Lance Egnatz and Mark Halsell have joined The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball coaching staff, head coach Jason James announced today. Egnatz has been hired as an assistant coach while Halsell will serve as a graduate assistant.
Egnatz joins the Skyhawks after four seasons as the top assistant at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn. Halsell recently completed his playing career at Park University in Parksville, Mo.
“Lance is a very well-connected basketball mind who is willing to do what it takes to be successful,” James said. “In my mind, loyalty is a very important part of being in this profession and Lance is as loyal a guy as you will find. We all know that recruiting is a very important part of having a successful program and Lance has immersed himself in the recruiting process at a very high level. Our university will benefit from his hard work and dedication – we are very fortunate to have Lance as a part of our program and our community.”
“One word that I would use to describe Mark is hungry,” James said. “He wants to be taught the tools to achieve his goals. I have known Mark for a long time and he comes from basketball, he grew up in the game and has seen competition at a very high level. He has come here with the right attitude and has made an immediate impact in our program. Mark is an ‘anything’ guy – he will do anything that is asked of him to help us be successful. Programs need those types of people. Mark has a bright future in this profession.”
At Lincoln Memorial, Egnatz oversaw two of the winningest seasons in school history. In that span, the Railsplitters posted a 53-9 record and qualified for its first two NCAA Division-II Tournaments in program history. Overall, he coached eight All-South Atlantic Conference players in his tenure.
Last season, the Railsplitters went 26-6 with a 14-4 South Atlantic Conference mark. Lincoln Memorial was ranked No. 1 in the nation for the first time in program history at one point in 2011-12 and also set the school record for scoring defense at 62.3 points per game.
Two years ago, Lincoln Memorial ranked as high as fifth in the country before finishing the season with a 27-3 record. The Railsplitters shattered program and conference records for victories (27), consecutive wins (22), winning percentage (.900) and conference wins (16).
Before his stint at Lincoln Memorial, Egnatz was an assistant coach for two seasons at Polk State College in Winter Haven, Fla. In his final season at the Division-I junior college, the Eagles tallied a 24-6 record and earned a No. 4 ranking in the state of Florida. He guided several prospects to NCAA Division-I and Division-II schools while at Polk State.
Egnatz began his coaching career at Somerset Academy in Pembroke Pines, Fla., where he served as head coach for two seasons as well as one year as an assistant.
Egnatz played collegiately at both Pennsylvania State Beaver (1998-2000) and Lynn University (2000-02). He played for Lincoln Memorial’s current coach Josh Schertz at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. In addition to his basketball playing days, Egnatz also was a pitcher on the PSU Beaver baseball team, who advanced to the 1999 NJCAA World Series.
As a high school player, Egnatz led the Seneca Valley (Pa.) High School basketball team to its first-ever postseason appearance.
A Pittsburgh, Pa. native, Egnatz graduated from Lynn with a degree in sports and recreational management in 2002. He is currently pursuing his Masters Degree in sports leadership from Duquesne University. Egnatz, 34, is married to the former Juliette Schohn of Paris, France.
“I am very excited to be a part of the Skyhawk family,” Egnatz said. “I thank Coach James for the opportunity and I am looking forward to getting the season started.”
Halsell began his collegiate playing career at the University of Kentucky under head coach Billy Gillispie. He appeared in six games for the Wildcats in 2008-09 before transferring to Park University in Parksville, Mo., where he completed his playing career.
Playing for head coach Jason Kline, Halsell was a part of a pair of 20-win squads and two American Midwest Conference championship teams at Park. The Pirates made a pair of NAIA national tournament appearances in Halsell’s first two seasons (2009-10, 2010-11).
Overall, Halsell played in 51 games over three years at Park. During his tenure, the Pirates went 56-35 overall with a 27-13 conference record.
Halsell was born in Midwest City, Okla., but played high school basketball at St. Charles High School in St. Charles, Mo. Playing alongside current NBA player Josh Harrellson, Halsell and the Pirates advanced to the Missouri state semifinals in 2007. During his senior season, Halsell averaged eight points, three rebounds, three assists and a steal for head coach Gary Wacker.
Off the court, Halsell was a standout performer in the classroom. He was one of only 61 men’s basketball recipients of the Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete award in 2011-12, the highest individual academic honor an NAIA student-athlete can receive. He also earned numerous academic accolades throughout his high school career.
Halsell’s family also has an athletic background, as his parents Mark and Vicki played college basketball at Park. His cousin Tray Allen also played football at the University of Texas.
Halsell graduated from Park with a degree in management and finance in 2012.
“I am grateful to be joining the coaching staff,” Halsell said. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with Coach James and the rest of the coaching staff.”
The Skyhawks open their season on Nov. 2 with an 11 a.m. exhibition against Illinois College at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center.