Seton Hall men's basketball head coach Kevin Willard has been named the co-recipient of the 2019 Peter A. Carlesimo Met Writers Coach of the Year Award, the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association announced Monday. Willard shares the honor with Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich.
Willard becomes only the second coach in Met Writers history to earn the honor three times, joining St. John's legend Lou Carnesecca, who captured the award in 1983, 1985 and 1986. Like Carnesecca,
Willard has also now earned all three in a four-year span (2016, 2017, 2019). The award is named after long-time coach and athletics administrator Peter A. Carlesimo, who was executive director of the National Invitation Tournament from 1978-88 and the father of former Seton Hall head coach P.J. Carlesimo.
This is the sixth all-time Coach of the Year selection for Seton Hall. In addition to Willard's three, P.J. Carlesimo was a back-to-back winner in 1988 and 1989, and Tommy Amaker was the recipient in 2000.
Willard has been the architect of a Seton Hall basketball renaissance that continued to excel and surprise in a season that many expected would not result in a trip to the NCAA Tournament. However, Willard continues to mold his student-athletes into winners.
Picked to finish eighth in the BIG EAST by the league's other nine head coaches, Seton Hall instead became one of the conference's most impactful programs this past season, generating tremendous buzz by defeating No. 9 Kentucky in the Citi Hoops Classic at Madison Square Garden, taking down Maryland on the road in a hostile environment and winning the 2018 Wooden Legacy Classic.
The successful non-conference season then translated into league success as Willard and the Pirates finished 9-9 in the super-competitive conference with big wins at Xavier and Creighton and ending the regular season with a pair of victories over nationally ranked Marquette and Villanova.
On Selection Sunday, Seton Hall heard its name called for the fourth straight year, matching only the 1991-94 teams for the most consecutive tournament appearances in program history. Currently, only 13 teams in all of Div. I have now made the NCAA Tournament each of the last four seasons: Seton Hall, Cincinnati, Duke, Gonzaga, Iona, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, Purdue, Villanova and Virginia.
In total, Willard and Seton Hall finished the season with a fourth straight 20-win season (20-14) and a fourth straight third-place finish in the BIG EAST. Incredibly, in the program's illustrious history, this is the first time the Pirates have won at least 20 games in four consecutive seasons.
Willard's influence also extended into outstanding player development as junior Myles Powell developed into an All-American star, averaging 23.1 points per game, setting numerous Seton Hall records and finishing in the NCAA top 35 in numerous statistical categories.