Updated: Russ Pennell to become new UCA men's basketball coach

Russ Pennell, formerly a point guard for the University of Central Arkansas and a former assistant at Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Arizona State and Arizona, will become the new men’s basketball coach at the University of Central Arkansas.

He will replace Clarence Finley, who is serving as interim head coach this season after replacing Corliss Williamson this summer. The Bears will end the regular season this week with game at Northwestern State and Stephen F. Austin. The Bears are 7-19 this season.

Pennell, 53, is best known for taking the Univesity of Arizona to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 2009 after Lute Olsen resigned for health reasons. He then went on to Grand Canyon State, where was the head coach from 2009-2013 before being replaced by former Phoenis Suns player Dan Majerle after a 23-6 campaign. He then served as head coach of the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA until he resigned last year.

He's a native of Pittsburg, Kan., who played for the Arkansas Razorbacks before transferring to UCA to play point guard for Don Dyer.

He was a top assistant and major recruiter at Ole Miss  for coach Rob Evans and followed Evans when he became the head coach at Arizona State.

"He fits our profile great," said Dr. Brad Teague, UCA athletic director. "He's a team player. And he and his family are excited about coming to UCA."

UCA has set a  news conference at 1 p.m. Friday in the board room at Wingo Hall to introduce the new coach.

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