By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
Josh Prock isn’t intimidated by the prospect of taking over a program that went unbeaten and won a national championship in 2007-08.
In fact, he’s looking forward to it.
On Friday, the 30-year-old graduate of Clovis High was named women’s basketball coach at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas. It’s his first head coaching position and first time coaching women’s basketball.
The Lady Jackets graduated three top players off a 33-0 team that captured the NCAA Division III championship in March.
“That’s pretty unique,” Prock said Tuesday of the unbeaten run. “But I’ve been around good programs, and I’ve always said I don’t want a job without expectations.”
He replaces Chris Kielsmeier, who was the winningest coach in the program’s history (179-44) and left after eight seasons for a position at Division II Wayne (Neb.) State.
“Coach Prock brings a wealth of knowledge and a strong base of collegiate experiences to the position that will serve our program well,” HPU director of athletics Mike Jones said. “He is a quality coach, but more importantly, a solid Christian man with a heart for young people.”
Prock graduated from CHS in 1996 and the University of Oklahoma in 2001. He was a student assistant at OU, then a grad assistant under Kelvin Sampson.
He was the Sooners’ video coordinator during their 2001-02 national runnerup season and became director of basketball operations in 2004-05.
“I learned more from there than anyplace,” Prock said. “Coach Sampson taught me not only how to build a program, but how to sustain it.
In 2005-06, he was an assistant at NCAA Division II power Kentucky Wesleyan before spending the past two years as a junior varsity coach at Denton Ryan High School in the Dallas area.
Prock also coached girls track at Ryan, something which he thinks will help him transition from men’s to women’s basketball.
“There’s obviously a difference between (coaching) girls and guys,” he said, “but I think that kind of helped me.”
Despite the graduation losses, including Division III national player of the year Meia Daniels, Prock said the Lady Jackets’ program is in good shape with several key players returning.
“They obviously lost a tremendous amount (of talent),” he said. “But like I told our returners, it’s a chance for somebody else to step up.”