Ricky Stokes was appointed the 21st head men's basketball coach at East Carolina University by director of athletics Terry Holland on Wednesday, March 16, 2005.
Stokes, who has played an active role on coaching staffs which have made nine NCAA Tournament appearances since 1991, including two Sweet Sixteen and one Elite Eight showing, will officially ended a two-year assistant coaching position at South Carolina after the Gamecocks' captured the 2005 National Invitational Tournament (NIT) title.
"Ricky has spent his whole life proving that it does not matter what your size may be or what other people think, as long as you believe in yourself and do things the right way," said Holland. "Two Final Fours and the Francis Pomeroy Naismith Award as the nation's top collegian under six feet as well as his work in helping to build nationally competitive programs at four different institutions as a coach clearly show that his approach brings success for everyone involved."
A 13-time NCAA Tournament veteran and two-time Final Four contributor as both a player and assistant coach, Stokes also arrives at East Carolina with four years of head coaching experience -- directing Virginia Tech's growth and competitiveness from the Atlantic 10 Conference (1999-2000) to the Big East Conference (2000-2003) while guiding the Hokies to 46 victories.
Stokes recruited the core of this season's Virginia Tech team, which finished in fourth place in the Atlantic Coast Conference and received a bid to the NIT under first-year head coach Seth Greenberg, who was voted 2005 ACC Coach of the Year.
After completing an illustrious playing career at Virginia, which included three consecutive ACC championships and four straight NCAA Tournament appearances, Stokes initiated his full-time coaching career with a one-year stay at Bowling Green (1988-89) before joining Dave Odom's first staff at Wake Forest in 1989.
During his eight seasons in Winston-Salem, Stokes was credited with recruiting and/or coaching notables such as 1997 College Player-of-the-Year Tim Duncan and NBA first-round picks Randolph Childress and Rodney Rogers. In addition, he was also responsible for the recruitment of McDonald's All-America center Loren Woods and 1997-98 ACC Freshman-of-the-Year Robert O'Kelley. Stokes' expertise in tutoring and developing stellar guard play was evident in the success of All-America honoree Childress and fellow backcourt mates Marc Blucas, Derrick McQueen, Anthony Tucker, Rusty LaRue, Tony Rutland and Jerry Braswell.
During Stokes' eight-year stay at Wake Forest, the Demon Deacons advanced to the NCAA Tournament seven times, which included an Elite Eight appearance in 1995-96 and a pair of Sweet Sixteen nods in 1992-93 and 1994-95.
Stokes returned to his alma mater, accepting an assistant's position at Virginia under former college teammate Jeff Jones during the 1997-98 campaign before joining Rick Barnes' staff at Clemson just two weeks before Barnes' accepted the head coaching position at Texas. He followed Barnes to Austin, where he spent the 1998-99 season as associate head coach and played an integral role in helping the Longhorns to a 19-13 overall record, a 13-3 Big 12 Conference mark, which included the school's first-ever basketball league title, and a NCAA first-round showing. Despite his relocation to an unfamiliar Southwest geographic area, Stokes' relentless recruiting efforts resulted in the signing of three of the top 10 players in the state of Texas during the fall signing period.
During his memorable playing career at Virginia, Stokes played in a school-record 134 consecutive games and helped lead the Cavaliers to a 109-25 (.813) overall mark and a 43-13 (.768) ACC record en-route to three straight league championships (1980-81, 1981-82 and 1982-83). As a freshman in 1980-81, he played point guard for UVa's Final Four squad which also marked the beginning of four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. In fact, the Cavs earned the No. 1 tourney seed in each of the last three years of the Ralph Sampson Era (1980-83).
Despite Sampson's departure, Stokes sharpened his leadership skills even more as the program's co-captain and guided Virginia to the Final Four in Seattle, Wash., despite finishing fifth during the ACC's regular season schedule. He was rewarded for his determination and play, earning the Virginia Basketball Leadership Award and, on the national level, was honored with the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, which is presented annually to the country's finest player under six-feet tall.
Off the court, Stokes was also recognized for his contributions to the university as he earned the honor of residing on The Lawn and was selected to the prestigious IMP Society.
After earning a bachelor's degree in psychology from Virginia in 1984, Stokes served as a graduate assistant coach for the Cavaliers in 1984-85 before entering private business for two years. He remained involved in coaching as an assistant at alma mater Highland Springs (Va.) High School in Richmond while completing requirements for a master's degree in counselor education at nearby Virginia Commonwealth in 1988.
He and wife Karen are the parents of a daughter, Sydney (9).