April 5, 2000
KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University head men's basketball coach Robert McCullum announced the hiring of Lorenzo Neely (Michigan) and Clayton Bates (Jacksonville) to his staff Tuesday morning.
McCullum, named to the head coaching position on March 15 after most recently working under Lon Kruger at the University of Illinois, still has one more full-time coaching position to fill in order to complete his staff.
"The trait that impressed me most about both of the individuals was their willingness to grow in all aspects of the job," McCullum said. "They have a great feel for the game and possess what it takes to lead this program in a new direction."
Neely joins the program after serving for the past two seasons (1999-2000) at Michigan under head coach Brian Ellerbe. Prior to Ann Arbor, the Detroit native served in a similar position at his alma mater Eastern Michigan (1997-98) for two campaigns. Neely was a four-year letterwinner (1988-91) for the Eagles during his career. He was the Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year in 1987-88, helping EMU to its first-ever MAC Championship and NCAA Tournament berth. As a senior, he was named to the All-MAC First Team and once again helped EMU to the NCAA's, advancing all the way to the Sweet 16.
"I am looking forward to getting back to the MAC," Neely said. "Western Michigan is a great opportunity and I am looking forward to becoming involved with not only the program, but the community as well."
McCullum and Neely initially met at the Black Coaches Association convention in 1997 and became opponents in the Big 10 when Neely moved on to Michigan.
"Lorenzo possesses a true passion for the game," McCullum said. "He has gained a great deal of experience as both a player and a coach and will be able to help the Broncos reach new heights."
Bates played for McCullum at the University of Florida (1993-96) and later worked for one season as the men's basketball administrative assistant at Illinois (1997). As a player, Bates was a member of the Gators' Final Four squad in 1994 and 1995 NCAA Tournament team a year later. A walk-on who later earned a scholarship, the Gainesville, Fla., native was named UF's Most Inspirational Player following the 1992-93 season. He was just the seventh Florida student-athlete to be named to the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll on three occasions.
Following his one-year stint at Illinois, Bates was hired at Jacksonville University as a full-time assistant, a position he had held the previous three seasons. While working with the Dolphins, he was responsible for all aspects of the day-to-day operation of the program, with the exception of off-campus recruiting.
"Obviously I am very familiar with Coach McCullum and have a great deal of confidence and trust in his ability to lead the program forward," Bates said.
Both Neely and Bates will arrive in Kalamazoo by the end of the week and begin work on the upcoming campaign, which starts with the late signing period next week.
Media contact: Scott Kuykendall; 616 387-4138; firstname.lastname@example.org
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