For the first time in 13 years, Western Carolina has a new head men’s basketball coach. Director of Athletics Randy Eaton introduced Mark Prosser as the 18th head coach of Western Carolina men’s basketball at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.
”Speaking with those in the college basketball industry who know the business better than I, or those who simply watch televised games, Mark’s name continued to come up,” Eaton said. “Essentially, this is a slam dunk for WCU men’s basketball.”
Former head coach Larry Hunter stepped down a day after Western Carolina’s Soutern Conference quarterfinal round loss to Furman. The Catamounts finished 12-19 overall and 8-10 in conference. Through 13 seasons with Western Carolina and 38 overall, he finished with 702 career wins.
Hunter led the Catamounts to two postseason tournament appearances and a pair of Southern Conference divisional titles in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
Prosser, son of the late Skip Prosser, is set to take the reins after spending the past six seasons at Winthrop as the associate head coach.
Prosser is no stranger to the Southern Conference, having spent time at Wofford under Mike Young in two different stints, sandwiching some time at Bucknell. The 2002-03 season was Young’s first at the helm of Wofford, and the Terriers were just starting to build their brand in the Southern Conference.
“This coaching profession can kind of take you all over the country and I knew upon our arrival here that this was the natural next step for us, and that we were home,” Prosser said Tuesday.
Prosser also made clear the style of play he wants to employ on both ends of the floor.
“On offense, you’re going to feel us and on defense you’re going to feel us,” he said. “You’re going to have felt you have played Western Carolina.”
At Bucknell, Prosser helped lead the Bison to some historic success, including a 2004-05 Patriot League championship and one of the NCAA Tournament’s most memorable upsets, shocking No. 3 seed Kansas. A year later, he was part of a staff that went 14-0 in Patriot League play, and earned as high as a No. 24 ranking in the Associated Press poll and garnered a No. 9 seed in the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
The Bison opened the 2006 NCAA Tournament with a win over No. 8 seeded Arkansas before losing to top-seeded Memphis. The Bison finished the 2005-06 season with a 27-5 record. Prosser served under the mentorship of Pat Flannery during his time with the Bison.
In 2008, Prosser’s career came full circle, as he returned to Wofford, where he once again served under Young, helping the Terriers to some of their most memorable successes as a college basketball program.
The Terriers claimed their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance a year after Prosser’s return, as Wofford went 26-9 and won its first of what would be consecutive Southern Conference Tournament titles.
After four seasons at Wofford and having helped the program to a school-record 26 wins in 2009-10 and an inaugural NCAA Tournament appearance as a Division I member, Prosser moved on to the head coaching ranks for the first time in his career, taking the reins of Brevard College for the 2011-12 season. In his one season at Brevard, the Tornadoes struggled to a 5-23 overall record and just a 4-14 record in the South Atlantic Conference.
Following just one season at Brevard, Prosser decided to return to the Division I ranks, joining Pat Kelsey’s staff at Winthrop, where he was the associate head coach. Kelsey was a former assistant under Skip Prosser at Xavier.
After becoming Kelsey’s right-hand man, Prosser helped the Eagles to a regular-season title in 2015-16, and a regular-season and tournament title in 2016-17. The Eagles finished the 2017-18 season with a 19-14 record and a third place, 12-6 mark in the Big South Conference.
Prosser became the second former Wofford assistant coach under Young to graduate to the Division I head coaching ranks, joining Presbyterian’s Dustin Kerns, who will be entering his second season as the head coach of the Blue Hose in 2018-19.