(Edmonton, AB)  The University of Alberta Athletics announced today
that Junior Men’s National Team Head Coach, Greg Francis has been
selected as the new head coach of the Golden Bears basketball program. 
Francis is currently the Head Coach of Canada Basketball’s Junior Men’s
National Team as well as the National Elite Development Academy (NEDA).


“This is a great opportunity to be a part of a wonderful academic institution and athletics program,” said Francis.  “I am looking forward to using my experiences both domestically and internationally to develop the student-athletes at University of Alberta to reach their full potential.”

The 34-year old Toronto native was chosen to replace out-going coach and CIS legend, Don Horwood who has guided the Bears for 26 seasons, winning three national championships in 15 appearances.  Horwood announced his retirement in November of 2008 and will end his career at the completion of the 2008-09 CIS season. 

“I am thrilled to announce the appointment of Greg Francis as the next Head Coach of the Golden Bears Basketball program,” said Director of Athletics Dale Schulha.  “Greg has a unique basketball background and has achieved a great deal of success thus far in his coaching career. He is a rising star in the Canadian basketball scene and we are thrilled that he will be leading the Golden Bears basketball program into the future. Coach Francis is a person of outstanding character and he is very familiar with players nationwide. Therefore, we are confident that he will attract exceptional Canadian student-athletes to the University of Alberta.”

Francis remains an integral part of the Canada Basketball’s Elite Performance Program, particularly in the development of young elite athletes.  He will continue to coach Canada’s Junior Men’s National Team, which earned a berth to the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championships after winning a bronze medal in the 2008 U18 FIBA Americas Championships.  The World Championship event will take place July 2-12 in Auckland, New Zealand.

He will also continue to lead the NEDA program through the remainder of this academic year.  Francis has been the head coach of the NEDA boy’s program since its inception in September 2007.  A national training centre program, NEDA brings together the top 12 male and female development athletes from across Canada, aged 15 – 18 to train in a central location under the Canada Basketball national team program.

“We are all thrilled for Greg and this exciting opportunity, said Canada Basketball Executive Director and CEO Wayne Parrish.  “He is very well respected as a coach amongst his peers, and young athletes across Canada.  The University of Alberta position is one of the top coaching jobs in the country, offering Greg a chance to bring his knowledge and expertise to the university level.  This is a great win-win, both for the CIS and Canada Basketball.”

Francis began to develop his passion for coaching in 1998-1999, while playing overseas.  He was named head coach at Champville High School in Lebanon, while playing professionally for the Champville Marists.  The following year, he served as the bench boss for the Mid-Chesitre College in England, while playing for the Chester Jets. In 2000-2001, Francis was an assistant coach at Monmouth University and helped the school qualify for the NCAA Tournament and a first round match-up with Duke University. In 2000-2003, Francis served as the head coach for the Macabi Hadrea Junior Boy’s Team in Israel and played for the Macabi Hadrea Senior Team.

He fostered his passion for coaching and returned to Canada as the Men’s National Development Coach in 2004.  Francis also served as an assistant coach with the Young Men’s National Team in 2004 and the Senior Men’s National Team in 2005 before being selected as the head coach for Junior Men’s National Team in 2006.

On the court, the 6’3 guard is also a six-year veteran of the Men’s National Team, having played 55 international games with Canada including the 2000 Men’s Olympics Team in Sydney, Australia, where Canada finished seventh, and at the 2003 Tournament of the Americas where Canada finished fourth. 

Francis played professionally for four years, in Lebanon, Israel and in England. Prior to his professional career, Francis played for the Fairfield University Stags from 1994 to 1997, a division 1 school within the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in the NCAA, where he still holds a school record and took the Stags on a memorable run during the 1997 NCAA tournament. 

“We knew that it would be a difficult task to replace Don Horwood as the Golden Bears basketball Head Coach,” comments Schulha, “however, I feel that we have hired one of the brightest coaches in Canada and I am confident that Greg will continue the strong tradition of our Bears basketball program for many years to come.”

The University of Alberta will host a press conference with Greg Francis on Thursday, February 12 in the Faculty Lounge (4th floor in the U of A Pavilion).  For more information on the media opportunity please contact Dale Shulha at 780-492-3413.

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Canada Basketball (www.basketball.ca) is a private, not-for-profit corporation that is committed to the growth of the sport in Canada. Canada Basketball is focused on the development and preparation of Canada’s national teams for the Olympic, Pan American and FISU Games as well as the FIBA World Championships. The aspiration of Canada Basketball is to instill the pride, commitment, passion and respect that Canadians personify into the development of basketball across the country and internationally. 

For more information please contact:

Wayne Parrish                                    Tanya Phillipps

Executive Director & CEO                    Manager, Marketing & Communications

Canada Basketball                              Canada Basketball

Tel:   416.614.8037 x206                     Tel:  416.614.8037 x219

Fax:  416.614.9570                             Fax:  416.614.9570   

e-mail: wparrish@basketball.ca                e-mail:  tphillipps@basketball.ca

Website: www.basketball.ca                Website:  www.basketball.ca

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