In the past few weeks, most of you had been optimistic and excited about Iona College’s hire of Tim Cluess. The only reservation expressed was that he was a Long Island coach with Long Island ties. The question was simple: How would Cluess relate to the metropolitan area’s other sectors?
As far as Westchester is concerned, the answer is Garee Bryant. Iona hired the Mount Vernon assistant to join Cluess’ staff as an assistant. Bryant spent the last six season down the bench from Bob Cimmino.
Hopefully, I’ll have more from Bryant/Cimmino shortly.
UPDATE, 9:30 p.m.: I talked to Bryant a little while ago. He was justifiably very excited to land the job. He said it all started about two and a half weeks ago when Cleuss came to Mount Vernon during an open gym. He and Bryant first met in 2004 at the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach when Cleuss’ St. Mary’s of Manhasset team with Danny Green (UNC). As a Post grad, Bryant followed Cluess when he accepted the job there and the two have known one another since.
“When he offered me the job, it was a no-brainer,” Bryant said. “I had to take it.”
It wasn’t without trepidation. The 32-year-old Bryant graduated from Mount Vernon in ‘95 and had one goal since: To replace Cimmino one day. He told me he never even thought about coaching college basketball but he relishes the opportunity to do so.
“I’m excited and I’m nervous because I”m going on to something new,” Bryant said. “I’m leaving Mount Vernon, something I’ve known for the last 15 years of my life. I was always a Mount Vernon Knight. Even though I went away to college, I always knew I was coming back.”
Now that Bryant is on to Iona, he will serve as the No. 3 assistant on Cluess’ staff.
“I might be the most inexperienced guy on the staff, but when it comes to basketball and it comes to recruiting, I’m willing to learn,” Bryant said. “I don’t mind being in there for 12 or 13-hour nights because I go to work happy to be there.”
UPDATE, 11:00 p.m.: I just talked to Cimmino, who had this to say about Bryant: “Selfishly, I have ambivilant feelings. He’s become a tremendous coach and a great personal friend. But when I go away from that, I’m very proud to see he’s doing so well coming away from our program. I think it’s an awesome opptunity for him and I think he’s a great fit.”
Of course, Byrant’s hire raises an interesting scenario. As many of you know, the Mount Vernon program had a tenuous relationship with Iona dating back to a series of events in 2004 that prompted Cimmino to write a letter to the school.
With Bryant’s hire, that shaky history is either in the past or about to be.
“Without a doubt. Everything’s a go as far as I’m concerned,” Cimmino said. “Gary’s just a class act. Any issues that need addressing he will (address them). I think everything’s good to go.”
Here’s the release from Iona (after the jump):
NEW ROCHELLE, NY – Iona College men’s basketball head coach Tim Cluess announced the appointment of Garee Bryant as an assistant coach. Bryant joins the staff after spending the last six seasons as a varsity assistant coach at Mount Vernon High School.
“I’ve known Garee from both his playing days and now his coaching days and his ties to the local high school and AAU programs will prove invaluable for our program,” said Cluess. “Garee will bring a tremendous work ethic along with teaching ability. He is highly regarded among his peers in the area and we are very excited to have him on board.”
Under the tutelage of long-time head coach, Bob Cimmino, Bryant helped lead the Knights to three New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships, three New York State Federation of Secondary Schools Athletic Associations championships and six Section I titles. Bryant helped mentor several Division I players during his time at his alma mater including Iona College graduate Dexter Gray. He also helped to develop Rutgers’ Michael Coburn and Jonathan Mitchell, West Virginias’ Kevin Jones, Pittsburgh’s Keith Benjamin, George Mason’s Sharrod Wright and UMass’ Chris Lowe. In addition to his duties along side Cimmino on the varsity bench, Bryant was also the Knights’ junior varsity head coach for five years.
Bryant has also served as coach for numerous basketball camps such as MVP, Five-Star, Hoop Group and Syracuse University. Since 2005, he has coached with the Westchester Hawks AAU Program, where he groomed some of the best talent around the county. In 2009, the Hawks finished fourth at AAU Nationals, falling to the eventual national champion Ohio Red. The squad also finished first in the 17-and-Under Providence Jam Fest. The Westchester Hawks U-17 squad began the 2010 campaign as the No. 9 team in the country. Two standout performers for the Hawks that now play at the Division I level are Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick and Syracuse’s Mookie Jones.
A native of Mount Vernon, NY, Bryant began playing basketball his junior year in high school, under the influence of Cimmino. Along with teammate and former Iona point guard John McDonald, Bryant helped lead Mount Vernon to back-to-back Section I Championships in 1994 and 1995. Bryant continued his playing career at the college level and graduated in 1999 from Long Island University, C.W. Post Campus. He completed time at C.W. Post as one of the top performers in school history. He graduated as the program’s top all-time point scorer and currently ranks No. 2 on the list with 1,835 points. He also holds the single game scoring mark with 47 points vs. Southampton College.
Bryant earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from C.W. Post and is currently working on a master’s degree in Education.