LITTLE ROCK — Little Rock’s Trojans have hired a Little Rock man to coach what they now team "Little Rock’s team."
Wes Flanigan was introduced Thursday as the new coach for Little Rock University’s men’s basketball team. to replace Chris Beard, who resigned last week to take a similar job at UNLV.
"As someone who was born and raised in Little Rock, this is a dream come true," Flanigan said.
With Flanigan serving as associate head coach, Little Rock established program records for wins (30), Sun Belt wins (17) and road wins (12) last season. The Trojans won their first-ever outright Sun Belt Conference Championship in the regular season before winning the league’s postseason tournament for the second time.
"Wes brings a wealth of experience, strong recruiting ties and a tireless work ethic to this position," Conque said. "He has all the necessary tools to build on the momentum of Little Rock basketball, and is determined to build Trojan basketball into a championship-caliber program year in and year out."
Little Rock’s win over Purdue was the program’s second NCAA Tournament win, and first in three decades. The Trojans became the first team in Sun Belt Conference history to win 30 games in a season.
Flanigan joined UAB as an assistant coach in 2008-09. Over two seasons in Birmingham, the Blazers won 47 games and made two NIT appearances. In 2009-10, the Blazers went 25-9 to match a program record for victories before reaching the quarterfinals of the NIT.
"He’s a relentless worker – that’s the way he played and that’s the way he coaches," said Mike Davis, former UAB head coach and current head coach at Texas Southern.
"He coached with me at UAB and he gave great effort and had a great understanding and feel for the game of basketball. He was a point guard when he played, and his basketball IQ has carried over into his coaching."
Flanigan was an assistant at Nebraska for two seasons (2010-12) before serving on Rick Ray’s staff at Mississippi State from 2012-15.
"Wes Flanigan is the most genuine person that I have had the pleasure to work with in our profession," Ray said.
"Wes has a sincere interest in the welfare of student-athletes. He has a tremendous rapport with players, high school and AAU coaches, and is well-respected in all circles."
Flanigan joined the Trojans in 2004 after five seasons as an assistant at Northwest Mississippi Community College. During his time at Northwest, Flanigan was named the 1992-93 Gatorade High School Player of the Year in Arkansas while playing for Charles Ripley and his father, Al, at Little Rock Parkview High School.
"I’m the happiest man in Little Rock," said Ripley, current coach at Arkansas Baptist College. "He played for me and was a great player. His dad (AL) was my assistant coach, just like another head coach. The main things are that Wes’ integrity, work ethic, relationships with young people and his ability to evaluate and recruit talent all earn high marks."
He went on to earn four letters at Auburn (1993-97), where he was All-SEC as a junior and team co-captain for three seasons. He finished his college career averaging 10.1 points, 4.8 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game.
"I think Little Rock has gotten a gem," Cliff Ellis, Flanigan’s head coach at Auburn and current head coach at Coastal Carolina, said.
"This guy knows the game and understands the game. It’s been bred into him by his family. He understands the state of Arkansas and is constantly studying the game. He’s got it all – he understands the game, is a great recruiter and understands all the parts of the job that come with it."