Fil-American coach Mike Magpayo is the latest recipient of the annual Joe B. Hall award by CollegeInsider.com after steering the UC Riverside Highlanders to a historic campaign in the Big West Conference.
The award is given to the best rookie head coach in NCAA Division 1 college basketball. It is named after the former Kentucky coach, who mentored the team from 1972-85.
Magpayo, who was named head coach of the Highlanders in July 2020, credited his coaching staff and players for the team's success.
"I've been very blessed this year on and off the court," Magpayo told ESPN5 in a short message. "But, I've been carried by my tremendous coaching staff and amazing group of players, these young men that represent the University of California Riverside. They are the great story, to post the best season in school history and to still want much, much more, is a great place to coach. I'm proud of our team and hungry for more.
Magpayo, the first Asian-American to coach in the NCAA Division 1, helped steer the Highlanders to a 14-8 record, winning 63.6% of his games, the best in the school's history since joining Division 1 hoops.
"Dealing with the pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding the future of athletics at UC Riverside, Mike Magpayo led the program to an historic season," said Angela Lento of CollegeInsider.com. "Coach Magpayo's attention to detail and leadership are second to none. He's a star in the profession."
The team placed third in the Big West standings, also its best finish ever. UC Riverside entered the Big West Tournament semis for the second time since 2011 after toppling no. 6 Hawai'i in the quarters.
Nationally, UCR ranked 28th in points allowed (63.6 ppg) and 23rd in opposing field goal percentage (40.2%). The team also had the best perimeter defense in the Big West, allowing only 31.8% of opposing triples.
Hall succeeded the legendary Adolph Rupp, and won an NCAA national title in 1978. He also led the program to the Final Four twice, eight SEC regular season titles, and one SEC tournament title.
Magpayo beat out seven other nominees for the distinction.