Aaron Coombs, left, stands with Director of Athletics Mike Leeder after the announcement that Coombs would become the new head coach at Georgia Southwestern in Americus.

AMERICUS — Georgia Southwestern State University has hired Aaron Coombs as its new head men’s basketball coach, Director of Athletics Mike Leeder announced Monday afternoon.

Coombs comes to GSW from Oklahoma Panhandle State University where he completed his first season at the helm for the Aggies. In his lone season in Goodwell, Coombs guided OPSU to a 16-14 overall record, and the program earned a conference playoff berth for the first time since the 2005-06 season.

“I’m incredibly excited to become the next head basketball coach at Georgia Southwestern,” Coombs said. “The vision of Dr. (Neal) Weaver and AD Mike Leeder have created a culture of excitement, passion and an expectation of winning. I cannot wait to get started and help build a program that follows their lead.”

Coombs took over on OPSU program that was 11-17 in 2017-18 and had just posted double-digit victory totals for the first time since 2002-03. Coombs’ team built on that upswing with another double-digit win season, also going .500 or better for the first time since 2002-03.

“We wanted a coach who would continue to build upon our record of community service, the success we’ve had in the community, the success we’ve had as an athletic department in the classroom,” Leeder said. “But we also want to build on the competitive success on the floor.”

GSW is coming off a 6-22 campaign and Coombs will be challenged with quickly building a roster that graduated seven seniors.

“We want to compete for championships,” Leeder said. “In the time I’ve had a chance to visit with Aaron, I think we’ve shared a similar vision in how we were going to go about getting there.”

The success OPSU had on the court last season earned the attention of postseason voters with an All-America award and four of five starters earning a place on the Sooner Athletic Conference honor role. Coombs had just two scholarship players returning last season when hired at OPSU and was challenged with filling out his 20-man roster.

“My team will be known for their passion,” Coombs said. “Passion for winning, passion for GSW, passion for the community of Americus and passion for the classroom. Every day we will be ‘Passionate about the Process.’ “

Prior to being named the head coach at OPSU, Coombs served in the NCAA Division II ranks at Missouri Western State University from April 2013 to March 2018, where he gained valuable experience that prepared him to lead a program. Coombs was proud to boast 14 student-athletes on honor rolls throughout his time at MWSU. He also served as the chief recruiting coordinator at Missouri Western, signing five MIAA All-Conference players during his tenure. In the course of his five seasons spent with the Griffons, Coombs acted as the lead assistant coach for men’s basketball before acquiring the interim head coach title for a short period of time upon the departure of Brett Weiberg, who spent five season leading the team. Coombs served as the lead assistant coach at Missouri University of Science and Technology during the 2012-2013 season. His coaching career started in 2010 as an assistant at Northern Oklahoma College.

Coombs turned in an impressive NCAA Division I playing career that included two conference championships and NCAA Tournament appearances (2002 & 2003) at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. He started 45 games for UNCW over his four-year career and earned the Colonial Athletic Association Most Improved Player award in 2005. Coombs was named an NSCA Strength and Conditioning All-American in 2004. At the professional level, Coombs spent five years competing in France, Romania and China where he reigned as the leading scorer on all three teams and was named MVP while playing in Shanghai.

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