Midwestern State coach Nelson Haggerty was named as one of 10 finalists for the Clarence "Big House" Gaines National Coach of the Year award as released Thursday by CollegeInsider.com.
The first-year head coach led MSU to its third consecutive trip to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight after claiming its third South Central Region championship and its sixth Lone Star Conference title. The Mustangs finished the campaign with a 29-4 mark.
Haggerty spent the previous two seasons serving as the top assistant to Grant McCasland and played a key role in helping the Mustangs to their first two Elite Eight appearances in 2010 and 2011.
Before making the move to Midwestern, Haggerty served as an assistant to Kim Anderson at Central Missouri where he aided the Mules to a Final Four showing in 2007 and another Elite Eight appearance in 2009.
Other finalists for the award include Alabama-Huntsville's Lennie Acuff, Northern Kentucky's Dave Bezold, West Liberty's Jim Crutchfield, Bellarmine's Scott Davenport, Shaw (N.C.)'s Cleo Hill, Jr., Western Washington's Brad Jackson, Kentucky Wesleyan's Todd Lee, Northwest Missouri's Ben McCollum and Colorado Mines' Pryor Orser.
One of the true basketball coaching legends, Clarence Gaines retired from Winston-Salem State in 1993 as the then-winningest basketball coach in NCAA history with a record of 828-446.
During his 47-year tenure as coach and athletic director at WSSU, he mentored a pair of professional basketball greats in Cleo Hill, the first player from a historically black college to be drafted No. 1 in the NBA by the St. Louis Hawks in 1961 and Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, a Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame member.
The winner will be announced at the CollegeInsider.com awards banquet on March 30 in New Orleans, the site of the men's NCAA Basketball Championship.
Midwestern State's season came to an end this week, but one former Mustang star is still competing for a title.
Chris Hagan is playing for the Halifax Rainmen of Canada's National Basketball League, and his team is in the League finals against the London (Ontario) Lightning.
Thursday night he scored 16 points and added six assists to help the Rainmen tie the best-of-five series at two games all in a 93-85 win.
In the playoffs, Hagan is averaging 16.7 points and 4.4 assists.