Islander Basketball Camp
Head CoachWillis Wilson
From the first day of Willis Wilson’s tenure at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on March 25, 2011, he made it instantly clear what his goal for the program was.
“We want to be the premier program in the Southland Conference and follow down the paths of a Butler, Gonzaga, George Mason or Virginia Commonwealth.”
Taking a program with one NCAA Tournament appearance and just 12 years of Division I history into a place alongside the premier names in college basketball is a tall task. The first step is building a culture and foundation for the Islanders.
The program’s philosophy for recruiting student-athletes – Character, Toughness, Talent – has been a major step in the building process for the Islanders. The hope for Wilson is that these attributes in his players will build Islanders Basketball into a championship program.
And the Islanders are on the verge of just that.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball has improved its record in each of its first five years under the direction of Wilson, taking just a six-win team in 2011-12 and turning it into a 25-win championship contender this past season.
The 2015-16 campaign was the best on the Island since the Blue and Green won the Southland Conference Championship in 2007. The Islanders went 25-8, reached the Southland Conference Finals and earned a postseason berth for the third straight year.
The 25 wins were just one shy of the program record of 26, set back in 2007, and marked the second consecutive 20-win campaign for Wilson’s Islanders. Wilson continued to mentor then junior Rashawn Thomas towards numerous awards and records, including Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year, NABC First Team All-District and Mid-Major All-America honors.
The year prior, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi had what was then its best season since 2007, winning 20 games and advancing to the Southland Conference Semifinals for the second straight year. The Islanders were the only team that season to defeat eventual champion Stephen F. Austin, topping the Lumberjacks at the American Bank Center on Feb. 14.
The 2014-15 campaign marked the Islanders’ second of three straight trips to the College Insider Tournament and opened with a win against recent NCAA Tournament Cinderella Florida Gulf Coast, before hosting the first postseason game in program history, a loss to Kent State in the second round.
Individual honors rolled in once again, as senior John Jordan was named First Team All-Southland for the second straight year, and added NABC First Team All-District honors for the first time. As a sophomore, Thomas picked up Second Team All-Southland recognition in each of those categories as well.
Jordan, in particular, rolled out the milestones, as the Wilson recruit became the school’s all-time leader in points, assists, minutes, steals, games played, games started, free throws made and free throws attempted.
Wilson also earned a personal milestone, as the bench boss picked up his 250th career win in the first game of the season. The 20-win campaign was his first since 2003-04 as a head coach. His team finished strong for the second year in a row, winning six of the last seven contests to enter the Southland Conference Tournament on a hot streak thanks to outstanding defense.
During the 2013-14 season, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi took a huge step in Wilson’s process, as the team had the third-largest turnaround in the nation, finishing with 12 more wins than it did the season before. The Islanders rolled to a 14-4 record and a second place finish in the Southland, and earned a berth in the College Insider Tournament. With a win over Northern Colorado in the CIT, the Islanders posted the program's first victory in a postseason tournament since its inception in 1999.
Individual accolades came with the team success, most notably for Wilson, who was the recipient of the Ben Jobe Coach of the Year Award, presented annually to the top minority coach in Division I. Two years later he was again named a finalist for the award.
Before coming to the Island University, Wilson served two seasons as an assistant to Josh Pastner at the University of Memphis. In two years, he saw the Tigers go 49-19 and advance to the postseason both years. During the 2010-11 season, the Tigers went 25-9, won their fifth Conference USA Championship and a berth in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. In his first season for the Tigers, Wilson helped guide the Tigers to a 24-10 overall record and a National Invitation Tournament (NIT) berth.
Wilson became one of the most respected coaches in the country in his time as the head coach at his alma mater, Rice. In 16 years leading the Owls, Wilson posted a career record of 219-246, leading the team to the postseason three times in his tenure, and finishing as the school’s all-time winningest coach.
The Silver Spring, Md., native led the Owl program to the most postseason appearances since 1950. Wilson guided the Owls to three National Invitation Tournaments (NIT) – in 1993, 2004 and 2005. Rice’s first round win at Wisconsin in the 1993 NIT was the program’s first postseason victory since the 1954 NCAA Tournament. Wilson was also an assistant on the Rice coaching staff when the Owls earned an NIT berth in 1991.
In his tenure at Rice, Wilson coached 17 all-conference performers, including 2007 Conference USA Player of the Year Morris Almond. Almond, a 2007 NBA Draft first round pick, and Michael Harris (2005) both earned All-America accolades. Wilson also had four players pick up CoSIDA Academic All-District honors, including Adam Peakes who was a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-America selection.
The 2004 team was Wilson’s most successful, as it won 22 games including the BP Top of the World Classic Championship. For his leadership in 2004, Wilson became the first Rice basketball coach to be selected as the National Association of Basketball Coaches District 9 Coach of the Year since the award began in 1970. During the 2005 season, the Owls won 19 contests and advanced to postseason action in consecutive seasons for only the second time in school history, as Michael Harris and Jason McKrieth again were named all-conference.
Prior to taking over the reins of the Rice program, Wilson spent the 1991-92 campaign as an assistant on Mike Montgomery’s staff at Stanford. The Cardinal finished the season with an 18-11 overall record and a 10-8 Pac-10 mark for fourth place in the league. Stanford earned an NCAA Tournament bid and lost in the first round to Alabama. Wilson coached All-American Adam Keefe, who finished his collegiate career as one of four players in NCAA history to have 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds while shooting 60 percent from the floor in a career.
Wilson began his collegiate coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater in 1985-86. After a one-year stint as a head coach at Houston’s Strake Jesuit Prep, Wilson returned to Rice as an assistant from 1987-91. As a member of the Rice staff, Wilson helped the Owls improve their Southwest Conference standing each year. During Wilson’s final year as a Rice assistant, the Owls finished fourth in the league and received a bid to the NIT. The winning record was Rice’s first in 20 years and the postseason appearance marked its first in 21 seasons.
After arriving on the Rice campus in August 1978, Wilson was a four-year letterman for the Owls. He co-captained the Owls to a 15-win season in 1982 and was a teammate of former NBA star and Rice Athletic Hall of Fame member Ricky Pierce. Wilson, a Will Rice College Fellow and member of the college court, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science in 1982. He also participated in the Rice NCAA Volunteers for Youth program.
Wilson and his wife, Vicki, have three children, daughter, Kristin, and twin sons, Zachary and Keenan.
Associate Head CoachMarty Gross
Former Wichita State assistant coach Marty Gross began his tenure as Associate Head Men’s Basketball Coach for Texas A&M – Corpus Christi in April 2011. Gross, who served as an assistant with Wilson at Rice for 15 seasons, has more than 30 years of experience in college basketball.
With Gross on staff, the Islanders enjoyed one of their most successful seasons ever in 2015-16. A&M-Corpus Christi's 25 wins were one shy of the program record and the Islanders advanced to the Southland Conference Championship game for the first time since winning the league back in 2007. In addition to a third straight trip to the postseason, a number of individual accolades came the Islanders' way, including First Team All-Southland, First Team All-District and Mid-Major All-America honors for junior Rashawn Thomas.
The Islanders recorded their first of back-to-back 20-win seasons in 2014-15. A&M-Corpus Christi advanced to the Southland Semifinals and earned a spot in the second of three straight postseason berths. The Islanders defeated Florida Gulf Coast in the first round of the CIT, before hosting the first postseason game in program history, a second round loss to Kent State. John Jordan graduated as the program's all-time leader in points and assists, while earning First Team All-Southland and Mid-Major All-America honors.
In his third year with the team, the Islanders made a huge turnaround, as many of Gross's recruits peaked in their roles as college basketball players. Jordan was named First Team All-Southland in his junior campaign, as he led the team to a 14-4 conference mark and a second-place finish. With 12 more wins than the previous season, the Islanders had the third-largest turnaround in the nation.
Gross has been key in luring some of the top talent from around the Lone Star State. In addition to landing Jordan out of Houston, Gross also helped secure Kyle Brown, Elijah Schmidt and Alex Holcombe out of Houston, as well as Joseph Kilgore, who was a top-10 recruit in that city. The Islanders have also added strong pieces from San Antonio (Cole Martinez, Jamell Bradley) and the Dallas area (Pye) in Gross’s tenure.
His recruiting ties aren’t just found in Texas, though. The Islanders have added players from the Northeast (Jelani Currie), Mid-Atlantic (Emmanuel Toney), Southeast (Zane Knowles, Perry Francois), Great Plains (Thomas, York Benjamin) and West Coast (Hameed Ali) to their roster in Gross’ time.
Before coming to the Coastal Bend, Gross spent the previous four seasons as an assistant coach at Wichita State, where he helped lead the Shockers to 29 wins and the NIT title in 2010-11 season. In each of his four seasons, WSU improved its win total, and over four years averaged more than 20 wins. Each of the last two years, the Shockers finished in the Missouri Valley Conference’s top two during the regular season.
Prior to joining the WSU staff, Gross served as an assistant at Rice from 1992-2007. At Rice, Gross coordinated recruiting and was involved extensively in all areas of the day-to-day operations of the men’s basketball program, including fund-raising, player development, community outreach, scouting and a daily practice focus on team defense. He helped the Owls to 60 wins from 2002-05, the second-most wins in a three-year span in school history.
Gross has been instrumental in cultivating the careers of 40 pros, including 21 from Rice, eight from Jacksonville, two from Birmingham Southern College, five from WSU and four Islanders. Some of the more notable pros at Rice included 6-foot-6 guard Morris Almond, who was a first-round pick of the Utah Jazz in 2007. Gross also helped mentor 6-foot-6 forward Mike Harris (Houston Rockets), 6-foot point guard Mike Wilks (San Antonio Spurs), and 6-foot-10 center Brent Scott (Indiana Pacers).
He began his collegiate coaching career at Birmingham Southern upon graduating from Jacksonville University in 1977. During his four years in Birmingham, the Panthers were 103-27, captured three consecutive Southern States Conference championships, competed in two national tournaments and achieved a national ranking as high as second in the NAIA polls.
In addition to Birmingham Southern, Gross also coached at his alma mater, Jacksonville. His first stint with the Dolphins was from 1981-83. After spending two seasons as an assistant at Rice, Gross then returned to JU in 1985 and spent the next seven years at the campus, including three seasons as the school’s associate head coach. In 1985-86, the Dolphins were 21-10, won the Sun Belt Conference Championship and made an appearance in the NCAA tournament. In 1986-87, the Dolphins were 19-11 and received an NIT postseason bid.
While at Jacksonville, Gross teamed with former New Jersey Nets coach and current CBS and ESPN color commentator Bob Wenzel, helping nurture the careers of six Dolphins selected in the NBA draft. Some of the more notable players include 1986 second-round pick (Denver) and current Orlando Magic General Manager Otis Smith, 1987 first-round pick Ronnie Murphy (Portland), 1990 first-round selection and NBA Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown (Boston) and 1992 second-round pick Tim Burroughs (Minnesota).
As a college player, Gross was a four-year letterman for Jacksonville, serving as the team’s co-captain as a senior in 1977. He also played on the 1974 Jacksonville NIT team, which featured four NBA draft selections. He received a B.S. in management from Jacksonville in 1977 and a Masters in the Art of Teaching from the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) in 1979.
Gross is a native of Yankton, S.D., where he was an all-state basketball player as a senior in 1973. He is a member of the NABC, TABC, and Saint James Episcopal Church. Gross is married to Mary Pat Nelson, a native of Beaumont.
Assistant CoachMark Dannhoff
Mark Dannhoff began his tenure on the staff at Texas A&M - Corpus Christi in 2010.
The native of La Crosse, Wis., is known for his work in coaching defense. In 2011-12, the Islanders finished just outside the upper half of the Southland in scoring defense, and allowed three points per game fewer than they did the previous season. The Islanders also finished fourth in the league in blocked shots and held UTSA, the league’s leader in three-point shooting, to just 28 percent from the outside in the two games with the Roadrunners.
In the 2013-14 season, the Islanders defensive efforts began to grow into fruition, as the team finished second in the league, allowing 68.0 points per game. Additionally, opponents shot .443 from the field – fifth in the Southland – and just .329 from beyond the arc, a total that led the league. The team also allowed a program-record-low 37 points in a win over Lamar in January.
The 2014-15 season again saw the Islanders ride a strong defensive effort to the program's first 20-win season since the 2006-07 team went to the NCAA tournament. A&M-Corpus Christi finished third in the Southland, with opponents scoring just 64.5 points on average. His guards also showed strong growth, highlighted by senior John Jordan earning First Team All-Southland recognition.
The Islanders again had success on the defensive end in 2015-16, finishing second in the Southland in holding oppoenents to 68.1 points per game and leading the league with a 41.0 opponent field goal percentage.
Dannhoff helped guide junior Rashawn Thomas and senior Hameed Ali to a number of defensive awards and records. Both were named to the Southland All-Defensive Team, while Thomas earned Southland Defensive Player of the Year honors. Thomas set a new program record with 75 blocked shots and Ali recorded the most ever steals in a season with 88. Ali's 2.7 steals per game finished second in the nation.
In all, he has been an assistant coach on nine collegiate coaching staffs and a head coach at Northland Community College for five seasons. He was also the interim head coach at Texas – Pan American during his stint with the Broncs.
Dannhoff started his career as an assistant at his alma mater, Wisconsin-La Crosse, where he coached for two seasons after receiving his bachelor’s degree. While on the coaching staff, Dannhoff earned his master’s degree in education with an emphasis on physical education and athletic administration.
He then moved on to be the head coach at Northland Community College in Minnesota in 1992. Under Dannhoff, the team win total improved every season, including during the 1995-96 season when his team won the Northern Division Championship and garnered an MCCC Regional Tournament invitation.
Dannhoff spent one season each at Arkansas Tech and Arkansas – Little Rock before moving to Centenary College for a year, and then a single season at New Orleans where the team improved its record by eight wins. Following his stint with the Privateers, Dannhoff spent four seasons at Tulane as an assistant coach and also served as the coordinator of scouting and camps. He followed his time at Tulane with two seasons at Georgia State and a year at Mercer.
From Mercer, he moved to UTPA where he spent the 2008-09 season on the Broncs coaching staff. Dannhoff then took a year off from the college game and returned home where he helped coach an AAU team in Wisconsin.
In addition to coaching responsibilities, Dannhoff is a key contributor to the Islanders scouting, recruiting and game preparation efforts. He is an NABC Assistant Coaches Committee member representing the Southland Conference.
Terry Johnson came to the Island University in 2014 and was elevated to the role of Assistant Coach for the Men's Basketball program in September of 2016.
In August of '14, Johnson was hired as the Director of Basketball Operations for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Johnson joined the Islanders staff after spending one season as an assistant coach at the University of St. Thomas in Houston.
In his role as Director of Basketball Operations, he was responsible for the majority of the administrative tasks surrounding the program, including team travel.
Johnson has also been integral in the continued success of the Islanders Summer Basketball Camps and has played a vital role in the team's commitment to community service over the past two years.
At St. Thomas, Johnson served under head coach Todd Smith, who also played and coached under Willis Wilson at Rice. He was responsible for recruiting, scouting, post play and travel. During his year with the Celts, Johnson helped the team to a 20-11 record and a second place finish in the Red River Athletic Conference to earn a second consecutive trip to Kansas City and the NAIA National Tournament.
Johnson played collegiate basketball at Moorpark Community College and Cal State-Stanislaus before starting his coaching career as a student assistant at CSU-Stanislaus. He graduated from the University in 2012.
Director of Basketball Operations
A former Islander standout, Josh Ervin joined the Islanders staff in 2017-18 and will serve as the Director of Basketball Operations.
Ervin returns to the Island after spending the past year and a half as the associate head men's basketball coach at Texas A&M-Commerce. Prior to his stint with the Lions, Ervin spent nearly five years as the head coach at Southeastern Illinois College. Since graduating from the Island University in 2007, Ervin has also served as a graduate assistant at South Alabama and an assistant coach at Southeastern Illinois.
In his senior season in 2007, Ervin was a member of the Islanders squad that captured the Southland Conference Tournament Championship. Ervin holds the Islanders' career record for three-point percentage, shooting at a .443 clip from beyond the arc. Ervin also ranks in the top 10 in Islanders history for assists and steals in a career.
Ervin and the 2007 Islanders are the only team in program history to reach the NCAA Tournament, nearly pulling off the upset of Wisconsin in the opening round of the dance.