UNA Hires Tony Pujol as Head Men’s Basketball Coach

Jan 14, 2017; Laramie, WY, USA; Wyoming Cowboys assistant coach Tony Pujol against the Nevada Wolf Pack at Arena-Auditorium. The Wolf Pack beat the Cowboys 89-74. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-UW Media-Athletics

FLORENCE, Ala. (UNA)- Tony Pujol, an assistant basketball coach at the University of Wyoming with 14 years of collegiate coaching experience, has been hired as the head men’s basketball coach at the University of North Alabama, UNA Athletic Director Mark Linder announced Monday.

A former assistant basketball coach at Appalachian State University, Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Alabama before taking a position at Wyoming in 2016, Pujol will be formally introduced at a press conference at UNA on Friday (April 6) at 2:00 p.m.

“We had an outstanding pool of quality candidates and brought in four very impressive individuals,” said. Linder. “The committee and I met with Tony and knew that he was the right fit at this time for the UNA basketball program. He has a high degree of energy, his preparation is off the charts and he wants to be here.”

Linder added that Pujol has recruited in the state of Alabama and the Southeast for the majority of his coaching career.

“Tony has had tremendous success where ever he has been,” Linder said. “We look forward to welcoming Tony, his wife Mayle and their family to the Shoals and to UNA.”

Pujol becomes just the seventh head coach in the 87-year history of the UNA’s men’s basketball program. The Lions boast the richest collegiate men’s basketball tradition in the state of Alabama with 14 NCAA Tournament appearances, eight regional championships, five Final Fours and two national championships.

Pujol will lead North Alabama as the school begins its transition to NCAA Division I basketball in the 2018-19 season as a member of the ASUN Conference.

Pujol helped lead Wyoming to a 20-13 record in 2017-18. In 2016-17, Pujol helped lead the Cowboys to the College Basketball Invitational Championship. The Cowboys finished the season 23-15 overall with a 19-3 home record. Pujol helped mentor Mountain West Sixth Man Justin James, as he also was named the Most Valuable Player of the CBI. Junior Forward Hayden Dalton also received Honorable-Mention All-Mountain West honors. The Cowboys set a school and MW record with 369 three-pointers last season.

Pujol coached collegiately at Alabama for five seasons from 2010-2014 under head coach Anthony Grant. Pujol helped the Crimson Tide compile a 99-71 record during his time on the staff, including three-straight 20-win seasons for the first time since 1990-92. Alabama earned two NIT bids and one NCAA bid from 2011-13 and finished runner-up in the NIT in 2011.  That 2010-11 Crimson Tide team featured one of the toughest defenses in the nation, as Alabama surrendered only 59.4 points per game, the eighth-lowest average in the nation. Alabama’s tenacious defense helped it go 19-0 at home during that season.

On the recruiting trail, he helped the Tide land a 2011 recruiting class that Rivals.com ranked as the fifth best in the nation with four prospects ranked in the top 100 nationally. After the 2013-14 season, Pujol stepped away from collegiate coaching to dedicated more time to his family and has coached the last year and a half in the AAU ranks in New Jersey.

Previously, Pujol served under Grant at VCU from 2006-09 with Edwards and Jeremy Shyatt. The staff guided the Rams to a 76-25 record in those three seasons, including 45-9 in the Colonial Athletic Association. VCU won three conference regular-season titles and two tournament titles in that span to play in the NCAA tournament twice and NIT once. Two Rams from that team, Eric Maynor and Larry Sanders, would go on to be selected in the NBA draft.

Pujol joined Grant’s staff after two seasons at Appalachian State from 2004-06, where he helped the Mountaineers win the Southern Conference North Division in 2005. The team also earned the NCAA’s Public Recognition Award based on the program’s APR. His recruits would help ASU win a school-record 25 games the season after he left.

Prior to his collegiate career, Pujol was a high school coach in south Florida for 13 seasons, including nine at Northwest Christian Academy in Miami, where he posted a 250-46 record with state titles in 1999, 2003 and 2004.

He graduated from Sterling College (Kansas) in 1989 with a degree in business administration and was a standout in both basketball and baseball, earning all-conference honors on the diamond in his final three seasons.

Tony and his wife, Mayle, have three daughters, Kasey, Kristen and Mia.

“Tony Pujol is a first class human being and coach. The University of North Alabama is getting ready to be touched by a winner on and off the court.”
—    Frank Martin, Head Basketball Coach, University of South Carolina

“Tony Pujol is an outstanding basketball coach, strategic planner and relationship builder. He will be a perfect fit for UNA on campus, in the community and in the transition to ASUN competition.”
—    Anthony Grant, Head Basketball Coach, University of Dayton

“Tony is an excellent coach who understands what it takes to win at a high level. He will have a tremendous impact on the student-athletes and athletics department at the University of North Alabama, as well as the community of Florence.”
—    Allen Edwards, Head Basketball Coach, University of Wyoming

“Tony is a great hire by UNA. He was one of my favorite people when he was at Alabama. I’m confident the people in the Shoals are going to love him.”
—    Patrick Murphy, Head Softball Coach, University of Alabama

“North Alabama has made a great hire in Tony Pujol. I am excited for him to have this opportunity to be the head basketball coach. Coach Pujol will be a great leader and mentor for the student-athletes and will do great things for the Lions’ basketball program.”
—    Shane Lyons, Director of Athletics, West Virginia University

“Congratulations to North Alabama on the hiring of Tony Pujol! Having known Coach Pujol for 18 years, I’ve always been impressed with his work ethic, his commitment to his players and his ability to recruit talented student-athletes. With his wealth of experience, excellent basketball knowledge and incredible family, he will do a tremendous job leading the North Alabama program forward.”
—    Matt McMahon, Head Basketball Coach, Murray State University

“Tony is a first class coach who can recruit, coach and be a great ambassador of the Lions. He has tremendous passion and his teams will play with focus. He did a tremendous job at VCU and was instrumental in building the foundation for VCU’s success. Good days are ahead for UNA basketball.”
—    Dr. Richard Sander, Assistant to the President, Executive Director in Residence,
East Tennessee State University Doctoral Program in Sports Leadership

UNA Men’s Basketball Head Coaches
Eddie Flowers             1932-48    17 years    Records incomplete
Ed Billingham             1949-72    24 years    249-312        44.4 pct
Bill E. Jones            1973-74    2 years        28-17            62.2 pct
Bill Jones                1975-88    14 years    259-141        64.8 pct
Gary Elliott                1989-03    15 years    270-150        64.3 pct
Bobby Champagne        2004-18    15 years    245-195        55.7 pct
Tony Pujol        2018-