Athletic Director Martin Newton revealed his confidence in new men’s basketball coach Scott Padgett’s ability to strengthen the program and engage Samford students in a recent press conference.
Samford named Padgett the new men’s basketball coach in June 2014. Prior to five years of assistant coaching, Padgett had an outstanding basketball career at the University of Kentucky and played eight years in the NBA.
Padgett was an assistant coach at Kentucky while Newton was Kentucky’s director of basketball operations. Newton immediately recognized Padgett’s humility and dedication.
“I knew Scott wanted to be a coach,” Newton said. “I knew his work ethic, and I knew how he treated people. I think he’s going to be really good.”
But Padgett did not step into an easy position. In the past two seasons, 14 players left Samford under former head coach Bennie Seltzer, said Joey Mullins, an assistant director of athletics. That number included five of Samford’s top six top scorers.
“Very rarely as a new coach do you come into a good situation,” Padgett said.
Now Padgett is leading the recruiting staff to focus on players who want to be at Samford all four years.
“We’ve got a lot of great things at Samford,” Padgett said, “and if you don’t see yourself here for four years, this school isn’t for you.”
Not only is Padgett asking recruits to commit to Samford basketball, but he is asking fans to be committed as well.
“It’s funny—I would say the top five crowds we’ve had here since I’ve been here, they’ve all been big games, and we won them all.”
Padgett wants to engage students with a competition among Greek life. Students can sign-in at games under their fraternity or sorority name. The organization with the most attendees throughout the season will receive $1,000. If at least 100 attendees come, the organization will receive $100.
The competition starts at the men’s first home game on Wednesday, Nov. 19, against Austin Peay. Samford will host several special events later in the season with prizes and giveaways.
Senior forward and exercise science major Tyler Hood said he is confident in Padgett’s leadership for the program.
“Samford basketball is definitely heading in the right direction,” Hood said. “Every time you go through a transition, it takes some growing pains, but in seeing Coach Padgett’s passion and his direction for the future, we’re absolutely on the right track.”