Courtesy of Charlotte49ers.com
Charlotte, N.C. – Charlotte 49ers head men’s basketball coach Mark Price has announced the hiring Andre Gray as an assistant coach and Tanner Smith as the director of operations. Former Niner Colby Lewis will remain on the coaching staff as the associate director of operations. Nate Dixon remains on the staff as the video coordinator.
Gray, who has 14 years of college coaching experience, comes to Charlotte after spending last season as an assistant coach at Winston-Salem State. Last season, he helped Winston-Salem State win 18 games and reach the championship game of the CIAA Tournament.
“I am extremely excited to add Andre Gray who has been coaching in the state of North Carolina for a long time to the coaching staff,” Charlotte coach Mark Price said. “He has a reputation as a great recruiter and having great relationships with the players that he has coached.”
Prior to joining the Winston-Salem State coaching staff, Gray spent three seasons as assistant coach at UNC Wilmington (2011-14) on Buzz Peterson’s staff. Gray and fellow Charlotte assistant coach Houston Fancher were on the UNC Wilmington’s staff together for the 2013-14 season.
Prior to UNC Wilmington, Gray spent three years (2008-11) as assistant coach at Western Carolina. During his time at Western Carolina, the Catamounts posted three consecutive winning seasons and two Southern Conference North Division titles working for head coach Larry Hunter. He came to Western Carolina, after spending the 2007-08 season as an assistant coach at Gardner-Webb, which posted a 16-16 record that season including a victory at nationally-ranked Kentucky.
Then, Gray spent four years as an assistant coach at Wingate University (2003-07). During his time at Wingate, the Bulldogs earned bids to the 2006 and 2007 NCAA Division II Tournaments after capturing the South Atlantic Conference (SAC) championship both seasons. In 2007, Wingate advanced to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight, capturing the South Atlantic Region crown.
Gray began his coaching career as the head boys’ basketball coach at Clayton Middle School in Clayton, North Carolina. He also served as an assistant coach at J.F. Webb High School in Oxford, N.C before beginning his collegiate coaching experience as an assistant coach for two years at his alma-mater Methodist College. During his time on the Methodist coaching staff, he helped lead the team to a USA South Conference Championship and a 22-6 league record over those two years.
The Elizabethtown, North Carolina native earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education from Methodist College in 1998. Gray played basketball at Methodist from 1995-97. As a senior, he helped Methodist advance to the 1997 Division III Elite Eight. Gray is married to the former Tarius Williams.
“I am extremely honored and blessed to be a member of Coach Price’s staff and to join the Charlotte 49ers community,” Gray said. “The opportunity to re-establish the success that this program has had is exciting. The resources, campus, community and alumni base is second to none and I look forward to doing my part to make this program successful.”
Smith joins the 49ers men’s basketball staff after spending last season as a graduate assistant coach at Mississippi State. Smith, who was a former standout player at Clemson University, came to Mississippi State after a two-year professional career in Europe.
“I am excited to add Tanner Smith to the staff as our director of basketball operations,” Price said. “Tanner is a young man that I have known a long time. He was a tremendous collegiate player who played professional basketball overseas. He has also done tremendous charity work as well. He is a great addition to our staff.”
Smith spent two years overseas playing professional basketball after his career at Clemson was over in 2012. During his collegiate career with the Tigers, Smith appeared in 127 games where he scored 986 points, grabbed 459 rebounds, dished out 320 assists and collected 159 steals en route to helping Clemson earn three bids to the NCAA Tournament.
A 42.9 percent career shooter from the floor, Smith was the first player in Clemson history and the only ACC player in 2012 to average at least 10 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
Smith not only excelled on the court but in the classroom as well. He became only the second player in Clemson history to earn ACC All-Academic honors four times. In 2011, he was awarded the C.J. Spiller Award, which is presented annually to a Clemson student-athlete for excellence in both athletics and academics. Smith graduated from Clemson with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing in 2012.
Smith signed with Clemson following an impressive prep career at Wesleyan School in Norcross, Ga., where he was listed as the 16th best player in the state of Georgia by Rivals.com.
As a pro, he spent one year with Landstede Basketball of the Netherlands, where he earned Dutch League All-Star accolades. He then played one season with MHP Risen Lugwigsburg in Germany before retiring to join the staff at Mississippi State.
Off the court, Smith founded Tanner’s Totes, a non-profit organization that provides care packages and support for kids with cancer.
“I am extremely excited to be a part of the Charlotte 49er basketball tradition,” Smith said. “Learning the game from someone as respected as Coach Price will be an experience I will enjoy each and every day.”