Separate paths, same commitment lead new assistant basketball coaches to Pacific

Coach Clay Wilson

Clay Wilson joins Pacific from Texas Tech where he served as director of player development. 

Four new assistant coaches have joined University of the Pacific from around the United States and Canada to work with head coach Dave Smart as he ushers in a new era of men’s basketball.

Smart, widely regarded as the most successful Canadian college basketball coach of all time, was named head coach in March. He has since announced the hires of Clay Wilson, Craig Beaucamp, Garrett Bridges and Myke Scholl as assistant coaches.

Clay Wilson

Smart spent last season as assistant coach at Texas Tech where he worked closely with Wilson, who served as Director of Player Development. The two were tasked with concentrating on the offense and helped the Red Raiders advance to the NCAA Tournament with a 23-11 record.

“Coach Smart and I got to know each other well at Texas Tech with all the hours we spent working on offensive principles and scouting other teams,” Wilson said. “Our offices were next to each other, and we spent so much time together that we joked about knocking the wall down between us.”

After Smart accepted the head coach position, Wilson was immediately drawn to Pacific, not only for the opportunity to continue coaching alongside Smart but also for the Ivy League feel.

“The campus reminds me a lot of my alma mater Princeton. We have the same school colors with the orange and black, the same mascot with the Tigers and the campus itself has brick buildings and shade with the trees,” Wilson said.

“There are similarities, and when my mom and brother came to visit here, they actually said the same thing. Even some of the facilities like the softball field look almost identical to Princeton’s.”

Coach Craig Beaucamp

Craig Beaucamp spent the last 21 seasons as coach of the basketball program at the University of Victoria.

Craig Beaucamp

Beaucamp, a fellow Canadian coach, also has a strong relationship with Smart, coaching with and against him. He has spent the last 21 seasons as coach of the basketball program at the University of Victoria.

“In the 80 or so games I coached against him, we always kept a close professional relationship, and we always held a high level of respect toward each other,” Beaucamp said. “I’ve gotten to know his family well over the many years, and he’s gotten to know my family as well.

“There were times when I’d stay at his house for weeks when we were coaching together on Team Canada. We were very like-minded and always enjoyed the time we had together.”

Like Wilson, Beaucamp saw an immediate appeal for himself at Pacific when Smart joined the Tigers.

“Coaching together in America was something Coach Smart and I talked about years ago. We didn’t know if it would happen, but we always wanted to coach at the highest level of college basketball, and it doesn’t get any higher than NCAA Division I. It’s the best college basketball in the world,” Beaucamp said, adding that being on the west coast was also a big draw.

“I can hop on a 90-minute flight to Vancouver, remain in the same time zone and stay close to my family, which is still in Victoria,” he said. “I wouldn’t have just gone anywhere in the country to coach, but Pacific felt like the perfect opportunity for me.”

Garrett Bridges

Bridges comes to Pacific from North Carolina where he spent the last five seasons as an assistant coach at North Carolina Central University. Prior to that he served as a graduate assistant at the University of Houston.

A mentor of Bridges from Houston (assistant coach K.C. Beard) helped connect him with Smart.

“Before this year’s Final Four, I got a call from Coach Beard saying a good friend of his got the head coaching job at Pacific and he could help me at least have a conversation with him,” Bridges said. “I ended up meeting Coach Smart and Coach Wilson at the Final Four and had great talks with them.”

After learning more about Smart from Beard and University of Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson, Bridges said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

“The way they spoke about him, and the trust that I had in my own mentors made it an easy decision for me,” Bridges said. “I’m excited about working at Pacific on this beautiful campus and coaching in the West Coast Conference. It’s a multi-bid league into the NCAA Tournament and it’s only getting stronger, especially with Washington State and Oregon State coming in.”

Myke Scholl

Similar to Bridges, Scholl met Smart and Wilson at the Final Four. Scholl, a Sacramento native, spent the last 16 seasons coaching Division I basketball in California with the last 10 at Long Beach State and the previous six at Loyola Marymount University.

“I’ve always been very familiar with Pacific and had a lot of friends from high school who attended here. My close friend Willie Tatum played basketball here, and I crossed paths with Pacific in the Big West and West Coast Conferences as a former student-athlete at Sacramento State. I also coached against Pacific when I was at LMU,” Scholl said.

After the 2023-24 season, Scholl received offers from other schools and had an NBA opportunity but wanted to stay in California. The chance to work with Smart was a key reason.

“When Coach Smart was looking for someone for my position, he was looking for a California guy and his contacts referred him to me,” Scholl said. “Everyone I talked with sang praises about Coach Smart, and after a month or two of working with him, I can see why. His creativity and knowledge of the game made this a no-brainer.”

Scholl said the basketball staff has already created a strong bond.

“This isn’t a ‘go your separate ways’ staff. We’re with each other all the time, we’ve eaten nearly every meal together and we’re staying together until the job gets done,” Scholl said. “We’re here to win ball games, and we’re all very excited for the upcoming season.”

The team will host the season opener at the Alex G. Spanos Center Monday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m.