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Ball State hires UCLA assistant Michael Lewis as head men’s basketball coach

The Cards look once again to the PAC-12 for coaching help, landing on a former Hoosier guard to lead the new era.

NCAA Basketball: UCLA at Stanford Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The Ball State Cardinals announced their new head men’s basketball coach on Friday morning, with UCLA assistant head coach Michael Lewis set to take over the program effective immediately.

Lewis, a Jasper, Indiana, native has been an assistant coach at the Division I level for 18 seasons, with stops at Steven F. Austin, Eastern Illinois, Butler, Nebraska and UCLA prior to accepting the head coaching job in Muncie.

This will be Lewis’ first head coaching gig.

“Basketball in our state is personified in Michael Lewis,” Ball State athletics director Beth Goetz said via press release. “His outlook on the game, relationship building, recruiting network, pedigree and proactive approach to engagement with our stakeholders resides at a high level. Additionally, his program values and standards on the court, in the classroom and the community will create a road map for the Cardinals to move onward, compete for Mid-American Conference titles and position our institution for a return to the NCAA Tournament. We are thrilled to welcome him, his wife Nichole along with their daughters Avery and Emma to Ball State.”

Lewis will be taking the place of former head coach James Whitford, who was let go earlier this March after nine seasons of service in Muncie.

“Along with my family, I am very grateful for the opportunity to lead the men’s basketball program at Ball State University,” Lewis said, also via press release. “Thank you to University President Geoff Mearns and Beth Goetz with whom I shared a vision for our program that will be aligned with their leadership and the values of Ball State. That united vision is paramount for success. We are very excited to return to the state of Indiana where basketball means so much to lead a program with tremendous history and great potential.”

Lewis was an instrumental part of Butler Bulldogs from 2011-2016, working under Brad Stevens, Brandon Miller and Chris Holtman to make Butler one of the premier basketball programs in the country, with three NCAA tournament appearances.

Lewis started his career as a graduate assistant under the legendary Bobby Knight at Texas Tech, after playing under Knight at Indiana from 1996-2000.

The new head man will inherit an interesting situation, as Freshman of the Year Payton Sparks is set to transfer— but MAC all-freshman teammate Jaylin Sellers is set to stay. This roster gave Ohio a scare in the early rounds, so there is certainly potential.

There will be several programs within the division under first-or-second year head coaches to keep measure with as well, which could put the Cardinals in prime position to make a run early under the right circumstances.