Six days after George Washington fired men’s basketball coach Maurice Joseph following one of the worst seasons in program history, the Colonials announced Jamion Christian as their new coach Thursday.
The job is a homecoming for Christian, who grew up outside of Richmond, graduated from Mount St. Mary’s in 2004 and led his alma mater to a 101-95 record and two NCAA tournament appearances from 2012 to 2018. Christian left Mount St. Mary’s to replace Jimmy Patsos as the head coach at Siena before this season and led the Saints to a 17-16 record, a nine-win improvement over last season.
“I am honored to be able to return home to take a job I have dreamed of having since I was a child,” Christian, 36, said in a statement. “I’d like to thank President Thomas LeBlanc for this incredible opportunity. It was a difficult decision to leave Siena because I absolutely loved the people, but there were only a few jobs that could take me away, and I can’t wait to get to work in Foggy Bottom. GW has a rich basketball history and the potential to become a juggernaut in the Atlantic 10. I’m looking forward to bringing an exciting style of basketball to the nation’s capital that all of the Buff and Blue faithful will be proud of."
Christian, a three-year captain at Mount St. Mary’s as a player, spent one year as an assistant under Shaka Smart at VCU before being named the coach at his alma mater before 2012-13 season. Inheriting a team that went 8-21 the previous year, Christian led the Mountaineers to an 18-14 record and an appearance in the Northeast Conference tournament final in his first season. Mount St. Mary’s won the conference championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament the following year. The Mountaineers would return to the NCAA tournament in 2017 following their first 20-win season in 21 years.
During his time in Emmitsburg, Christian made it an emphasis to recruit within the DMV.
“I think it’s the best area for basketball in the country, so we’re just going to keep trying to protect it,” Christian said in 2017. “When we did research a few years back on the Northeast Conference and who wins the championship, they always had a guy from the DMV. So I just said, we’re going to make sure we do a great job keeping guys from going to other schools around our league. Our whole recruiting strategy is keeping guys right here.”
George Washington Athletic Director Tanya Vogel said in a statement that Christian is the person who can make the Colonials a “perennial contender in the Atlantic 10.”
“We need a leader with relentless optimism, positivity and basketball acumen,” Vogel said. “We have found that in Jamion Christian. His passion for teaching and his endless energy to get the absolute best out of each individual in his program is infectious. I am confident in Coach Christian’s ability to build a sustainable program that is in the national conversation again soon.”
There’s a lot of building to do at George Washington after the Colonials went 9-24 this season. Joseph, 33, went 44-57 in three seasons, a tenure that began when the former assistant was promoted to head coach upon the firing of Mike Lonergan less than two months before the 2016-17 season. The program had been thrown into turmoil by an investigation into whether Lonergan verbally abused his players and made inappropriate remarks about athletic director Patrick Nero. As interim coach in his first season, Joseph led the Colonials to a 20-15 record and a berth in the College Basketball Invitational postseason tournament, but GW slipped to 15-18 in 2017-18. The Colonials’ nine wins this season were their fewest since the 2007-08 campaign.
Christian’s brother, Jarell, is the coach of the Capital City Go-Go, the Wizards’ G League affiliate.
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