Richmond native joins Ball State coaching staff

Published: .
Updated: .

Billy Wright, a Richmond native with coaching experience at both the college and high school levels, has been hired as an assistant men's basketball coach at Ball State.

Wright, a former head coach at Pike High School in Indianapolis, comes to Ball State after serving most recently as the associate head coach at Western Illinois for Jim Molinari.

The former Richmond High School and Bradley University standout joins associate head coach Brett Nelson and fellow assistant Jason Grunkemeyer on new head coach James Whitford's first staff at Ball State.

"Billy comes very highly regarded from a lot of people in the state of Indiana," Whitford said. "He is well connected in the state. Billy was a great player at both Richmond High School and Bradley. He has worked for a person I respect a lot in Coach Molinari, who had great things to say about him. Billy has a great background as a person, as a player and as a successful coach."

Wright spent five seasons as an assistant at Western Illinois, including the past three as associate head coach. He helped Molinari -- a one-time Ball State assistant -- turn the program around.

Wright helped guide the Leathernecks to the first two postseason appearances in their 30-year NCAA Division I history with College Basketball Invitational berths in each of the past two seasons. In 2012-13, Western Illinois had its best season ever at the Division I level, posting a 22-9 record and sharing the Summit League regular season championship.

"This is a great opportunity, being from Indiana, to come back home and recruit the state of Indiana hard," Wright said. "Ball State is the right place in terms of being able to win. With the great tradition, facilities and support that are here, it has the ingredients to be a special place.

"I believe in Coach Whitford's philosophy and approach to the game, which was successful at Miami, Xavier and Arizona. That's something I definitely wanted to be a part of and assist him in bringing that success here to Ball State."

Before going to Western Illinois, Wright spent 12 years coaching high school basketball at Pike and Ben Davis High Schools in Indianapolis. He was the head coach at Pike for two seasons from 2006-08 after serving five years as a varsity assistant at the school.

During his time at Pike, Wright helped coach and develop three players who went on to be first-round NBA draft picks -- Courtney Lee (Orlando Magic, 2008), Jeff Teague (Atlanta Hawks, 2009) and Marquis Teague (Chicago Bulls, 2012).

As a player, Wright was an Indiana All-Star as a high school senior in 1992 after leading Richmond to a state championship. He went on to a have a standout career at Bradley, helping the Braves to a Missouri Valley Conference title and an NCAA Tournament appearance during his all-conference senior season in 1996. A three-time All-MVC Defensive Team selection, Wright was later inducted into the Bradley University Hall of Fame in 2007.

Wright earned his bachelor's degree from Bradley in 1996. He is married to Monica Wright.