MBB: LETU rewards Wallace’s loyalty

Courtesy: LETUAthletics.com

LeTourneau University announced James Wallace as the school’s new head men’s basketball coach.

Wallace takes over after serving seven years as the assistant coach for a YellowJackets team that went 110-64 from 2014-21. LETU advanced to two NCAA Division III Tournaments, won the American Southwest Conference East Division twice, and captured the ASC Championship Tournament title in 2019-20.

“I am extremely humbled and excited to take over a program that has meant so much to me over the past seven years,” Wallace said. “I’m thankful to (Director of Athletics) Coach (Terri) Deike and (LETU President) Dr. (Steve) Mason for believing in me to lead this team. I want to thank my wife for how strong she’s been, and how supportive she’s been, and is going to be in this position. I want to thank my family for all their support. I came from a coaching background.”

Wallace takes over a program that went 7-4 overall, 5-3 in the ASC in a CoVID-pause-centered season. The Jackets qualified for the league postseason tournament for a sixth straight year. He inherits a team that returns its entire roster.

“The ability to stay with this group of young men who I love … I’m excited to stay at LeTourneau University,” Wallace said. “Having a great team returning, we have a lot of exciting things ahead. It just made this a job that I couldn’t pass up.”

Prior to coming to LeTourneau, Wallace spent three years at Southwest Minnesota State University, where he served two years as a graduate assistant coach and a year as a student assistant. There, he was part of a Mustangs program that went 66-51. A native of Bellevue, Nebraska, he played one season with the Mustangs. He played two years at Iowa Western Community College.

“James understands the LeTourneau culture and the goals of the men’s basketball program,” Deike said. “He’ll be a great asset to the program. We’re very excited to welcome James for his first head coaching opportunity.”

Wallace served all seven years at LETU under Dan Miller. Together, they won a school-record 24 games in 2017-18, capturing the ASC East crown for a second straight year. LeTourneau won its opening round NCAA Tournament game that season. The Jackets went 23-6 in 2019-20, winning the program’s first ASC postseason tournament championship. LETU advanced to its second NCAA Tournament that season.

“I definitely want to thank Coach Miller … for believing in me seven years ago,” Wallace said. “I’m thankful for the team and the players. They’ve believed in me the entire time. When I told them (I was being hired), there was a big celebration in the locker room. We’re keeping the family and brotherhood together. We do have some great pieces. We’re proud of the past, but we’re focused on the future.”