The University of Rhode Island Rams Men's Basketball team has tapped longtime Assistant, David Cox, to helm the program this week after Dan Hurley accepted a position 60 miles east, with the University of Connecticut.
Hurley is credited with rebuilding the Rams and establishing Rhode Island as a top-caliber mid-major destination after a six year run featuring two NCAA tournament wins as well as an Atlantic 10 title, and his departure raised concerns among Rhody Nation as to who would carry the continue their forward momentum.
There has been much speculation about who Thorr Bjorn would select as the next head coach for the Rams. Names such as Nate Oates (Buffalo) and John Becker (Vermont) emerged as possibilities. One media outlet even flat out invented a story that Rick Pitino was on the verge of inking a long-term contract.
One name that was on everybody's list was David Cox.
But beside serving as Rhode Island's Associate Head Coach for the past four seasons, how much do we know about his ability to carry the torch lit by Hurley?
A native of Maryland, David Cox has been a part of college basketball since the mid 1990s. He was a three-year starting guard for William & Mary, graduating in 1995. Cox went on to coach at the High School, Prep, and AAU levels for several years, before accepting a position as Director of Basketball Operations at Pitt in 2006.
In 2007, Cox was added to the coaching staff at Georgetown under coach John Thompson III, and helped lead the Hoyas to three March Madness appearances in four seasons. In 2011, Cox changed programs again, having been named Associate Head Coach for Rutgers, helping the program recruit the 15th-best class in 2011. During his tenure at Rutgers, Cox served as Interim Head Coach for the Scarlet Knights during a three game stretch, winning all three.
Cox joined Hurely's staff at Rhode Island in 2015. As Associate Head Coach, Cox oversaw a Rams program that won 91 games in four years. Hurley put his new coach to work, utilizing him as his primary recruiter, and tasking him to bring the types of players to Kingston that would thrive under Hurley's system.
Cox opened up the Rams' recruiting circles. Now, instead of drawing players exclusively from New England and the Greater New York Metro regions, Rhode Island was bringing in talent from the Capital Beltway and from the midwest.
Without Cox, it is unlikely that Rhode island would have landed transfers Kuran Iverson (Memphis) or Stanford Robinson (Indiana). Without Cox, current Rams Michael Terstea (Baltimore-area), Fatts Russell (Philadelphia), and Jeff Dowtin (Baltimore-area) would likely be playing elsewhere.
Further, next years' recruiting class - a top 25 recruiting class - includes several David Cox recruits: Jermaine Harris (Baltimore-area), Brendan Adams (Baltimore-area), and Tyrese Martin (Pennsylvania).
Cox was instrumental in landing the future stars for the Rams. While Dan Hurley was a top-class coach, Cox really drove the talent pipeline that furnished the players who could excel at the Ryan Center. Many fans from around Rhody Nation expressed their desire to land a marquee coach to replace Hurley, and it would be exciting to think about someone like Bruce Pearl or Tommy Amaker pacing the sidelines in Kingston, but hiring an outside coach would lead to transfers and de-commitments - meaning a compelte restart for the Rams.
Retaining and promoting Cox was the best way to retain the momentum that Hurley brought to the program in the past six years. Cox can take the recruits he has worked with for several seasons - players that were carefully curated to thrive in the Rhody system - and advance the team forward on its quest for national relevance.
So, hiring David Cox as the 20th Head Coach of the URI Rams was not only the right choice - it was really the only choice.
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