June 29, 2011

SMART ADDS CHRISTIAN, MORRELL TO COACHING STAFF

RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia Commonwealth University men's basketball program welcomed two new members to its family on Wednesday with Head Coach Shaka Smart announcing the additions of Jamion Christian and Michael Morrell to his coaching staff.

Christian comes to the Black & Gold sidelines after spending the past three years at William & Mary, while Morrell will serve as the Director of Basketball Operations and joins the Rams after spending last year as an assistant coach at Charleston Southern.

"We are extremely excited about Jamion and Mike joining our staff," Smart said. "Both are highly talented young coaches, who come from strong backgrounds of success."

A native of New Kent, Va., Christian takes over for Mike Jones, who was named the Head Coach at Radford University last week. In three seasons with the Tribe, he helped usher in a new era of basketball. The Tribe made their second postseason appearance ever in 2010 and recorded the third most wins in school history with 22.

On the recruiting trail, he aided in the Tribe's 2010 recruiting class that was ranked among the best in "Mid-Major" classes in the country and the best in the CAA by ESPN.com and Scouts, Inc. During his time with William & Mary, Christian's main recruiting areas were Virginia, Texas and the Washington, D.C. region.

Prior to his time with the Tribe, he spent two seasons as the Director of Basketball Operations at Bucknell University and two seasons as an assistant coach at Emory & Henry. As a player, Christian was a three-year captain at Mount St. Mary's, scoring nearly 600 points in 90 career games for the Mountaineers.

He earned his degree from Mount St. Mary's in rhetoric and communications in 2004.

 "I am extremely excited, yet humbled with the opportunity to join Coach Smart, his great staff and the VCU community," Christian said. "I am looking forward to continuing in the mission and the standard of greatness that Coach Smart sets for our program each day."

Morrell and Smart have a history together, working side-by-side during the 2007-08 campaign at Clemson on Oliver Purnell's staff. This past season, the Tennessee native was Charleston Southern's academic and scouting coordinator, and handled the recruiting duties in the southern part of the country.

As a part of the VCU basketball family, Morrell will handle the operations side, overseeing team travel, scheduling, supervising the graduate and student managers and much more. He takes over for Kyle Getter, who was named an assistant on Mike Jones' staff at Radford.

Morrell served in the same capacity from 2008-10 at Clemson, helping the Tigers to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.

Prior to Clemson, Morrell spent two years at Kings College in Bristol, Tenn. Serving as an assistant, he helped guide the Tornadoes to one of the best season's in school history in 2006-07, posting a 23-11 overall mark.

Morrell was quite an athlete himself, playing four years of basketball and four years of golf at Milligan College in northeast Tennessee. He scored over 1,400 points during his basketball career, a number that still ranks among the top-10 in school history.

He earned his bachelor's degree in history from Milligan in 2005.

"I couldn't be more excited about the opportunity to come to VCU and rejoin Coach Smart," Morrell said. "I have great respect for him as well as the entire VCU basketball program. I'm looking forward to getting to work and helping this program continue the great tradition that is VCU basketball."

The duo joins Smart, assistants Will Wade and Mike Rhoades, strength coach Daniel Roose and video coordinator Donny Lind on the sidelines for the Black & Gold.

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