The coach who has turned Danville Area into an upper echelon Division II junior college basketball program has been hired to keep Wabash Valley there in Division I.
Mike Carpenter, named the Region 24 coach of the year in March after a school-record setting 28-4 season at Danville, was hired by the IECC District 529 board on Monday to replace Dan Sparks at WVC. Sparks, a Hall of Fame coach, announced his retirement from in April after 869 wins, the last 163 coming in seven years at WVC where he is the winningest coach in history.
“I am extremely appreciative to the administration and selection committee at Wabash Valley College for choosing me as their head basketball coach,” Carpenter said in a prepared statement. “This is an opportunity I could not turn down and I am excited to work for a school that has such an outstanding reputation both athletically and academically. The tradition and commitment to excellence at WVC made this such an intriguing and exciting position.”
Those close to the selection process indicate that Carpenter was chosen after four finalist interviews from an initial pool of around 30 applicants.
Carpenter, a native of Linton, Ind., has been in college coaching for 19 years, as an assistant at Western Illinois, St. Francis and at Danville before being named the Jaguars head coach in 2006. He has also served twice as an assistant for the USA All-Star team.
His seven Danville teams won 139 games, six with 20 or more wins. The Jags have made it to the NJCAA Division II Final Four once and the Elite Eight on another occasion. In addition to the school record 28-4 finish this season, Danville won 17 games in a row at one point, also a school mark.
Carpenter said there is “no doubt I have big shoes to fill” in replacing Sparks. He said Sparks and his staff “had an outstanding run in their time at Wabash Valley, and they have been a tremendous help during the transition period.”
The Warriors finished 17-14 this past season, one which was split virtually in half coinciding with the injury and eventual recovery of inside players Chris Griffin and Phillip Jackson. Once fully healthy, WVC became a serious contender for the Region 24 championship, losing in the finals to Vincennes, 76-55.
“We are in the process of recruiting and feel very good about the young men we are bringing into the WVC family,” Carpenter said. “We play an up-tempo style and will play extremely hard on both ends of the court.”
Carpenter has sent 32 of his 38 sophomores on to four-year schools, six of those at the NCAA Division I level. Seven others have gone on to play professionally.
The new Warrior coach has extensive summer camp experience. He has been a staff member for the Bob Knight Basketball School. He has worked camps and clinics on the island of Antigua and was the director of two camps in England.
At Linton, Carpenter was a standout athlete in basketball and baseball earning seven varsity letters and numerous all-conference and all-area awards. He was also named to the Southern Indiana all-star team in baseball.
He is the son of Bill and Diane Carpenter, who also reside in Linton.