July 13, 2011
HOUSTON - Three University of Houston basketball coaches recently took part in a program that recognizes the nation's top young assistant coaches.
Men's assistant Ulric Maligi and women's assistants Ravon Justice and Leah Foster joined some of the most talented coaches from across the country for the NCAA and BCA Achieving Coaching Excellence Program in Indianapolis in early June.
Of the 24 assistant coaches in attendance, three were represented by the University of Houston.
The ACE Program was created to prepare racial and ethnic minority basketball coaches for success as future head coaches. Maligi, Justice and Foster joined the other participants in receiving training and education in the areas of leadership, communication, campus relations, media, community involvement and program management.
They also interacted with current NCAA head coaches, director of athletics and administrators.
In his first season with the Cougars, Maligi helped lead the Cougars to a win against No. 19/18 UCF in early January in Hofheinz Pavilion. He joined head coach James Dickey's staff after an award-winning career and a pair of postseason appearances during a three-year stint at Stephen F. Austin.
"I was very excited that Ulric was selected to participate in the ACE Program. It was a most deserving honor for him," head coach James Dickey said. "He is one of the bright young stars in our coaching profession and will certainly be a head coach in the very near future."
Justice was in her first season with the Cougars in 2010-11 and helped lead Houston to one of the most memorable campaigns in school history. The Cougars finished with a 26-6 overall record, including a perfect 16-0 mark in Conference USA play.
Houston advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005 with senior forward Courtney Taylor sweeping the Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors and head coach Todd Buchanan winning the league's Coach of the Year award.
"Ravon is one of the absolute finest rising stars in college basketball coaching," Buchanan said. "She has been with me for seven years, and it has been a pleasure watching her grow not only as a coach but as a person."
Foster will be in her first season with the Cougars when the 2011-12 season opens. She spent the previous three seasons as an assistant coach at Dartmouth, where she was responsible for scouting, recruiting, player development, scheduling and team operations.
In three seasons there, she helped mentor four student-athletes to All-Ivy honors, including the 2009 Ivy League Player of the Year.
She also worked at Texas State and was a four-year letterwinner at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas.
"Leah will be a fantastic mentor for our student-athletes," head coach Todd Buchanan said when Foster was hired in late June. "She's certainly a rising star in this profession and in the recruiting game."