LITTLE ROCK — It didn’t take long for third-year Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman to fill an opening on his basketball staff as he hired another familiar face in Texas A&M director of scouting Mike Ekanem as the Hogs’ new director of player development on Tuesday. The staff addition comes just eight days after the announcement that Earl Boykins had vacated the same position with Arkansas to take a bench assistant coaching position at Texas-El Paso.
Ekanem spent the last two seasons on the Aggies’ staff after one season serving as the multimedia specialist at Nevada in 2018-19, which was Musselman’s fourth and final campaign as head coach of the Wolf Pack prior to taking over at Arkansas. Ekanem — he also has experience working in NBA and WNBA organizations — reunites with Musselman at a time when the Razorbacks program is coming off an NCAA tournament Elite Eight appearance and final national Top 10 ranking.
According to a source, Musselman considered a short list of candidates to fill the vacancy that included Mo Charlo (he played for Musselman in the NBA Development League), Larry Lewis (assistant coach at UC-Santa Barbara), and Mardy Collins (also played for Musselman in the NBA D-League).
The source also said Musselman had multiple conversations about the position with native Arkansan, 6-time NBA champion, and Naismith Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen.
Here’s more on Ekanem …
– Prior to his one-year stint at Nevada, he was at Memphis for four seasons (2015-2018) as a special assistant before serving as the video coordinator and recruiting assistant. He coordinated video and social media, and assisted with opponent scouting and recruiting.
– Before arriving at Memphis, he as an assistant coach in the women’s basketball program at Louisiana Tech for one season (’13-14) as he was in charge of recruiting, scheduling, camps, and guard development.
– Ekanem spent six seasons working in professional basketball — for Spurs Sports and Entertainment as a basketball-operations assistant for the San Antonio Spurs, and as director of video and athletic performance for the San Antonio Stars of the WNBA. For both organizations, he assisted in practice and game preparation, video, skill development, and strength and conditioning.
– Ekanem is a native of Houston and graduated from Texas Lutheran in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in 2005. Ekanem was honored with all-conference recognition at Texas Lutheran before playing professionally overseas.
– Ekanem earned a master’s degree in exercise science from California University of Pennsylvania in 2008. He holds certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association and National Academy of Sports Medicine.