The first branch on Isaac Brown’s coaching tree is as sturdy as they come.
Brown, elevated last week to interim head coach at Wichita State, announced that former Texas A&M boss Billy Kennedy will be joining his staff as an assistant coach.
“I’m excited to welcome Billy to our basketball family,” Brown said. “He has been a mentor of mine for over 30 years and has proven himself as a coach at the highest levels. His experience and teaching ability will help our young team.”
Kennedy is expected to be on the bench for Wednesday’s season opener in Sioux Falls, S.D.
“I am excited about the opportunity to be part of a new season at Wichita State,” Kennedy said. “The chance to work alongside Coach Brown and invest in these young men is a blessing.”
Kennedy brings 34 years of Division I coaching experience to the Shocker bench, including more than two decades as a head coach at Texas A&M (2011-19), Murray State (2006-11), Southeastern Louisiana (1999-05) and Centenary (1997-99).
Before his first head coaching job at Centenary, the Metairie, La., native spent 11 seasons as an assistant coach at seven Division I schools, including Texas A&M for the 1990-91 season. Brown was his starting point guard that year.
Other stops for Kennedy include New Orleans (1986-87), Wyoming (1987-88), Northwestern State (1988-89), Tulane (1989-90), Creighton (1991-93) and California (1993-97).
Combined, Kennedy has been a part of over 550 wins, including a 361-294 mark as head coach.
Kennedy, 56, has won conference coach of the year awards across three different leagues: the Southland (2004), the Ohio Valley (2010 & 2011) and most recently the SEC (2016).
He has coached three different programs to the NCAA tournament, highlighted by a pair of Sweet 16 seasons in College Station (2016 & 2018).
That 2016 trip was made possible by one of the greatest comebacks in NCAA tournament history. The Aggies trailed Northern Iowa by 12 points with 42 seconds left in regulation but rallied to win the game in double-overtime.
In 2005, Kennedy led Southeastern Louisiana to its first-ever NCAA appearance and a school-record 24 wins. Likewise, he took Murray State to new heights in 2010 with a school-record 31 wins and notched the Racers’ first NCAA victory in 22 years with an upset of No. 4 Vanderbilt.
Kennedy has also been an assistant coach on five other NCAA tournament squads. He helped Cal to three trips in four years, culminating in a 1997 Sweet 16 run, and also danced with New Orleans (1987) and Wyoming (1988).
As an assistant at Cal, Kennedy signed and coached future NBA All-Star Shareef Abdur-Rahim and NFL Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez. The Bears’ 1993-94 team was led by another future NBA great, Jason Kidd.
Kennedy has a long history of success on the recruiting trail. At Texas A&M he signed 10 ESPN top-100 players, including four in his 2015 class, which ranked as high as No. 6 nationally.
Under Kennedy’s watch, Robert Williams was a two-time SEC defensive player of the year and selected No. 27 overall by the Boston Celtics in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Kennedy’s first Texas A&M squad was led by Khris Middleton, a two-time NBA All-Star who currently plays for the Milwaukee Bucks.
At Murray State, Kennedy signed two-time OVC Player of the Year and No. 34 overall pick, Isaiah Canaan.
Kennedy received his Bachelor of Arts degree in social studies education from Southeastern Louisiana University in 1986.
A class act off the court, as well, Kennedy was presented with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ 2011 John Lotz “Barnabas” Award at the Final Four in Houston. The award is presented by the FCA to a basketball coach who best exhibits a commitment to Christ, integrity, encouragement to others and living a balanced life.
Kennedy is married to the former Mary Ethredge, and he has four children: Will, Lexie, Brooks and Anna Cate.