ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – St. Bonaventure University Director of Athletics Tim Kenney has announced the hiring of Jesse Fleming '05 as new women's basketball head coach.
One of the top assistant coaches in the nation, Fleming spent the past four seasons at Bowling Green, most recently as associate head coach under head coach Jennifer Roos.
Prior to his time at BG, he was key to the growth of St. Bonaventure's program with 11 years under previous head coach Jim Crowley, working his way up from a student manager to assistant coach and finally Associate Head Coach in 2010-11.
"We couldn't be more excited to welcome Jesse back to St. Bonaventure," Kenney said. "His experience and passion for our program make him a natural fit. Jesse is a strong recruiter, tremendous basketball mind and someone who will inspire our players, fans and alumni. We look forward to watching Jesse and his staff build upon the success of our women's basketball program."
Fleming becomes the seventh head coach in program history and inherits a team that finished last season 24-8 overall and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the sixth post-season appearance for the Bonnies in the past eight years.
"I am honored and thrilled to return to my home, St. Bonaventure University," Fleming said. "I can't thank Tim Kenney, Sister Margaret Carney, Barb Questa and Steve Campbell enough for this opportunity. This is a dream come true for me. I am so excited to carry on the great tradition of St. Bonaventure women's basketball. We can't wait to get started."
At Bowling Green, Fleming helped guide the Falcons' program to the Mid-American Conference Championship in 2014 as the Falcons reached 30 wins. In his four seasons, Fleming helped lead the Falcons to an overall record of 73-55 including a 5-2 mark in the Women's National Invitation Tournament. In 2013, the Falcons reached the third round of the WNIT. In 2014, BGSU advanced to the Elite 8 of the tournament while also earning a national Top 25 ranking. The Falcons competed with some of the top teams in the country during Fleming's stint on staff, defeating Michigan twice as well as Ohio State, Cincinnati and Dayton. Among other duties, Fleming served as BG's defensive coach, helping the Falcons set a new school record in 2012-13 by allowing just 54.5 points per game including 51.9 ppg in MAC play.
In May of 2014, Fleming was rated 20th in the nation among assistant coaches by Felicia Hall & Associates. Coaches were chosen based on criteria which included team success, team improvement from previous season, fulfillment of team potential, and the professional manner and attitude of the coach. He was also one of 40 coaches selected for the WBCA Assistant Coaches Leadership Workshop at Parris Island Marine Corps base.
Before his move to Ohio, Fleming spent one season as an assistant coach at Stony Brook University under current VCU head coach Beth O'Boyle. There, his work in recruiting helped the Seawolves improve their win total by 10 victories from 2011-12 to 2012-13 as Stony Brook posted the fifth-best turnaround in the nation. At Stony Brook, Fleming recruits Chikilra Goodman and Sabre Proctor went on to America East Defensive Player of the Year and first team all-conference selections.
Fleming's hiring at St. Bonaventure is a return home for the Guilford, N.Y. native. He moved up the ranks from serving as Crowley's head team manager for four years as an undergraduate to taking a place on the coaching staff in 2005 following his graduation and a short stay as an assistant at Louisburg (N.C.) College. During his undergraduate years, Fleming also worked as a volunteer assistant coach at Olean High School.
Though he had left the previous summer to take his position at Stony Brook, the heart of St. Bonaventure's 2012 Sweet 16 team was molded by Fleming's influence. He was a crucial part of St. Bonaventure's rise to the top of the Atlantic 10, helping recruit some of the best players in program history while also working with Crowley to institute a new coaching philosophy that would pay dividends. Fleming's recruits included Dana Mitchell, who would finish her career as the second-leading scorer in program history. Mitchell also became the first Bona women's player to have her jersey retired.
The road that ultimately led St. Bonaventure to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances began with Fleming on the staff. From 2008-10, the Bonnies recorded three straight 20-win seasons including the school's first-ever trip to the postseason, a WNIT appearance in 2009 that extended into the third round. During Fleming's time with the program, the Bonnies established new program records for victories four times.
While with St. Bonaventure, Fleming facilitated the development of 1,000-point scorers Mitchell, Megan Van Tatenhove, Jessica Jenkins and Katelyn Murray.
Fleming graduated with honors from St. Bonaventure with a degree in journalism and mass communications in 2005. He is married to the former Stephanie O'Callaghan, who previously served as St. Bonaventure's men's and women's diving coach.
A press conference to re-introduce Fleming to the media and St. Bonaventure community will be held on Thursday, June 2 at a time to be released later in the Reilly Center Hall of Fame Room.
Fleming will begin his duties immediately.