After being named head coach at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, Vinson Metcalf did not take long to determine who his right-hand man would be. He chose former Hillcat Chris Francis to join the Drover family.
“I am very excited to have Chris join me to start this new era of basketball at USAO,” Metcalf said. “His background as a player in this league and his knowledge of the game will be tremendous assets to our program.”
Francis, a native of Cleora, Okla., spent the last year as an assistant coach at LSU Shreveport, a Red River Athletic Conference school with a reputation for high-quality basketball. Last year, the Pilots made an appearance in the semi-finals of the NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship in Kansas City, Mo.
Francis said he thought USAO was a perfect fit for him not only because it brought him closer to family and friends but also because of the type of coaches and athletes at the institution.
“It is great to be moving closer to home and to be in the Sooner Athletic Conference. It’s the best conference in the nation,” he said. “Also, with USAO going to the national tournament last year, I think Coach Metcalf and I could take them back there. Plus, working with a national championship coach, I think I could learn a lot at USAO.”
Not only does Francis have experience against members of the SAC, but he also has experience coaching against some of the schools entering the conference this season. Both Southwestern Assemblies of God and Texas Wesleyan play in the RRAC with LSUS.
Both Metcalf and Francis are interested in coaching a “run and gun” style of basketball, which isn’t what the SAC is traditionally known for.
“I know the style of ball Coach Metcalf likes to play is the style of ball we had at LSUS. Hopefully, I can help him transition into a more fast-paced game,” Francis said. “I think it will give us a little step on the competition. Defensively, it’s going to be tough. But Coach Metcalf is a tough coach, and he likes to coach defensive, so I think our guys will be ready for that challenge.”
Francis started his collegiate coaching career as a student assistant at Rogers State University in 2011-12 as the Hillcats made an appearance in the quarterfinals at the NAIA Division I National Championship.
During his senior campaign in the 2011-12 season, he helped lead the Cats to their first appearance in the round of eight in the team’s second appearance at the national tournament.
Francis was one of the first signees to the Hillcat program. He ended his career with 800 points and became the all-time career record holder for games played (123), steals (139) and minutes played (2,498). Francis was one of four recipients of the Pattison Family Foundation Scholarship and was recognized as a Champion of Character.
“I watched him as a player at RSU where he played with great energy and enthusiasm, and I know he will do the same as an assistant coach,” Metcalf said. “We welcome Chris to the USAO family.”
With experience in the national tournament as both a player and a coach, Francis said he sets high goals for his teams, including conference and national championships.
“A 20-plus season is another goal,” he said. “Hopefully, just win some championships in addition to getting some good kids in here that will graduate.”