MEET UC SANTA CRUZ HEAD COACH RON DUBOIS

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When UCSC Men's Basketball Coach Gordon Johnson stepped down after 10 years, the job opening for the DIII position seemingly wouldn't be a coveted one. After all, coaching the Slugs is not akin to being at UCLA let alone St. Mary's or Long Beach State. 

But then again, there are only so many opportunities to operate your own program and how many of those offer the chance to live in a beach town and be on one of the more beautiful campuses anywhere?

Hordes applied for the opening and the person who was selected possessed a background as a NBA assistant coach.

Meet Ron DuBois.

A former point guard at Lodi High who walked on until earning a scholarship at Arizona State, DuBois has also worked for the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns as well as at Rhodes College in Tennessee, UC Davis, the Chico Force of the International Basketball League, the Tijuana Galgos, the Antigua and Barbuda national basketball team, the Phoenix Mercury of the Women's National Basketball Association and Paris Basket Racing of the Fédération Internationale de Basketball.

So he has seen and experienced the widest of hoops spectrums, having been at basketball's pinnacle but also where funding and luxury were not prevalent.

"When I was young, I wanted to do something as a profession that I enjoy doing," DuBois recalled.

That proved prophetic.

Now if there is such a thing as an original inspirer, for DuBois that would be current St. Mary's (Stockton) High Coach Ken Green. The result: "[as my coach] he was a mentor and that really effected me."

Then when DuBois began as a manager at Arizona State while a student there, "I was doing pre-season conditioning and out there doing drills and at the first day of practice, they threw me a uniform."

As a senior, he captained the Sun Devils. 

"I always thought I was better than I was, I call it irrationally confident."

During his tenure in Tempe, he played under Bill Frieder, then Don Newman and finally Rob Evans. That took adapting to three different systems but was part of the learning curve that proliferated his hoops knowledge.

After graduating and then earning his master's, DuBois realized "going overseas and playing wasn't my calling card."

To further demonstrate the wide array of coaches he has worked under, try head coaches Scott Skiles and then Frank Johnson when DuBois worked as a video coordinator for the Phoenix Suns right after college. In one of those seasons, the assistant coaching staff consisted of Mike D'Antoni, Mark Iavaroni and Tim Grgurich. The learning from such a group, just by osmosis alone, was off-the-charts.

Thus began his peripatetic journeys throughout North America and overseas.

So why UCSC now?

"I love DIII. It's the original model and the purest form of college basketball, with no scholarships and putting academics first."

UCSC is a NCAA DIII Independent. They compete against other DIII independent institutions, and institutions that are members of conferences that do not meet the requirements for an automatic qualification. The team with the best DIII record earns the Pool B bid to the NCAA Tournament.

DuBois is optimistic for the 2013-14 season. "We can schedule a maximum of 25 games and we want to play as many of those games as we can against DIII opponents." 

So how does a coach who can't offer athletic scholarships recruit?

"We do as much recruiting as our budget allows. We go out and look for guys that will be a good fit to the culture we are building."

That's another element.

Not everyone who applies for entry into UCSC is accepted. DuBois may have a possible tremendous recruiting class lined up but it can also easily be decimated by the high standards of the UCSC admissions process. 

"We also do elite camps," DuBois explained. "If they (prospective student-athletes] comes to a camp here, then they are demonstrating interest. That's a good sign, and we feel once on campus they quickly realize how special and unique UC Santa Cruz is."

He added, "We stress going to a place that's best for you. By visiting different places you get the opportunity to feel connected to the campus, the program and the academics of the school."

As to what he is looking for in recruits, DuBois answered, "good character guys, toughness and basketball IQ."

Growing up in Lodi, DuBois remembers coming to Santa Cruz during the summers. Now he is living and working here and realizing his dream.