Former Seahawk joins UNCW basketball coaching staff

Former Seahawk joins UNCW basketball coaching staff
UNCW tops Hofstra 80-73 in a come from behind overtime victory to take the Colonial Athletic Association Men's Basketball championship at Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, MD March 7, 2016. PHOTO COURTESY CAA (Source: Rafael Suanes/RCS Photography)

WILMINGTON, N.C. (UNCW release) - Craig Ponder, who already owns UNCW’s record for games played in men’s basketball with 130 appearances from 2011-16, will return to the Seahawk bench at Trask Coliseum this season.

Head Coach Takayo Siddle on Friday announced that Ponder has been appointed as Director of Basketball Operations for his new staff. Ponder becomes the 11th person to hold the position since it was created in 1999-00.

“"Craig is a great addition to our staff," said Siddle."He’s familiar with the university and the city of Wilmington. Craig’s familiarity will be of great importance to our program. He is a solid young man who is eager to get his start in college coaching and his enthusiasm for the game and for his alma mater will rub off on our players."

Ponder most recently served as a graduate manager on Kevin Keatts’ staff at NC State. He also worked as a graduate assistant coach at Arkansas State for one year after retiring from professional basketball during a short stint overseas in England.

The Bluefield, W.Va., native will assist Siddle and the Seahawks with all facets of the NCAA Division I program, including travel, practice planning, arranging community service and other duties.

“Coming back and working at UNCW has always been a dream of mine,” said Ponder. “I’ve been eager to get back on campus and rekindle the flame with everyone. I’m very excited. I want to serve the university, its student-athletes and be the best I can be for Seahawk Nation.

“Coach Siddle and I have built a very good relationship. As a player, I always dreamed of coming back here and serving the university. I just didn’t know that it would be this soon. I want to keep sharpening my tools and skillset for the future.”

An outstanding guard at Bluefield High School and Hargrave Military Academy, Ponder arrived at UNCW in the fall of 2011 and played in just four games during his freshman campaign before a foot injury cut short his rookie season. After redshirting, he helped the program improve each season and notch a pair of postseason berths.

As a junior in 2014-15, Ponder was the only player to start all 32 games and ranked third in scoring (11.6) and second in assists (2.6 apg). He paced the squad with 46 three-pointers, led the team in scoring seven times and reached double figures in 22 contests. The Seahawks picked up their first postseason berth in nine years with an invitation to the play in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.

The Seahawks then captured their fifth Colonial Athletic Association championship in Ponder’s senior year in 2015-16. He opened 24 of 33 games and ranked third on the team in scoring (11.4), while contributing 76 assists. The Seahawks went a sparkling 25-8 overall and 17-4 in the CAA en route to the NCAA Tournament.

Ponder’s name remains prominent in UNCW’s record books. In addition to being the school’s all-time leader in appearances, he ranks 14th in scoring (1,160), 42nd in rebounding (338), 15th in steals (15) and 16th in assists (257).

Ponder earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Communication Studies from UNCW in 2016.

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