Jimmy Link, a veteran of 10 seasons of college basketball experience, has been named as just the fifth head men's basketball coach in the 25-year history of Clayton State University as announced by Tim Duncan, Director of Athletics, on Monday, May 11. An introductory press conference will be scheduled on campus in the near future.
"We are excited to have Jimmy Link join our department as the head coach of our men's basketball program. Having worked with Jimmy previously, I know he embodies the qualities we look for in all of our head coaches – a passion to help student-athletes succeed in the classroom and on the court. We are fortunate to have Jimmy, his wife Jen and children Maverick, Beckett and Nash become the newest members of the Laker family."
Link, who has coached at all three levels of the NCAA as well as in the NAIA, joins the Lakers following a very successful run as head coach at Division II Paine College in Augusta, Ga. During his four-plus years in that role he compiled an 81-60 overall record (.574) and 59-41 (.590) mark in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
He also coached and recruited five All-SIAC selections, two Freshman of the Year, a Player of the Year and himself earned Coach of the Year honors. Additionally, he coached a pair of BoxtoRow All-Americans, a National Player of the Year and was named National Coach of the Year.
His teams have also achieved national recognition in several statistical categories, ranking second in the country in blocks per game (7.0 bpg) and 25th in field goal percentage defense in 2011-12 and
"I want to thank Clayton State President Dr. Tim Hynes, Director of Athletics Tim Duncan and the search committee for their confidence in me to lead the men's basketball program to the next level," said Link. "It is truly an honor to join an institution of this caliber with the opportunity to compete against some of the best teams in the country in the Peach Belt Conference. I look forward to getting Laker basketball back to where it belongs – contending for league championships and in the NCAA Tournament."
He joined the Lions as an assistant coach in July of 2010 before taking over as interim head coach in late December of that year. Taking over a team that was 1-4 and predicted to finish last in the SIAC, he led Paine to a 10-13 record the rest of the way, a berth in the SIAC Tournament and a surprise 68-65 victory over LeMoyne-Owen in the first round.
Following that campaign, Link was named as the permanent head coach of the program and brought about continued success for the Lions. In his first full season at the helm, 2011-12, he won six of his first seven games and produced a 16-13 overall record and a pair of SIAC Tournament wins as part of a trip to the semifinals.
That season also produced a SIAC Freshman of the Year award winner in Kedric Taylor, who averaged 10.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists. He was also one of just seven Division II players to record a triple-double on the year.
The 2012-13 campaign would see PC go 14-15 with a 10-8 league mark but make a second consecutive trip to the SIAC semifinals. Mario Jordan, an eventual 1,000-point scorer for the Lions, would go on to earn All-SIAC honors following the season.
A very impressive two-year span would begin with the 2013-14 season as Paine surged to an 18-13 overall record and went 11-7 in league. All-Conference honorees in Taylor and transfer Kenny Fluellen resulted in another trip to the SIAC semifinals.
What had been built over the previous three-plus years would come to fruition in the 2014-15 campaign. This past season, after opening 1-3, the Lions exploded to win 22 of their next 25 games to close the season with a stellar 23-6 record, including a 14-1 home record. Not included in that stretch was a near upset of Division I Kennesaw, 80-75, in a regular season exhibition.
As impressive as that mark was, a 17-2 performance in league play helped the Lions earn the SIAC East Division Championship before making another semifinal appearance. As is to be expected with a season of that magnitude, the postseason recognitions rolled in for Paine.
Link would be named the SIAC Coach of the Year while Denzel Dillingham and Arnis Libazs were All-Conference selections. Dillingham would add Player of the Year as well as Freshman of the Year. Dillingham and Link would add BoxtoRow National Player of the Year and Coach of the Year honors, respectively.
Dillingham and Libazs each were named All-Americans by that organization while the latter was a two-time SIAC All-Academic Team selection, earning that honor in 2013-14 and 2014-15.
Prior to joining Paine, Link began his coaching career in 2004-05 at his alma mater, then NAIA Flagler College. That season he helped the Saints to a 23-8 record, an NAIA Sweet 16 berth and Top-10 national ranking before moving on to an assistant position at Division III Washington College (Md.) in 2005-06. While there he recruited 13 players, a group that helped deliver a 13-14 overall record, a number of wins that was the most by the program since the 2000-01 campaign.
As his alma mater made the transition to the NCAA Division II ranks, Link returned to St. Augustine as an assistant coach from 2006-08. Following a 14-13 outing in that first season, he helped recruit a class that resulted in a strong 20-7 campaign in 2007-08.
That performance helped land him an assistant position at recent NCAA Division I transition program North Florida in 2008-09. Following that one season he returned to Division II, joining Southeast Region member Newberry on Steve DeMeo's staff before making the eventual jump to the staff of 500-game winner Dennis Spry in the summer of 2010.
Paine was not Link's first experience being part of building a highly successful program as he spent four years playing point guard at then NAIA Flagler from 1999-2003. During that four-year period the Saints produced an 80-39 overall record but were an incredible 66-22 over the final three seasons.
Following 20-8 (2000-01) and 24-6 (2001-02) campaigns that resulted in national rankings both years, the 2002-03 season would prove to be among the best in the program's history. That year Flagler went 22-8 overall, won the Florida Sun Conference, was nationally ranked four times and made the first NAIA National Tournament appearance in team history.
Following his playing career, Link graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication with an emphasis in Broadcast. He and his wife Jen have two sons, Maverick and Beckett, and are currently awaiting their third child, Nash, in the coming weeks.