'A dream come true': Wes Flanigan returns to Auburn as an assistant coach
AUBURN – Bruce Pearl has added a veteran men’s basketball coach to his staff with previous experience wearing the Auburn jersey.
Wes Flanigan, a four-year starter at point guard for Auburn from 1993-97, has been hired to replace the opening left on Pearl’s staff when Chuck Person was terminated following his arrest and subsequent indictment on felony charges resulting in the year-long eligibility issues and suspensions of Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy.
Flanigan, a native of Little Rock, Ark., was recently terminated by Arkansas Little-Rock after two seasons as head coach where he went 22-42 overall that followed the season on Chris Beard’s staff at UALR where he led the Trojans program to a 30-win season and a first round upset of Purdue in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Flanigan has experience as an assistant coach at the Power 5 Conference level as he worked under Doc Sadler at Nebraska from 2010-12 and Rick Ray at Mississippi State from 2012-15.
“I‘ve known Wes and admired his work for many years as a competitor,” Pearl said in a university statement. Known as a hard-working, tough-minded, passionate basketball coach and teacher, Wes will make our student-athletes better on and off the court.”
Flanigan was seen with Pearl at Plainsman Park last Friday night attending Auburn’s 2-1 win over Mississippi State but the announcement by Auburn’s athletics department wasn’t made until Monday afternoon.
“Returning to Auburn is a dream come true for me,” Flanigan said in a university statement. “I’ve always wanted to come back to Auburn to coach basketball at some point. I want to thank Coach Pearl and the staff for giving me this opportunity. I’ve followed the program from afar over the years. I know our program is at an all-time high and I am looking forward to helping this staff, these players and Coach Pearl continue the success that they have already established. I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Flanigan finished his career second in school history with 573 assists and is also fourth on the Auburn career lists in free throws with 338 converted. Flanigan was the Southeastern Conference assist leader in 1996 by averaging 6.7 per game while also tying for the team’s scoring lead at 13.4 points per game. The 6-foot-1 guard was named All-SEC as a junior in 1996 for an Auburn team that qualified for the National Invitational Tournament and was a member of the All-SEC Freshman Team in 1994 while playing for Cliff Ellis.
Flanigan’s work may be seen immediately as he’s known as a developer of perimeter talent and likely will get to work with Jared Harper, Bryce Brown and Samir Doughty in the 2018-19 season. Harper and Brown have declared for the NBA Draft but have not hired agents allowing for the likely possibility they’ll return to school and Doughty, a transfer from Virginia Commonwealth who sat out this past season, could be an intriguing prospect asked to play both point and off guard positions.
Flanigan has coaching and recruiting ties to state of Alabama as an assistant coach having served on Mike Davis’ bench as an assistant at Alabama-Birmingham from 2008-10 where the Blazers won 47 games and matched a program record for wins a season with 25 in the 2009-10 campaign.
Sources connected to the Auburn program say it’s likely Chad Prewett will be moved back to his director of basketball operations position after temporarily taking Person’s vacancy on Pearl’s staff on an interim basis for the 2017-18 season. When contacted by the Montgomery Advertiser Monday afternoon, Pearl declined to comment on further staff moves following Flanigan’s hire. Prewett just completed his fourth season on Pearl's staff where he spent the previous three seasons as the special assistant to Pearl after joining the program in June 2014 from a successful run at the high school level at Lee-Scott Academy.