A veteran of the national and Big 12 coaching landscapes and a highly-respected recruiter, Melvin Watkins enters his seventh season at the University of Missouri and fifth under Head Coach Mike Anderson.
Watkins, who serves as the Associate Head Coach under Anderson, came to Columbia in 2004 after serving six years as the head coach at Texas A&M University (1998-2004) and two seasons as the head coach at his alma mater, UNC-Charlotte (1996-98).
Truly one of the quality individuals in college basketball's coaching fraternity, Watkins brings 32 years of coaching experience to Mizzou and is certainly no stranger to postseason play. As a head coach, Watkins registered a 2-2 mark in NCAA Tournament action, before helping guide the Tigers to an Elite Eight berth in the 2009 Big Dance.
Watkins has also received a number of coaching awards during his tenure, including the Conference USA Ray Meyer Coach of the Year honor in 1997, an honor achieved by Anderson in 2004 while at UAB. A tenacious leader with a dynamic personality, Watkins knows what it takes to build and maintain a successful program and has assisted Anderson in rebuilding Missouri's fantastic tradition over the last three seasons.
"It's certainly been a pleasure working with Melvin and getting to know his family," Head Coach Mike Anderson said. "Just a few of the qualities I appreciate about Melvin are his character and his family-oriented approach to coaching. Those aren't necessarily traits you find everywhere, but those are certainly traits that I see in myself and traits that I search for when building a staff. Melvin brings a wealth of coaching experience and has a strong background in the Big 12 Conference having coached in this league for the past 11 seasons. We certainly appreciate Melvin's dedication to the University of Missouri, his dedication to our staff and most importantly his dedication to our student-athletes."
The former all-conference point guard and team captain at UNC Charlotte during his playing days is regarded as an outstanding recruiter. In his six years as head coach at Texas A&M, Watkins brought eight National Top 100 recruits to campus including the school's fourth all-time leading scorer, Bernard King and 2005 NBA First Rounder Antoine Wright. Former A&M standout and 2007 first team All-American Acie Law was also part of Watkins' recruiting efforts, as was All-Big 12 performer Joseph Jones.
Watkins has continued his recruiting prowess at Missouri and helped lead MU's recruiting efforts to retool the club's roster. Included in his expanding list of stars at Missouri is Zaire Taylor. The Staten Island, N.Y., native shined for Missouri over his two seasons, leading the club to 54 wins, while registering an incredible four game-winning shots in Big 12 games. Watkins also played a leading role in attracting Ricardo Ratliffe, the nation's #1 junior college performer, and a host of key MU standouts.
"When you go about building a program, you have to do it the right way and that's by attracting young men of great character and strong work ethic and that's what Coach Anderson has done here at Missouri," Watkins said. "You look back on this past season and you see how character plays such an important role in the success of a program. Coach Anderson brings a great deal of character and passion for the game, which has ultimately translated into success for the University of Missouri both on and off the basketball court."
Watkins, 55, also puts a heavy emphasis on academics and during his time at A&M, 14 of the 17 players who completed their eligibility went on to graduate. The three non-graduates are playing pro basketball. Watkins' program also turned out 15 Academic All-Big 12 first or second team members during his six years at the helm.
Prior to his time at Texas A&M, Watkins was an icon of UNC-Charlotte basketball, helping the team to the Final Four as a player in 1977, then spending 18 years as an assistant before being named head coach in 1996. He was involved in every 20-win season and all 10 postseason tournament appearances in the school's history prior to his move to Texas A&M.
In two seasons as head coach at UNC-Charlotte, Watkins led the 49ers to a 42-20 record and two straight NCAA Tournament first-round victories. UNC-Charlotte posted a two-year conference record of 23-7 and advanced to the Conference USA Tournament finals both years.
A 1977 graduate of UNC-Charlotte with a degree in Economics, Watkins was drafted by the Buffalo Braves in the fourth round of the NBA Draft. His number (#32) was retired at UNC-Charlotte after his senior season along with his teammate Cedric Maxwell (#33). He was a 1973 High School All-American and was also the team captain of the Reidsville (N.C.) High School state championship team his senior year. Watkins was a three-year starter at Reidsville from 1970-73.
A strong member of the Columbia, College Station and Charlotte communities, Watkins was active in the Habitat for Humanity "Home Building Project," was a Co-Chair of the Battered Women's Shelter and is a member of the "100 Black Men of Charlotte" organization, a nationally known group that mentors young people and raises funds to assist individuals in their efforts to go to college.
Watkins, and his wife, Burrell, are the proud parents of sons Manuale and Marcus and a daughter, Keia. Marcus played collegiately at Missouri and Keia is a recent graduate of the Medical School at Missouri.
The Watkins File
o Name: Melvin Watkins
o Birth date: Nov. 15, 1954
o Birthplace: Reidsville, N.C.
o Wife: Burrell (Bryant)
o Children: Keia, Marcus and Manuale
o Education: B.A. Economics, UNC Charlotte, 1977
o Reidsville (N.C.) High School, 1973
o 2004-present - Associate Head Coach, University of Missouri
o 1998-2004 - Head Coach, Texas A&M University (60-111 record)
o 1996-98 - Head Coach, UNC Charlotte (42-20 record)
o 1987-96 - Associate Head Coach, UNC Charlotte
o 1978-87 - Assistant Coach, UNC Charlotte
o 1998 NCAA Tournament (1-1 record)
o 1997 NCAA Tournament (1-1 record)
o 1997 Conference USA Division Champions
o 1997 Conference USA Ray Meyer Coach of the Year
o Habitat for Humanity "Home Building Project"
o Co-chair, Battered Women's Shelter
o 100 Black Men of Charlotte
o 1977-78 Buffalo Braves (fourth-round NBA Draft)
o 1973-77 UNC Charlotte