By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University has hired Chris Horton as an assistant men's basketball coach. Horton plans to begin working at Willamette on Aug. 20. He will help men's basketball Head Coach Kip Ioane as the Bearcats prepare for the 2019-20 season.
Horton most recently was the assistant basketball coach in charge of skill development for the 2018-19 season at Dean College (Mass.), which competes in NCAA Division III and the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC). Willamette also is a member of NCAA Division III, with the Bearcats competing in the Northwest Conference (NWC).
"I was lucky," Horton said about his new job. "I saw a posting for the job online, but it wasn't until I did research on the program that I fell in love with the possibility of coaching at Willamette. The more I learned about Coach Kip and the program's dedication to building Teams of Men, the more I loved the idea of coaching and growing as a leader and a person at Willamette. I continued to be blown away during the interview process as I was able to have personal interactions with Coach Kip, the men's and women's basketball staff, and the players. By the end of the process, there was no doubt that this is where I wanted to be!"
While coaching at Dean this past season, Horton helped the men's basketball team earn a 17-9 overall record. He was actively involved in recruiting as well as helping complete the day-to-day tasks associated with the team. He focused part of his work on skill development, which contributed to two Dean players earning All-NECC honors. His skill development efforts were directed at all 18 players on the team, as he worked to improve the strengths and weaknesses of each player, while building toward team goals within the team's offensive system.
Horton was the head junior high boys' basketball coach at American Heritage Schools in 2017-18 in Plantation, Florida. He was in charge of the overall efforts to lead a travel team and an intramural team that gave American Heritage a total of 35 student-athletes. Horton and two other coaches worked with the squads. He led American Heritage to a District Runner-up finish in 2018, one year after the team missed the playoffs.
Since January of 2015, Horton has been the director of basketball operations and a coach for Taylored Athletes, Inc., which organizes 26 basketball teams throughout Florida. He also coached Taylored Athletes' traveling basketball teams for third grade through 12th grade student-athletes. Starting in August of 2016, Horton also has served as the assistant state (Florida) and national basketball director for the United States Specialty Sports Association. He managed the daily operations of the national organization that served 47 states and over 10,000 teams with more than 120,000 athletes. He was an important liaison for coaches and more than 250 tournament directors.
In 2015-16, Horton was the general manager of the Texas Sky Riders, a professional basketball team in the American Basketball Association. With the Sky Riders, he was in charge of the coaches, business staff and other team workers, while serving as a link between ownership and the team's players.
"Coach Horton and I connected immediately on our shared belief of teaching life skills via the game of basketball," Ioane said. "I think his genuine love of the game, coupled with a tireless work ethic to improve himself as a coach, will blend fantastically with our players and our other staff members."
Horton looks forward to the start of the 2019-20 season. He brings the Bearcats a variety of skills and experiences related to basketball and managing a team. He also has a Bachelor of Science in Business Management degree from the University of Florida with a minor in Entrepreneurship, which he received in December of 2012.
"My biggest strengths are player skill development and relationship building," Horton said. "I love being able to get on the court with players and having the chance to challenge and teach athletes in a way that helps them improve their skills. I've been fortunate enough to be a skills trainer for many different types of athletes at all levels, from youth to NBA and overseas pros. More important than just helping players dribble and shoot better, I love building relationships. I try to spend a lot of time listening so I am better able to understand, help, and build a relationship with each athlete. Those personal relationships last far longer than any single season or career."
While Horton's experiences cover a wide range of situations, topics, and projects, he is looking forward the specifics of working with the Bearcats.
"I am so blessed and thankful to be a member of Bearcat Hoop," Horton commented. "Like any coach, I'm excited to get on the court with our guys, help them improve, and build relationships. At Willamette, though, I might be even more excited for my off-the-court journey as a leader and a person! The way Coach Ioane and assistant coaches Kevin MacRae, and Cameron McCormick approach problems and constantly seek to innovate and improve is unlike anything that I've seen. I can't wait to be in those offices strategizing and tackling problems with them. Moreover, I'm so excited to be fully immersed in our culture of building positive men, which will help shape the man I become for the rest of my basketball and non-basketball life."