BOONE, N.C. — Jason Capel has been hired as the 15th men’s basketball head coach in Appalachian State University history, director of athletics Charlie Cobb announced on Wednesday.
“We are incredibly excited about the future of Appalachian men’s basketball under the leadership of Jason Capel,” Cobb said. “Coach Capel’s wealth of life experiences have led to him developing many of the qualities that we were looking for in a head coach, including maturity, humility and a presence that impresses anyone that comes in contact with him. I look forward to Coach Capel helping us achieve the championship aspirations that we have for our men’s basketball program here at Appalachian.”
At 30 years, three months and six days old, Capel is the nation’s youngest NCAA Division I head coach, three months and six days younger than Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Brian Wardle. However, despite a relative lack of coaching experience, Capel is a basketball lifer with a vast playing resume and a spot in one of college basketball’s top coaching lineages.
Capel first burst on to the national scene as a star forward at North Carolina from 1998-2002, where he was a two-time all-Atlantic Coast Conference selection (2001 and ‘02) and the Tar Heels’ leader in scoring (15.6 points per game, rebounds (8.6 per game) and steals (29) as a senior. He helped lead UNC to the Final Four in 2000, recorded the second triple-double in UNC history with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against Buffalo during the 2000-01 season and was a candidate for 2002 Wooden Award, which is presented annually to college basketball’s most outstanding player.
After graduating from North Carolina with a B.A. in communication in 2002, Capel embarked on a professional playing career, which included successful stints in the NBA Developmental League and leagues in Japan, Italy and Serbia. In his first season as a pro, he averaged 11.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game to help lead the NBDL’s Fayetteville Patriots, which were coached by his father, Jeff, to a league-best 32-18 record and a D-League Finals appearance.
Following the conclusion of his playing career, he spent two years as a college basketball analyst for ESPNU and Raycom Sports before joining ASU’s staff last summer.
In his only season as an assistant coach, Capel helped lead the Mountaineers to the second-most victories in school history (24), their first Southern Conference Tournament title-game appearance since 2000 and a berth in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT), only the fourth postseason appearance since joining the NCAA Division I ranks in 1973. ASU’s CIT wins over Harvard and Marshall, which earned it a berth in the tournament’s semifinals, were the first D-I postseason victories in school history.
Capel is a member of one of college basketball’s most distinguished coaching families. His father, Jeff, compiled 122 wins and made three NCAA Tournament appearances in 12 seasons as head coach at Old Dominion, North Carolina A&T and Fayetteville State prior to moving to the professional ranks where he now serves as an assistant with the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats.
Jason’s brother, Jeff III, is the head coach at Oklahoma, where he has led the Sooners to two NCAA Tournament appearances in four seasons and was just one win away from advancing to the Final Four in 2009. Like Jason, Jeff was the nation’s youngest head coach when he took the reins at VCU in 2002 at the age of 27. He became head coach at VCU after just two years as an assistant and earned two postseason berths with the Rams, including a spot in the 2004 NCAA Tournament.
A native of Fayetteville, N.C., Capel was a McDonald’s All-American and ranked as high as the nation’s No. 5 high-school player after concluding his prep career at St. John’s at Prospect Hall (Frederick, Md.), where he helped lead his team to the USA Today national championship in 1998. He spent his freshman and sophomore years at Indian River H.S. (Chesapeake, Va.), where he was named Virginia’s Player of the Year as a sophomore. He began his prep career as an eighth-grader, when he made the varsity team at Greensboro Day School while his father was head coach at N.C. A&T.
Capel’s hiring marks the second time in ASU history that the school has been home to the nation’s youngest NCAA Division I men’s basketball head coach. In 1975, Bobby Cremins became the nation’s youngest head coach when he was hired by director of athletics Jim Jones at the age of 28. In six seasons at Appalachian, Cremins led the Mountaineers to three Southern Conference championships and the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament berth in 1979.
“I’m very excited and thankful for this opportunity,” Capel said. “I want to thank (ASU chancellor) Dr. (Kenneth) Peacock and Charlie Cobb for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to head up this program and lead it to the next level of Appalachian State basketball. I also want to thank Coach (Buzz) Peterson for giving me the opportunity to come to Appalachian and opening the door into college coaching for me. I’m very grateful to him for that. We have a great group of guys in place in our program and I’m really proud to be able to coach them. I know that we're all in this together and I’m ready to work hard.”
Capel is single and resides in Boone.
Birthdate: January 15, 1980 (the only NCAA Division I head coach born in the 1980s)
Alma Mater: North Carolina, 2002 (B.A. communication)
1993-94 — Greensboro (N.C.) Day School
1994-96 — Chesapeake (Va.) Indian River H.S.
1996-98 — St. John’s at Prospect Hall (Frederick, Md.)
1998-2002 — North Carolina
2002-04 — Fayetteville Patriots (NBDL)
2004-05 — Kariya Aishin Sea Horses (JBL - Japan)
2005-06 — BT Roseto (Serie A - Italy)
2006 — Air Avellino (Serie A - Italy)
2007 — KK Crvena Zvezda Beograd (A-League - Serbia)
2009-10 — Appalachian State (Assistant Coach)
2010- — Appalachian State (Head Coach)
NCAA Division I’s Youngest Men’s Basketball Head Coaches
Jason Capel – Appalachian State (30 years, three months, six days)
Brian Wardle – Wisconsin-Green Bay (30 years, six months, 12 days)
Dane Fife – IPFW (30 years, eight months, 27 days)
Josh Pastner – Memphis (32 years, six months, 26 days)
Brad Stevens - Butler (33 years, five months, 30 days)
Jeff Capel – Oklahoma (35 years, two months, eight days)
Scott Cross – Texas-Arlington (35 years, four months, 18 days)
Sydney Johnson – Princeton (35 years, 11 months, 26 days)
Byron Rimm, Jr. – Prarie View A&M (36 years, two months, 21 days)
Tommy Dempsey – Rider (36 years, two months, 25 days)