Midwestern State hires Leslie for men’s basketball program

Midwestern State hires Leslie for men’s basketball program
Midwestern State's new men's basketball coach, Justin Leslie

WICHITA FALLS, TX (TNN) - Midwestern State University has named Justin Leslie as the new men’s basketball coach.

Leslie has spent the past 12 years as the head coach at his alma mater of Azusa Pacific University.

As head coach, Leslie has compiled a 266-121 overall record, including a 65-30 record in the program’s first three years of active NCAA membership, which include a pair of Pacific West Conference regular-season championships.

Leslie led the Cougars to the NCAA DII Elite Eight in their first season of postseason eligibility.

Leslie inherits a Midwestern State program which advanced to the NCAA Division II postseason tournament in nine out of 10 seasons from 2006-16 posting at least 22 wins in each campaign.

The Mustangs won three consecutive South Central Region titles (2010, 2011, 2012) during the run which also included seven Lone Star Conference championships.

The Mustangs, however, posted a combined 51 losses over the past three seasons and failed to qualify for the Lone Star Conference postseason tournament for the first time since 2008 this season leading to Nelson Haggerty’s resignation.

Leslie faced a similar challenge of upholding the reputation of a small college powerhouse at Azusa Pacific after taking over for his coach and mentor Bill Odell, who amassed 454 wins in 16 seasons before announcing his retirement in 2007.

He extended the Cougars’ run of 20 -win ledgers registering at least 24 victories in each of his first five seasons at the helm.

Then, Azusa Pacific made the jump from the NAIA ranks to NCAA Division II through the tough Pacific West Conference.

During the provisional seasons, Leslie’s teams boasted marks of 13-14 in 2012-13 and 17-10 in 2013-14 to set up consecutive league title runs in 2014-15 and 2015-16.

In total, the Cougars own 20-win campaigns in four of five seasons as a full NCAA Division II member.

Leslie has been directly involved with the Azusa Pacific men’s basketball program for all but one year since 1996 as a student-athlete, assistant coach and head coach.

He graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in marketing in 2000 before earning an MBA during his final season of play at Azusa Pacific in 2001.

Justin and his wife, Joy, also an Azusa Pacific alum, have two daughters -- Jill and Jenna -- and a son, Jaren.

COLLEGIATE PLAYING CAREER: Leslie competed as a 6-8 center at Azusa Pacific form 1996-2001.

He is one of just five players in Golden State Athletic Conference history to play on four conference championship teams.

Leslie averaged 8.6 points and 4.8 rebounds while setting the school’s single season (88) and career (168) records for blocked shots. As a senior in 2001, he averaged 12.4 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds while leading Azusa Pacific to a program-best 35-3 record.

In all, Leslie was a key member of teams which posted a 127-22 record (.852) during his playing career.

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