MEMPHIS — “I know I got big shoes to fill but I’m ready.”
Those were the words from 12-year NBA veteran Bonzi Wells Friday after the former Memphis Grizzly was named as just the fourth Men’s head basketball coach ever at LeMoyne-Owen.
For Wells, it will be his first college coaching job, taking over a Magicians program with a storied history under the late, great Jerry Johnson, who won 821 games and led LeMoyne-Owen to what is still the only college basketball Men’s National Championship ever won in the state of Tennessee, back in 1975.
It’s that legacy left by Coach Johnson and a desire to return to Memphis, where he played for the Grizzlies from 2003-2005, that made this the perfect job for Wells.
“It’s the city and the people. That’s what started out for me. I could have went anywhere in the world but when they said Memphis. The opportunity was in Memphis, I jumped to it because I’ve been here. The people showed me so much love playing down here. Just excited,” Wells said. “Got a chance to meet my team today and just looking at them kids with the stars in their eyes, just really gave me goosebumps and get me ready to work.”
How much does Memphis still mean to Wells?
He still has the same phone number from his days with the Grizzlies. Once from the 901, always from the 901.
“To be able to come back and give back to the city of Memphis and to an HBCU, it means a lot to me. I take it very seriously and I’m looking forward to put boots on the ground and start grinding.
Wells perfect for Memphis.
Perfect for LeMoyne-Owen where his first game as head coach of the Magicians will be an exhibition game against the University of Memphis and Wells’ NBA brothers, Tigers coach Penny Hardaway and his new assistant, Rasheed Wallace. Wells and Wallace were teammates with the Portland Trailblazers.