Humboldt State University men’s basketball coach Steve Kinder, Grand Canyon University assistant coach Mark Nelson and Panola College assistant coach Guy Beach are the finalists for the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s vacant men’s head basketball coach position.
UH-Hilo athletic director Dexter Irvin announced the finalists Tuesday, and he will conduct interviews this week. He hopes to offer the job to one of them by Thursday or Friday and have the new coach on board by June 1.
A school-record 361 applicants applied for the Vulcans’ job.
“We had an excellent pool of talented coaches to pick from, and all three finalists have outstanding resumes,” Irvin said.
At Division II Humboldt State, Kinder spent 20 years as an assistant under Tom Wood before compiling a 59-27 record over the past three seasons as the Lumberjacks’ head coach.
Humboldt State went to the NCAA tournament in 2011 and 2012, going 26-4 and winning the California Collegiate Athletic Association regular-season title in Kinder’s first season before claiming a CCAA tournament title the following year.
The Lumberjacks went 11-15 last season.
Kinder also played college basketball at Humboldt State, helping the Lumberjacks win a North Coast Athletic Conference basketball title in 1985.
Nelson has served as an assistant under Russ Pennell for the past four seasons, with Grand Canyon making a second straight NCAA Division II tournament appearances last season.
Nelson also won 243 games over 11 years as a junior college head coach at Butler County College and Cowley County Community College in Kansas, and Wabash Valley College in Illinois. In the 2001-02 season, Nelson coached current Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen on a Wabash Valley team that went to the National Junior College Athletic Association national semifinals.
The following summer, Nelson coached a U.S. junior national team that included future NBA stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Deron Williams.
Nelson played two seasons under Lon Kruger at Kansas State, with the Cougars twice making the NCAA tournament.
Beach just completed his 19th season as a college basketball coach at Panola, a junior college in Carthage, Texas. He coached under Willard Cotten, helping guide the Ponies to a 9-20 record last season.
Before landing at Panola, Beach spent one season as an assistant coach for the Idaho Stampede, which won the NBA Development League championship in 2008.
Beach also served as an assistant coach at the College of Eastern Utah, Weber State, UTEP and Fresno State. He was a head coach at Eastern Utah and the College of Southern Idaho, where he compiled a 103-25 record in four seasons.
Over the past month, a five-member committee headed by UH-Hilo Athletic Director of Compliance Pam Knox, whittled down the list of applicants to a workable number. Last week, the committee interviewed 16 coaches on Skype and cross-checked references before submitting the finalists’ names to Irvin.
Once Irvin selects his top candidate, he will recommend him for the job to UH-Hilo Chancellor Donald O. Straney for final approval.
The UH-Hilo basketball job opened up after the 2012-13 season, when Jeff Law stepped down to accept the head coaching position at Western New Mexico University. Law spent 15 seasons with the Vulcans, who finished 6-19 overall and 4-13 in the Pacific West Conference last season.
Irvin said earlier that UH-Hilo has signed two basketball recruits and that all five returnees from this past year’s squad have said they will return for next season. The AD said the new head coach would have four scholarships to work with when he steps on board.
The new coach will work directly under Irvin and although a salary was not posted with the original job description, it’s believed to range between $55,000 and $65,000 per year — in line with some similar NCAA Division II positions on the mainland.