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Former UALR player Bozeman to coach UAPB

by I.C. Murrell | June 12, 2021 at 2:47 a.m.
Solomon Bozeman plays during the first half of the Sun Belt Tournament championship game in Hot Springs in this March 8, 2011, file photo. Bozeman played for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Trojans. (AP/Danny Johnston)

Solomon Bozeman, a former University of Arkansas at Little Rock honorable mention All-American from Magnolia, has been called back home to the Natural State to lead the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff men's basketball team.

UAPB announced the 33-year-old as its newest head coach in a news release Friday. Bozeman, who spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach at Oral Roberts University, will be introduced at a news conference at 11 a.m. Tuesday at UAPB's STEM conference center.

"It is an absolute honor to be named head men's basketball coach at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff," Bozeman said in a release. "In all things, I give thanks and praise to the Lord. I'd like to thank Chancellor [Laurence B.] Alexander, [Athletic Director Chris] Robinson and the entire athletics administration for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to be the head coach at such a historic university. The commitment and vision that AD Robinson has for the entire department is second to none."

Bozeman's hiring ends a two-month search for UAPB since George Ivory announced he was stepping down. Ivory went 140-268 in 13 seasons, but led the Golden Lions to the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament championship and an NCAA tournament victory in 2010 and SWAC tournament runner-up finish in 2018.

Ivory's Lions finished 4-21 overall and 3-13 in the SWAC in the 2020-21 season.

"The Golden Lion Nation is excited to welcome Coach Bozeman to The Pride," said Robinson, completing his first coaching search since being promoted from an interim role last Friday. "Bozeman has an amazing reputation when it comes to recruiting and player development. We're confident he will position our men's program as a powerhouse team in the SWAC and increase our recruiting footprint within the state."

UAPB found in Bozeman a man who helped Oral Roberts to its highest finish in 47 years, guiding the Tulsa-based Golden Eagles to the NCAA Sweet 16 three months ago. Third-seeded University of Arkansas narrowly defeated 15th-seeded ORU 72-70 in that round, but not before ORU stunned second-seeded Ohio State and seventh-seeded Florida, due in large part to guard Max Abmas, the nation's leading scorer at 24.6 points per game.

Bozeman is credited with recruiting and developing All-Summit League and conference newcomer teammates Deondre Burns and R.J. Glasper to ORU.

Before his time in Tulsa, Bozeman spent two seasons at UALR, where he recruited and developed Philadelphia 76ers player Rayjon Tucker. Bozeman also coached at Abilene Christian and recruited three all-conference selections who helped the Wildcats reach two NCAA tournaments.

"I also want to thank [ORU Coach] Paul Mills, [former UALR Coach] Wes Flanigan and [Abilene Christian Coach] Joe Golding for helping and preparing me for this opportunity," Bozeman said. "The impact they have made in my life will not be forgotten. The vision and standard will be at a high level. Our basketball team at Pine Bluff will do things the right way with character and passion."

Bozeman's father Eric is a former head coach at Henderson State and Southern Arkansas and assistant coach at Ole Miss. The younger Bozeman transferred from Oxford (Miss.) High School to Magnolia High for his senior season and averaged 28.5 points and 3 steals per game in leading the Panthers to the 2006 4A state championship game.

He spent his first two seasons at South Florida before transferring to UALR, where he earned Associated Press All-America honorable mention, Sun Belt Conference Student-Athlete of the Year and Sun Belt Player of the Year honors. He was the hero of the Trojans' 2011 Sun Belt championship game victory, hitting the go-ahead 3-pointer that gave them a 64-63 victory over North Texas.

Since graduating from UALR, Bozeman played professionally in what is now the NBA G League and overseas. He went on to earn a master's degree in sports management from Little Rock.

Bozeman and his wife Myla have been married for six years.

The search committee for Bozeman's new position included enrolment management Vice Chancellor Braque Talley, athletics Senior Women's Administrator Betty Hayes-Anthony, political science instructor Henry Brooks IV, and former UAPB basketball players Antonio Moore, Tanuya Washington Worthy and Jesse Mason Jr.

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