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Lenoir-Rhyne Hires Owen to Lead Men’s Basketball Program

Brent Owen has been named the 20th men’s basketball head coach of Lenoir-Rhyne University, Vice President for Athletics Kim Pate announced. Owen comes to Hickory from Eastern New Mexico University where he served as the men’s basketball coach since May 2020. This year, ENMU finished with a 22-9 record, the most successful season in more than three decades.

In only his third season of competition at ENMU, Owen led the program to a Lone Star Conference Tournament Championship for the first time in 31 years and the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 20 years. Competing in one of the premier conferences across Division II, the Greyhounds not only recorded their most conference wins in school history, but also led the Lone Star Conference in seven statistical categories, including field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage, free throws made, assists, rebounds, and blocks.

The Greyhounds also ranked in the top 20 in the nation in nine different statistical categories, including third in three-point percentage, fifth in fast break points, ninth in free throws made, and fourteenth in rebounds per game. They also broke the school record for points and assists, as well as conference wins in back-to-back seasons.

“When we embarked on this search, we were looking for a proven leader and coach who would inspire an exciting and bold vision for the future of our men’s basketball program,” said Pate. “Brent Owen is a program builder and leader of men. He has an impressive pedigree, having coached at the University of Southern Indiana, a top perennial championship contender in Division II. Brent is a relentless worker who cares deeply for his players and has an incredible acumen for basketball. He is a winner and is passionate about making an impact on young men’s lives.”

When Owen took over the ranks at ENMU, he initiated a full rebuild for the program that included recruiting the LSC Freshman of the Year in the 2021-22 season. In his second year, Owen led the program to a 17-win season in 2022-23, the most victories the program had seen in 19 years. In addition, the Greyhounds earned their first postseason berth in six years and achieved a 13-game home winning streak, the longest for ENMU since 1967. Owen produced an astonishing home record of 25-4 over the past two seasons.

“My family and I could not be more excited or grateful to be joining the Lenoir-Rhyne family and the Hickory community,” said Owen. “We were looking for a great place to live where we can raise our children and a university that truly values the importance of athletics. In my conversations with Dr. Whitt and Vice President Pate it became immediately evident that they have a strong desire for Lenoir-Rhyne basketball to compete amongst the best on the national stage. With their support, I believe we can build a championship-level program just as several other Bears athletic programs have already done. I want the fans out there to know that it would be best to pick out the seats you want now, because eventually we will be selling out Shuford Arena!”

During his time at ENMU, he founded the Fast Break Club, which raised more money for the men’s basketball program in his four years compared with the 20 previous years combined. Owen’s program also dominated the classroom as his team led all men’s sports in GPA in the 2023-24 season.

“I’m thrilled to officially welcome Brent, his wife Ashley, and their boys, Kruze and Benham, to the Bear family,” said Fred Whitt, Lenoir-Rhyne president. “His proven track record of success, both on the court and in developing student-athletes, makes him the perfect fit to lead our basketball program into the future. We’re excited for the energy and winning spirit he’ll bring to our campus community.”

Before Eastern New Mexico, Owen served as an assistant coach at the University of Southern Indiana for six years. During Owen’s time with the Screaming Eagles, the program achieved an overall record of 131-53. In each of his last four seasons at Southern Indiana, the program manufactured four-straight 20-win seasons, which included a 2018-19 campaign that saw the program reach the national semifinals and win the Midwest Regional.

While also serving as an assistant with the Screaming Eagles program, Owen was the coordinator of recruiting, scouting and led the Fastbreak Club. He was responsible for recruiting 2017 Division II All-American Jeril Taylor, who was also the GLVC Player of the Year, along with the 2018 and 2019 Division II All-American Alex Stein, who is the all-time leading scorer in program history.

Owen’s head coach experience began when he led the Tell City High School program. Located in Tell City, Indiana, Owen hired all new coaches at the youth and high school levels in addition to designing and implementing a basketball fundraising organization, the “Three-Point Club.” He also started the Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle that now has more than 100 members.

Before his six seasons with Southern Indiana as an assistant coach, Owen got his start with the program as a graduate assistant back in 2009. During his two years as a graduate assistant and one as a volunteer assistant, the Screaming Eagles posted a 72-16 record, including two appearances in the NCAA Tournament and a 2012 GLVC Championship. Over the duration of Owen’s combined nine-year tenure at Southern Indiana, the program averaged an impressive 23 wins per season and was ranked in the top 25 NABC national rankings in seven different seasons.

Owen is a two-time graduate of University of Southern Indiana, where he earned a master’s in public administration in 2011, a Bachelor of Science in teaching K-12 physical education with a minor in health and human safety in 2009.

“I would like to extend my sincere thanks to President Whitt, the screening committee, and to Dr. Kurt Patberg with Mammoth Sports Consulting for their investment in our search process,” Pate added. “Their tireless effort and dedication to finding an inspiring and talented leader and coach to position our student-athletes and team for success are greatly appreciated.”

Brent Owen will be introduced at a public ceremony on Thursday, April 11, at 12:30 p.m. in the Neill McGeachy Sports Performance Center on the Lenoir-Rhyne campus. Visitors are permitted to park at the practice field lot behind Moretz Stadium. There will be a reception after the press conference. Both the press conference and reception are open to the public. The event will also be live-streamed on LRBears.com.

Owen Coaching Profile:

2024-Present: Lenoir-Rhyne University – Head Coach

2020-2024: Eastern New Mexico University – Head Coach

2014-2020: University of Southern Indiana – Assistant Coach

2012-2014: Tell City High School – Head Coach

2011-2012: University of Southern Indiana – Volunteer Assistant

2009-2011: University of Southern Indiana – Graduate Assistant

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT COACH OWEN

“I am excited to see Brent take the next step in his career as the head coach at Lenoir-Rhyne University. He has a passion for the game of basketball and is a tireless recruiter. Most importantly, he has developed a reputation within the coaching community as being a great person. Those qualities will serve him well as a head coach. Sending congrats and best wishes to Brent in this next chapter.”

Matt Painter – Head Men’s Basketball Coach

Purdue University

“Brent Owen was my copilot for nearly a decade at the University of Southern Indiana. His passion for recruiting enabled us to compete on the national stage. Brent is an outstanding teacher of the game and most importantly, Coach Owen will care for your student-athletes from ‘Move-in Day through Graduation Day. Bear basketball is in great hands. You are going to enjoy the Owen family and many exciting nights in the South Atlantic Conference!”

Rodney Watson – Head Men’s Basketball Coach

University of Southern Indiana

“Lenoir-Rhyne University is getting one of the best young coaches in the country in Brent Owen. He is a man of great character, and he is a relentless worker. He will recruit quality student-athletes and will bring a style of basketball that Bear fans will love. Brent and his wonderful family will be huge assets not just to the university, but the entire community/region. He will have a lot of people at the University of Southern Indiana rooting for him! Lenoir-Rhyne University is getting a gem!”

Jon Mark Hall – Athletic Director

University of Southern Indiana