Ford selects Will Bailey as first member of basketball staff

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Ford selects Will Bailey as first member of basketball staff

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On Friday, April 8, new men’s basketball head coach Travis Ford named Will Bailey as the first member of his coaching staff.

Bailey, a Chicago native, joins the Billiken team as an assistant coach after serving the last six years on the staff at La Salle. The decision to leave La Salle was influenced both by the potential of working with Ford and St. Louis’ proximity to his hometown.

“I saw an opportunity to work with Coach Ford, he’s a great coach and does a great job, so it was the opportunity to learn from him, as well,” said Bailey. “The opportunity to get back closer to home really excites me most, and the ability to recruit from Chicago—that’s where, really, most of my contacts are from.”

During his tenure at La Salle, Bailey helped coach the Explorers to a run in the NCAA tournament, where they made it to the Sweet 16, snapping a 20-year tournament drought.

Bailey was known for developing the Explorers’ backcourt through his work with guards Earl Pettis, the A-10’s Most Improved Player of the Year in 2011-12, Ramon Galloway (A-10 first team 2012-13) and Tyreek Duren (A-10 second team 2012-13 and 2013-14).

While Bailey’s coaching role at La Salle was primarily focused on the development of guards, he said that it is still being determined how he will operate alongside Ford and the rest of the staff here at SLU.

“Right now, we’re still in the process of trying to get to know the team and Coach Ford is trying to figure out the staff.  We’ve still got a couple of spots to fill on the staff,” said Bailey.

“I know he’s real big with the guards as well, because he played a guard position. I’m just anxious and excited to learn from him. I’m here—whatever he needs me to do, I’ll do it.”

In addition to his history of developing guards and his recruitment connections in Chicago, Bailey believes his experience within the conference is another asset he brings to the coaching staff.

“I’ve been in the conference for six years and we played every single team. I think having a feel and a pulse on each team and kind of what they do, what their strengths are and what their weaknesses are [is important],” said Bailey.

“For the most part, just having a good feel for the way each team plays and knowing how we can defend them [is the focus].”

Before his time at La Salle, Bailey spent seven seasons as an assistant coach at Eastern Tennessee State University. He helped lead the Buccaneers to six Southern Conference titles, three NCAA Tournament berths and an NIT appearance. Bailey also served one-year stints at Maine (2002-03) and Chicago State (2001-02.)

Bailey played at the University of Alabama-Birmingham for two years. As a senior, he led the team in assists, and helped his team to an NIT appearance as UAB’s top defensive player that season.

It was also at UAB where Bailey’s coaching career began. The team made an appearance in the NCAA tournament while he was on staff.

Now, Bailey is focused on the future of the men’s basketball program at SLU.

“I think that SLU is a sleeping giant. I think that this is a program that has had a lot of success in the past,” said Bailey.

“We have a vision to build a championship-type program and the goal, obviously, is to win the Atlantic 10 Conference and Championship and get to the tournament and try to make a run to the Final Four. I think that this is a program that has the ability to do that.”

While Bailey admits that this change won’t happen overnight, he is confident that with Ford at the helm, the Billikens will make a return as a top-tier team.

He added, “Coach Ford is a great coach, he’s a winner. He’s won everywhere he’s been, and he’s going to bring that winning mentality here.