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Jennings to step in for PC basketball
The Pirates have found their man.
T.J. Jennings, most recently an assistant coach at Reedley College, will replace Greg Lanthier as the head coach of Porterville College’s men’s basketball program.
The announcement was made Friday, roughly two months after Lanthier was released after the college opted not to renew his contract.
Jennings wrapped up the 2008-09 season after two years with Reedley women’s basketball, helping to guide the Tigers to a 13-18 record (5-5 Central Valley Conference) — including a 4-1 record in a short stint as interim coach.
Jennings was also an assistant coach for the women’s program at Fresno Pacific University where he starred on the men’s team and was a three-time Academic All-American. He also earned two bachelor degrees — business administration and communications — and a masters in kinesiology at FPU.
Jennings will be hired as a part-time instructor for the school’s physical education division beginning Aug. 24.
“We are proud to welcome T.J. to the Porterville College family,” said PC athletic director Eric Mendoza. “Our students will benefit from his great character and leadership, in addition to his knowledge of basketball. Many people believe that T.J. is a rising star in this profession.”
Jennings inherits a talented, but struggling program that has gone 26-87 (.230) over the past four seasons.
But the 28-year-old coach is eager to accept the challenge.
“I am excited about the opportunity to work with the students and staff at Porterville College,” Jennings said, “and I hope that we can get the people in the community excited about Pirate basketball the way it used to be.”
Jennings continued: “We have a good nucleus of players returning, which gives us some valuable experience at key positions. I am hopeful that, along with several talented Valley recruits coming in, we will have a few more newcomers arriving on the first day of school”
Jennings looked at former Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis — a longtime NBA assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers who recently took charge of the Minnesota Wolves — as an example of finally breaking out on his own.
“Being a head coach at this level is my dream job. I have been an assistant coach and an interim head coach... it’s time for me to test the waters as being a leader of my own team,” Jennings said. “I am excited to take what I have learned from my previous teams, and implement my own system- in the classroom and on the court. I can’t wait to meet people in Porterville, have our student-athletes become involved in community outreach, and build those relationships that will benefit everyone.”
Lanthier, who once starred as a point guard at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, moves on after coaching stints at Vista High School, where he won a pair of CIF championships, and at University of California San Diego. Lanthier was a full-time faculty member for the past four years at PC.