The Illinois basketball support staff took an unexpected hit late last week. Stephen Gentry, a Special Assistant to the Head Coach, will leave the Fighting Illini after just a few months on the job to rejoin the Gonzaga Bulldogs as their Director of Basketball Operations.
Brad Underwood tweeted the above statement after news of this departure broke.
“Wishing all the best for Stepehn Gentry as he returns home to Gonzaga to become Director of Basketball Operations for Coach Few. Stephen played a big part in our success at Stephen F. Austin and Oklahoma State and in the transition here at Illinois. But he also has very strong ties to his alma mater, and I understand and fully support his decision to reconnect with the University he attended and the coaching staff he played for.
Gonzaga is getting a great basketball mind, a tireless worker, and an exceptional person. Thank you Stephen for all you have done for me and the players you have served these past four years. We will miss you and Leah and Svea, but know you’ll enjoy being back in Spokane.”
Gentry really seemed to play a big role on Underwood’s support staff, so this loss does sting a little bit, especially with the ongoing transition into a new job. Having said that, the timing of this change is about as good as it was going to get. The beginning of the season is still a few months away, and at this point, Summer plans have already been made for player workouts, events, and traveling.
There’s plenty of time for Underwood to find a quality replacement. It’s silly to speculate potential candidates for a position like this, so let’s just hope the eventual hire can step right without missing a beat.