The Student Voice of Coastal Carolina University



New men’s basketball coach ready to rebuild

Coach Justin Gray standing between Athletic Director Matt Hogue (left) and President Michael T. Benson (right)
Coach Justin Gray standing between Athletic Director Matt Hogue (left) and President Michael T. Benson (right)

Justin Gray was hired as Coastal Carolina University men’s basketball head coach, announced on March 11.


Gray replaced former head coach Cliff Ellis, who retired early in the season after leading the program for the past 17 seasons.

Gray previously spent three seasons as the head coach at Western Carolina University and two seasons as an assistant coach at Winthrop University.

Gray said the first step is to bring in a proven identity and a set of core values to the team. Three things he wants to build the program around are growth, gratitude and glory.

Growing a successful program and being grateful for future opportunities, Gray said, is impossible to understand without a strong religious faith.

He said his brand of basketball will be obvious to the people who watch them play.

“We’re going to play with relentless effort, we’re going to compete with excellence and we’re going to be together and have a brotherhood,” Gray said. Fans already feel a change in the team culture, Including CCU Alumni Caleb Ledford. A 2023 graduate, Ledford said he is excited about the future of the program with Gray in charge.

“He’s shown improvement every year at other schools,” Ledford said. “I think bringing in a new coach with a new personality and style will get fans and students more interested.”

Gray admitted that there is room for improvement for the program but said they can accomplish their goals with the right support from the fans, community and administration. One factor includes getting more students in attendance at home games to support the team.

“[The HTC Center] is the perfect size to pack out,” Gray said. “It should be a hard place to play, it’s always tough to play on the road, but we gotta turn this into an environment and a place that not everybody just wants to come here and play and feel comfortable.” Josh Whitlow, digital initiatives coordinator at Chanticleer Sports Network (CSN), has spent the last four years working for CSN and witnessed their growth over the years.

Whitlow said he believes Gray will bring new life to
the program.

“It is a new age of NIL, and I trust Coach Gray to navigate those waters and bring CCU basketball back to prominence in the Sun Belt [Conference],” he said.

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