From Nicholls State University Athletics
Austin Claunch was named the next head coach of the Nicholls State University men's basketball program on Thursday as it was announced by director of athletics Matt Roan. Claunch's hiring is subject to approval by the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors.
An introductory press conference and meet and greet with Claunch is tentatively scheduled for the week of April 9 with additional details forthcoming.
"As we vetted a strong pool of candidates, Austin Claunch stood out as the right man to lead the program," Roan said. "Because of his high basketball IQ and broad network, I have no doubt Austin will be able to successfully recruit, develop, and coach outstanding student-athletes who will compete for championships and earn their degrees. More than anyone else, Austin understands the recipe for success at Nicholls and will provide consistency to our program while continuing its upward trajectory."
Claunch spent the past two seasons as an assistant on Richie Riley's staff, contributing heavily to the Colonels historic 2018 campaign that included the most wins (21) since 1995 and best Southland Conference record (15-3) since 1998.
"I am beyond excited to be named the next head basketball coach at Nicholls," Claunch said. "The people of this university and all of Thibodaux have embraced me and treated me like family since the first day I arrived two years ago. I am ready to give the community a winning program built on enthusiasm, accountability and hard work. The foundation has been laid, and the future is extremely bright. I am truly humbled and honored to be leading our basketball program into the next phase."
Under Riley, Claunch was primarily responsible for guard development, specifically point guards, working daily with seniors Roddy Peters (SLC Newcomer of the Year, First Team), Jahvaughn Powell (All-SLC Defensive Team), Lafayette Rutledge (Single-season 3-point record holder) and Tevon Saddler (All-SLC Second Team). He was also the key recruiter for Kevin Johnson and Ryghe Lyons, who both started over 15 games as freshmen.
Claunch's impact at Nicholls was immediately felt as it was his scout that helped the Colonels knock off Boston College 79-73 on Nov. 11, 2016. He worked closely with Riley on offensive and defensive schemes and gameplans. Claunch created, orchestrated and conducted all basketball camps for the Colonels over the past two years.
Before coming to Nicholls, Claunch served in a variety of roles at Clemson University under coach Brad Brownell from 2013-16. With the Tigers, Claunch most notably instructed All-ACC First Teamer Jaron Blossomgame and current Brooklyn Nets small forward KJ McDaniels. He also worked under Paul Hewitt at George Mason during the 2012-13 season as the director of player development.
Each summer from 2007-2011, Claunch worked with former NBA player and longtime Head Coach John Lucas at his camps in Houston. He also interned in the summer of 2010 with Joe Abunassar and Impact Basketball. From 2008-10, Claunch assisted his father's 15U and 16U Adidas Houston Select Basketball Club teams.
Claunch was a four-year starter and two-time captain at Emory University on the Division III level from 2008-12. He ranks first in Emory history in career assists (580), assists per game (5.8) and minutes played (3,132). Claunch is also second in free throw percentage (.877). He was also a three-time All-Conference First Team player at Emory, and a member of the University Athletic Association's 25th Anniversary Team. Claunch set the school's three best single-season assist totals over each of his final three seasons.
The Houston native earned his undergraduate degree in political science, with a minor in religion, from Emory in 2012. Claunch obtained a master's degree in human resource development from