Chris Craig latest addition to men's basketball coaching staff
GREELEY -- Northern Colorado head basketball coach B.J. Hill secured his first NCAA Division I coaching gig with the Bears four years ago after he displayed unsurpassed hunger and drive at various stops on the junior-college circuit.
So, it should come as no surprise that Hill’s latest assistant coaching hire, Chris Craig, followed a similar path to Greeley.
Hill officially welcomed Craig to the Northern Colorado family on Thursday morning, and he joins Shawn Ellis and Ryan Martin on Hill’s first head coaching staff.
Craig comes to the Bears after six years at various coaching stops in the United States and Europe, including spending the last three years as the top dog at the College of Eastern Utah in Price, Utah, where he compiled a 69-32 record and led the Golden Eagles to a third-place finish at this year’s NJCAA national tournament.
“We’re really excited about the addition of Chris Craig,” Hill said. “Anytime you can bring a guy into your program who’s a proven head coach and recruiter, you’re pretty lucky. Guys in this profession who I know and respect, who know Chris better than I did at the beginning of this process, spoke very highly of him. He’s impressed a lot of people with his work ethic and his teams’ style of play.
“And the more I got to know him and he got to know me, the more we got excited about the possibility of what his addition means to this program. We’re very lucky to bring Chris into the fold.”
Craig first made a name for himself on the college basketball scene while starring at UTEP for former Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie. He established a pair of school three-point shooting records during his time in El Paso (84 in a single season and at least one in 28 consecutive games), and he led the Miners to a first-round matchup with ACC-power Maryland in the first round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament.
Before that, he played two years at Arizona Western College in Yuma, Ariz., and ended his junior college career rated as one of the top five junior-college point guards in the nation.
Craig got into coaching with a pair of stints in Ireland and Switzerland. He led the Tralee (Ireland) Tigers to a national championship in 2003 and was voted the National Coach of the Year by eurobasket.com.
He was then an assistant for Neuchatel Ensa Union in Switzerland’s top professional league the next year before returning to the United States and beginning his Hill-like trek up the NCAA coaching ladder.
“Chris’ overall career has definitely taken him all over the map, and that overall package is what attracted us when we set out to add another member to this staff,” Hill said. “He put together some great stints at the junior-college and Division I level, and he’s played for some really good coaches along the way.
“We have similar philosophies on how to play the game of basketball, and what he did at Eastern Utah is similar to what we did at some of the junior-college places I was at. He definitely fits into what we were looking for, and he’s going to be a great asset to Northern Colorado basketball.”
Craig is engaged to fiancée Tara Powell and they have a daughter, Maiya Elizabeth.