Bryan Bender has been named as the new Director of Basketball Operations for Appalachian State University men’s basketball, head coach Jim Fox announced on Monday.




“Bryan comes to Appalachian State with an impressive background. He has had he opportunity to work with Tubby Smith at Minnesota and USA Basketball under Bob McKillop,” said Fox. “Bryan is a jack of all trades with a tremendous work ethic. He has already made his mark on our program and we are very fortunate to have him as part of the App State family.”


Bender joins the Mountaineers after one season as an assistant coach at Missouri State University-West Plains. In his lone season he helped direct a squad that put West Plains on the map as a perennial recruiting hot bed. MSU-West Plains had over 100 NCAA Division I coaches from 70 different programs witness a game or practice last year. Five players signed National Letters of Intents with Division I institutions and the Grizzlies produced three NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) all-region selections, including two of the top-50 junior college players in the nation; Justin Jamison and Devaugntah Williams who both signed with Texas Tech this spring.


On top of watching his players have success being recruited to the highest level, Bender gained valuable recruiting experience while helping rebuild a full roster in one year. Bender and the rest of the West Plains coaching staff signed 16 players from all over the United States and Europe. The recruiting class had players from Minnesota, Maryland, Florida, Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, Massachusetts, Texas, Pennsylvania, Serbia, Poland and the United Kingdom.


In addition to helping guide the Grizzlies to 18 victories on the court, he also guided the program to success in the classroom. As the study hall coordinator Bender’s student-athletes set a record for highest team GPA in school history his first semester on campus and six players earned their associates degree from West Plains. Bender also served as a per-course faculty instructor and dorm director in his time in West Plains.


Prior to his time at MSU-West Plains, Bender spent eight seasons at the University of Minnesota in a variety of roles with the Golden Gophers. During his last three seasons, he served as Minnesota’s video coordinator, overseeing film exchange, student managers and all video duties. He aided in numerous aspects of the program including practice planning, recruiting, academics and scheduling. Prior to being the video coordinator, he spent four seasons as a student manager with the program, including two as the head student manager and film coordinator and was a graduate assistant during the 2009-10 season.


During Bender’s tenure at Minnesota the Gophers made six postseason appearances including three trips to the NCAA Tournament and three more to the NIT. During the 2012-2013 season, the Gophers spent 14 weeks ranked in the top 25, including three weeks in the top 10, and capped off the year with a win over UCLA in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.


Bender also gained valuable experience as part of the support staff for the 2008 USA Basketball U18 Junior National Team, where he worked for legendary Davidson head coach Bob McKillop, and also served as assistant director of the Tubby Smith Basketball Camps for six years.


A native of Cambridge, Wis., Bender holds two degrees from the University of Minnesota, earning his bachelor’s degree in sports management in 2008 before earning his master’s in applied kinesiology with an emphasis in sports management and coaching in 2010.