hayford sees him as a vital cog not only for on-the-floor coaching, but in recruiting as well.
"Craig will excel in the area of individual player development," said Hayford. "That's a passion of his and something he will do well. Everybody on the staff is responsible for recruiting as well, including Craig. When you are recruiting the caliber of player we want to recruit at Eastern, you are talking about players who want to play professional basketball. So to have somebody on our staff who was a NBA veteran gives us quite a compelling argument why players would want our staff coaching them at Eastern."
Ehlo settled in Spokane, Wash., after leaving the NBA following the 1996-97 season. He has already been selected to the Washington State University Hall of Fame (2009) and the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame (1996), and was one of 10 inaugural basketball inductees into the Pacific-10 Conference Hall of Honor (2002). In addition, he was one of 12 inaugural inductees into the Lubbock Independent School District Athletics Hall of Honor (2010) and had his jersey retired by Monterey High School in Lubbock, Texas (Dec. 21, 1995).
After his retirement from the NBA, Ehlo worked extensively as a television analyst, including full schedules for the Seattle SuperSonics and Gonzaga. He has also worked on broadcasts for his alma mater, Washington State University, as well as EWU.
He spent three seasons as head coach at Rogers High School in Spokane, Wash., from 1998-2001. Ehlo also spent six years coaching in one of the nation's most esteemed camp programs, the Nike Skills Academy. Ehlo coached high school players while working alongside such current NBA superstars as LeBron James, Steve Nash, Vince Carter, Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Deron Williams. It originally took place in Beaverton, Ore., but is now a traveling camp.
A native of Lubbock, Ehlo played at Odessa Junior College in Texas where he earned honorable mention All-America honors as a sophomore, after leading the Wranglers to a 26-9 record. Ehlo then concluded his collegiate playing career at WSU in Pullman, Wash., and eventually returned to Washington State to earn his bachelor's degree in 1999.
He helped lead the 1982-83 Cougars to a 22-6 record and the second round of the NCAA Tournament where they lost to Virginia and Ehlo's future NBA teammate, Ralph Sampson. That came after Ehlo scored 18 points in a first-round victory over Weber State of the Big Sky Conference, representing WSU's first postseason win since 1941. Picked to finish fifth in the Pacific-10 Conference, WSU won seven of its last eight games of the regular season and finished 14-4 in the league and a perfect 14-0 at home at Friel Court.
He was taken in the third round of the 1983 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets. He played 14 NBA seasons with four teams, amassing respectable career totals of 7,492 points (8.6 per game), 2,456 assists (2.8) and 3,139 rebounds (3.6). He played in 873 career games, starting 321, and helped lead his teams to the NBA Playoffs in 10 of his 14 seasons in the league.
Ehlo played on the 1985-86 Houston Rockets team that advanced to the NBA Finals, losing the series 4–2 to the Boston Celtics. He played three total seasons in Houston.
He spent the prime of his career with Cleveland, where he tallied 5,130 points, 1,803 assists, and 2,267 rebounds in seven seasons (1986–1993). He averaged in double figures in scoring for five seasons from 1989-90 to 1993-94, with career-best averages of 13.6 points, 4.6 assists and 5.4 rebounds coming in the '89-90 campaign. That Rockets team finished 42-40 and lost 3-2 to Philadelphia in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
One season earlier, he was guarding Chicago Bulls Hall of Famer Michael Jordan on May 7, 1989, when Jordan sank his legendary series-clinching jumper in Cleveland in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
Ehlo spent three seasons (1993-96) with the Atlanta Hawks, and then signed with the Seattle SuperSonics for the 1996-97 season.
Ehlo was born Aug. 11, 1961, in Lubbock, Texas. His wife, Jani, is also a graduate of WSU. They have three children -- Erica, 22, Austin, 20, and Gavin, 15.
Fresno State '04
Shantay Legans, a former point guard for winning basketball programs in high school and college, enters his third season as an assistant basketball coach for the Eagles.
"Having Shantay back is a huge plus," said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. "He's very loved by the players, and is known all through West Coast basketball circles because of his own playing career. He's dialed-in to the AAU circuit and knows high school and junior college coaches throughout the region.
Legans came to Eastern after serving as an assistant coach for two seasons at Laguna Blanca High School in Santa Barbara, Calif. Previously, he was a student assistant coach for Ray Lopes at Fresno State for two seasons before embarking upon a more than three-year career playing professional basketball in Europe. Legans also has experience coaching various AAU teams in California and serving as a personal trainer.
He played at California for three seasons from 1999-2002, helping lead the Golden Bears to a collective record of 61-35 (.635). He then spent his senior season (2003-04) at Fresno State, which finished with a 14-15 record overall and a 10-8 mark in the Western Athletic Conference. He averaged 15.0 points and 5.6 assists while averaging more than 38 minutes per game in his final collegiate season. He was team captain at Fresno State and received his bachelor's degree in ethnic studies in 2004.
Formerly from Goleta, Calif., and Dos Pueblos High School, Legans averaged 4.4 assists, 10.4 points and 1.4 steals per game during his 124-game collegiate career, making 83.9 percent of his free throws, 40.2 percent of his field goals and 36.6 percent of his three-point shots. His high school team advanced to the CIF Playoffs each of his four seasons on the squad.
While at Dos Pueblos High School, he was named league MVP and Player of the Year for Santa Barbara County. He also earned All-California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) honors, and was rated as the seventh-best point guard in the country by Recruiting USA and the No. 19 point guard by PrepStar.
Legans was born July 30, 1981, in Ventura, Calif. His mother's name is Susan Legans and he has two brothers, Dominic and Calisto Plurde, and one sister, Lisa Legans.