Paul Lusk, associate head coach at Purdue University, has been named Missouri State University’s 17th men’s basketball head coach. The terms of the agreement are still being finalized, but the parties have agreed in principle to a five-year contract which will be approved by the Board of Governors in May.
Lusk and his family came to Springfield Friday and met with Missouri State President James E. Cofer, Sr., and Board members. The new coach met with Bears’ players late Friday night. .
“Paul is a quality person, an excellent coach and will be a tremendous addition to Missouri State and the Springfield community,” said MSU Director of Athletics Kyle Moats. “He is a proven winner and has had success at every level. I know our fans will embrace Paul and his family as part of the Bears’ family and make them feel at home right away.”
The 40-year-old is a native of New Baden, Ill., and spent the last seven seasons as an assistant coach at Purdue. When Cuonzo Martin accepted the Missouri State job in 2008, Lusk was promoted to the Purdue associate head coach position under Matt Painter. In the summer of 2010, he was named by FoxSports.com as one of the nation’s top 25 high-major assistant coaches.
He has helped guide Purdue to five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances with a collective 129-45 ledger during that span. He first came to West Lafayette in 2004-05 as an assistant under then-coach Gene Keady and stayed on board at Purdue when Painter took the coaching reigns in 2005-06.
A 1995 graduate of Southern Illinois, Lusk and his wife Melanie have a daughter, Madison, and a son, Jackson. The couple both earned their Masters of Science in Education from Missouri State in December 2000.
Before moving to Purdue, he spent one season on Painter’s staff at Southern Illinois in 2003-04, a campaign that also culminated in an NCAA Tournament berth, a peak national ranking at No. 15 and a 25-5 overall finish. Prior to that, he spent one season as head coach at Division III Dubuque (Iowa) University with a 2-23 record. His head coaching debut came on the heels of three seasons at Missouri Southern State in Joplin where he was an assistant under coach Robert Corn. The Lions were 71-21 in that span (1999-2002) with an NCAA Division II Tournament appearance in 1999-2000. His coaching career began with a one-year stint as an assistant coach at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville where coach Jay Harrington’s Blue Storm finished 19-12.
His collegiate playing career began in 1990-91 at Iowa before he found a home at SIU under coach Rich Herrin. He helped guide the Salukis to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances (1993-95), earning All-Missouri Valley Conference second-team honors in 1993-94. His 15.2 scoring average as a junior set the stage for an equally-impressive senior campaign in which he earned a spot on the MVC Scholar-Athlete and All-Tournament teams. He finished his career in Carbondale with 1,031 career points.
Lusk played professionally both in the United States and in Argentina after his collegiate playing days, earning two different invitations to the Phoenix Suns’ training camp.
Missouri State’s new sideline boss replaces Martin, who resigned on March 27 to accept the top post at Tennessee. Martin was 61-41 in three seasons with the Bears with postseason trips to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament in 2010 and the National Invitation Tournament in 2011 along with Missouri State’s first ever Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title in 2010-11.