Although Kris Baumann hasn’t been to Odessa in over a decade, he can’t wait to get back.
Odessa College announced Baumann as its new men’s basketball coach Wednesday night. Baumann most recently served as an assistant men’s basketball coach at UTEP for two seasons.
Baumann takes the helm of the Wranglers program after Tra Arnold accepted an assistant coaching job at Division I Iona College in New York last month.
“I thought Tra did a remarkable job. He got them to where they were top five in the country,” Baumann said. “I really thought he took them to an elite level in junior college. Odessa has always had a tremendous reputation in the NJCAA.
“I wanted to see if I could come in and be a part of the winning tradition they have.”
Baumann was a Miners’ assistant under Tim Floyd, who retired from coaching last November in the middle of UTEP’s season.
Along taking the helm at UTEP for the better part of eight seasons, Floyd was also the head coach at Iowa State and Southern California.
From 1998 to 2004, Floyd also coached professionally, leading the Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Hornets.
After the Miners ended their season, Baumann was not retained by the school.
“I really enjoyed my two years at UTEP and wish I could’ve stayed longer to be honest,” Baumann added. “Floyd had coached at the Division I level and NBA level. He’s been in the Pac-12, Big 12.”
“I learned a tremendous amount from him in two years, not only coaching but recruiting as well. I’m going to take all those experiences with me to Odessa.”
The last time Baumann was in Odessa was when the OC Sports Center hosted an NJCAA all-star game when he was the head coach at Garden City (Kan.) Community College.
Baumann has been the head coach of a junior college team for 13 years. He was at the helm at Lamar (Colo.) Community College for three seasons, led Garden City from 2006 to 2012 and Trinity Valley Community College in Athens for four years.
While at Trinity Valley, Baumann led the Cardinal to three national tournaments. During the 2015-2016 season, they finished 33-2, tying the school record for most wins. According to an Odessa College press release, Baumann’s overall coaching record is 280-146.
Baumann didn’t spend much time as a free agent, but is excited to get back in the junior college ranks.
“I wanted to go to a program that you could win a national championship at,” Baumann said.
Baumann said that Odessa College has a national-championship potential. He’s already recruiting to fill the Wranglers’ roster, as it only has two players returning from last season’s national-tournament team.
“We’re going to put good people on the floor,” Baumann said. “Tra has raised the bar with what he’s done the last two or three years.”
Most importantly, Baumann wants to put men of high character in Wranglers’ jerseys, who are also good basketball players.
“Kris wanted to coach for an elite NJCAA college, and Odessa College is definitely that,” Odessa College Athletic Director Wayne Baker said via a school release Wednesday night. “Kris is a strong recruiter, and he understands the role the community college plays in developing young athletes as good students, good people, and above all, student athletes who want to go on to play basketball at the university level.”
Now that Baumann is returning to the NJCAA circuit, he has the chance to elevate more talent. Odessa College has seen professionals like Larry Johnson, Craig Ehlo and Rodney Dent come through the program.
Recently, the Wranglers have sent Josh Gray, who appeared in five games with the Phoenix Suns this year, and Devin Davis, who appeared in the 2018 NCAA Tournament for the University of Houston, to four-year colleges.