Gonzaga aide Stephen Gentry strolls down memory lane against Illinois and former boss | Spokesman.com

Not many coaches or operations staffers stay put in one place. This article talks about Gonzaga Men’s Basketball Director of Operations Stephen Gentry and his relationship with some current opponents.

LAHAINA, Hawaii – Stephen Gentry’s frequent chats and text exchanges with Illinois coach Brad Underwood should resume later this week.

They’ve been put on hold temporarily with third-ranked Gonzaga facing Illinois in a Maui Invitational opener Monday at 8:30 p.m. Pacific.

It’ll mark the end of Gentry’s five-day stretch connecting with two former bosses who were influential in the career of Gonzaga’s director of basketball operations. Last Thursday, the Zags handled Texas A&M, which is coached by Billy Kennedy.

Gentry was elevated from video coordinator to director of operations when Kennedy was hired at Texas A&M after Mark Turgeon left for Maryland. Gentry stayed two seasons with the Aggies before leaving for … an assistant coaching position on Underwood’s staff at Stephen F. Austin.

When Underwood was hired at Oklahoma State, Gentry joined him as director of player development. It was a one-year stint for both as Illinois came calling after the Cowboys lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. That required another move for Gentry, but this one turned out to be even shorter than the stint at OSU.

“I initially made the move there and was all set to buy a house,” the former Zag walk-on guard said, “and (Zags assistant) Tommy Lloyd calls. I still remember walking into Brad’s office and I said I’d been offered a job at Gonzaga. I’d turned it down a few years earlier when they hired John Jakus. I couldn’t turn it down again.”

Underwood completely understood Gentry’s attachment to Gonzaga.

“I have tremendous appreciation for his intelligence, work ethic and he’s a very innovative thinker,” Underwood said. “More importantly, we’ll always have a special relationship with Stephen, his wife, Leah, and their daughter, Svea.”

Gentry, who helped introduce analytics to Underwood’s program, said his former boss is intense and an “incredible motivator” who brings out the best in players. Underwood invited his staff to present ideas and he often implemented those into practices or games.

Read the entire article at Spokesman.com.

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