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Sunday, June 27, 2010


Hepp named HeatDevils' new coach

Staff writer

L.J. Hepp, who played junior varsity basketball at the University of North Carolina, is the Oita HeatDevils' new head coach, the bj-league team announced on Friday.

Hepp, who turns 32 in September, served as the director of basketball operations for the University of South Carolina men's basketball team during the 2009-10 season.

After graduating from UNC in 2001, he served as a grad assistant at the school for the next two seasons under then-coach Matt Doherty, gaining valuable experience in what many consider America's premier college basketball conference, the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Then Hepp moved to the West Coast, landing a job for the 2003-04 season as a video coordinator for Stanford's men's team. The next season he was promoted to assistant coach for the Pac-10 Conference team. In both seasons, the first with Mike Montgomery at the helm and the next with Trent Johnson on the sideline, the Cardinal played in the NCAA Tournament.

Hepp earned a master's degree in sports administration from UNC.

He held his first head coaching job from 2006-09 at Panther Creek (N.C.) High School. The boys varsity team grew strong during his tenure, improving from a four-win season in the first year to a 28-3 campaign in his third year as the bench boss, including a spot as the state's No. 1-ranked team in the 4A poll for most of the season, according to published reports.

In 2008-09, Hepp received conference and district coach of the year accolades.

The HeatDevils went 25-27 in 2009-10 under Brian Rowsom, a former NBA forward. But he was not given a contract extension after his lone season at the helm.

Also Friday, Tony Hanson, another former UNC JV player, was named an Oita assistant coach.

Hanson, 27, served a five-season stint a videographer for Wake Forest, another ACC school. He's also been an assistant head coach at Apex High School in North Carolina.

Two other Western Conference teams in the bj-league, the Takamatsu Five Arrows and Osaka Evessa, still have coaching vacancies.

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