Mason basketball alum Tony Skinn returns home to lead men’s basketball.
BY JALEN STUBBS, SPORTS EDITOR
On Thursday, March 30, Mason announced hiring Tony Skinn to serve as the 12th men’s head coach for the George Mason basketball franchise. According to Mason Athletics, Skinn was a key starter on the 2006 Final Four Team and was one of the best all-around guards in program history. President Gregory Washington addressed his thoughts on the new hire.
“Tony Skinn is the right man for this moment in Mason’s basketball program,” said President Washington. “His coaching style will galvanize our student-athletes and his connection to our finest hour on the court is sure to electrify our alumni and fans. Let the Tony Skinn era begin!”
Philip Wilkerson, who serves as an engagement consultant for Mason explained that there is something to be said about a coach making a return to their community. Wilkerson mentioned how this brings credibility through Skinn’s coaching experience and how he can bring new talent to the team.
“They know the innate culture of the school even if the school has changed significantly,” said Wilkerson. “They just have this innate sense of connection being that they’re an alum. So I believe the new coach, just being an alum, and being on that championship team, brings that cultural experience to his new position as the head coach.”
Megan Green who is the Assistant Coach at Dickenson College attended Skinn’s “One on One” basketball camp in 2005 where he was her camp counselor and coach. Green is excited about his new role and feels that this is an important relationship that Mason should be proud of.
“When you’re a coach and you can talk about the move you’re trying to teach people or demonstrate it, it’s really eye-opening if you’re looking at someone who can do it themselves,” said Coach Green. “He’s super present and I think that’s big in today’s culture too.”
Coach Green believes that Skinn has the potential to have as great of an impact as former Head Coach, Jim Larrañaga did.
“I think Coach Jim has a history of bringing the right type of culture in, bringing the right kids in, and, winning with it,” said Coach Green. “I think Coach Skinn being a player at the time saw the right way to lead and the right way to fight for something.”
Many students know that having a former basketball player as the head coach will have a positive impact on the franchise yet also feel that having frequent changes in the coaching staff would be challenging for the players. Senior Ian Gates is hopeful about the future of this basketball team since Skinn has played for Mason’s Final Four team.
“I think he’ll bring energy to the program as well as knowledge about how it works,” said Gates. “He’s someone who understands what it’s like to play here.”