By: Tim Andrzejewski (firstname.lastname@example.org)
HOUSTON, Texas — Rice head basketball coach Scott Pera announced the addition of former Owl Omar Mance as assistant coach Friday morning. Mance returns to South Main after serving as Director of Recruiting and Player Personnel at Vanderbilt.
“I am excited to announce that Omar Mance will be the last piece added to our staff,” said Rice head coach Scott Pera. “Omar brings a wealth of experience and a tremendous knowledge of Rice and basketball and Rice University to our team. He will be a great teacher, mentor and leader to our players. Omar understands all that we are looking for in our future student-athlete having done it all here himself. I can’t wait to work with him and the rest of our staff moving forward.”
Mance played one season at LSU before finishing his career at Rice. Mance was a second-team All-WAC pick in 2003 and was named the Owls' MVP in both 2002 and 2003. Just as decorated in the classroom, Mance was a two-time member of the WAC All-Academic Team and was named the Rice Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2002 and 2003. Following his senior season, Mance was honored with the Bob Quin Award as Rice's Top Male Student-Athlete and was a finalist for the Creamland Dairies National College Basketball Student-Athlete of the Year award.
This past season, Mance helped lead Vanderbilt to a 19-16 record, becoming the first staff in school history to take the Commodores to the NCAA Tournament, earning a #9 seed in the West Region. VU had five Top 25 RPI wins, six Top 50 wins and 11 Top 100 wins while having the #1 strength of schedule in the nation. Under Mance’s leadership, Vanderbilt led the SEC in free throw percentage (77.7%), three-point field goal percentage (37.6%) and three-pointers made (9.9).
This is Mance’s second stint coaching at his alma mater. He served as Director of Basketball Operations from January-May 2007 before being named an assistant coach for the 2007-08 season. Mance served as the Owls' recruiting coordinator. In addition to his coaching and recruiting duties, Mance oversaw the Owls' academic progress. Under his watch, Rice posted a 98 percent graduation rate, the best mark in the country.
"I can’t express how excited I am to be back at Rice. I'm truly blessed to be back home. It’s special because of the people here, the former teammates, players, coaches, and Rice friends from the past. We are family and I can’t wait to represent everyone, being here on this staff. The great history, legacy, and foundation here will remain and continue to grow with Coach Pera and this staff. I am excited to work under the great leadership of Dr. Karlgaard and new head coach Scott Pera. I look forward to building on the foundation laid from this past year and all of the years of excellence and success that I saw and was a part of in the past. This place is special, it’s my alma mater, it’s Rice, and I’m an Owl for Life. "
Prior to Vanderbilt, Mance spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Liberty. While at Liberty, Mance helped the Flames clinch the No. 5 seed and a first-round bye in the 2016 Big South Championship, finishing 10-8 in conference play. Liberty's win total marked the first time the program had garnered 10 Big South victories since the 2010-11 season. He was also instrumental in Liberty's Big South slate that was highlighted by a seven-game win streak, marking the fourth-longest streak in program history. The Flames entered postseason play second in the conference in scoring defense, holding opponents to 68.0 points per game. As the recruiting coordinator this past season, he helped Liberty sign one of its most highly touted recruiting classes in school history. Mance was also a member of the 2016 Big South Coach of the Year Ritchie McKay's staff.
Prior to coming to Liberty, Mance spent three seasons as an assistant at Army under head coach Zach Spiker. While at Army, Mance helped lead the Black Knights to its most successful Patriot League season at 8-6 and its best overall regular season in 28 years at 16-15. Army's eight regular season wins in Patriot League play marked a school record, securing the team's first winning season in league history. The Black Knights also garnered Army's first overall winning season since 1984-85, while starting four freshmen in the rotation throughout the entire conference season in 2012-13. The Black Knights won the coveted "Star Game" against Navy in back-to-back seasons, becoming the first coaching staff since the Mike Krzyzewski era to accomplish the feat. Mance worked with the program's guards.
During his tenure, he coached the Patriot League Rookie of the Year as well as three Patriot League all-rookie team members. Mance also helped develop two-time first team All-Patriot League performer Ella Ellis, who finished his career fifth all-time in scoring with 1,558 point and 190 three-pointers. In addition to working with position players, Mance also served as a recruiting coordinator and was instrumental in game preparation.
Before arriving at West Point for the 2010-11 season, Mance served as the head varsity coach for the North Shore Country Day (Ill.) boys' team. In his two seasons, Mance led the squad to its two best finishes in school history, winning 16 games and making the regional championship game in 2009. Mance guided seven players to all-league honors and placed two of his charges on the honorable mention all-state squad. He also served as the school's Dean of Multicultural Affairs during the 2009-10 school year.
Before entering the collegiate ranks, Mance was the athletic director at Joseph Sears School in Kenilworth, Ill., from 2005-07. He oversaw every aspect of each of the school's programs and also served as the head coach of the eighth grade boys' basketball squad. While working at the school, Mance also helped found the Robison-Mance Group, a company that worked with leagues, camps and teams to provide mentoring services to more than 900 youth in the Chicago area. Mance was the co-director and coach of the RMG Elite AAU team.
In 2006 and 2008, Mance worked with Athletes in Action in Nairobi, Kenya. He toured schools, academies and orphanages while helping coach college and club teams. The trip to Africa was just one of his international experiences. Mance played on professional tours in Europe, Asia and Canada during the summers of 2004 and 2005. He was named the tournament MVP of the International Cup in Moscow in 2005.
Mance started his coaching career as an assistant coach at Martin Luther King High School in Atlanta, Ga. He helped the squad to a 5-A state final four in 2004. Mance worked for his father, Eric, an Albany (Ga.) Hall of Fame Inductee who has won more than 500 games in his career.