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Former Fort Lewis men’s basketball assistants find new homes

Ty Danielson and Jeff Evans were essential to the Skyhawks’ success
Former Fort Lewis College associate head coach Ty Danielson calls out to his team on March 9, 2024, while playing Colorado Mesa University in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament championship game in Grand Junction. (Jerry McBride/Durango file photo)

After the Fort Lewis Athletics Department quickly moved on from former men’s basketball coach Bob Pietrack, his former staff have moved on to new opportunities.

Former associate head coach Ty Danielson has started as an assistant coach at Division II Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. Former assistant coach Jeff Evans will begin working as an assistant coach at Division II St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas later this summer.

Danielson spent three years on the FLC staff and two years as the associate head coach. During his three years with the team, FLC went 77-17 and won two Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament championships and one RMAC regular season championship.

After Danielson lost his father in 2023, he wanted to move closer to Nebraska to be closer to his family. Danielson also played at Division II Nebraska-Kearney which is in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) with Washburn. So Danielson played against Washburn for four years and got his first coaching gig at Missouri Western which is also in the MIAA.

“In a sense, it was comfortable,” Danielson said about his move to Washburn. “I know the league well, I've competed in it for eight-plus years. I'm not going to be surprised, going on the road in different locations … I got on their board the same way. Coach Ballard knew me as a player and as a young and upcoming coach.”

Danielson described his time in Durango as, “an amazing three years.” He’ll miss the atmosphere at Whalen Gymnasium on Friday and Saturday nights as those were some of the best atmospheres he’s been in. He’ll miss the 3,000 fans at games, the community of Durango, the city of Durango and the golf in Durango.

At Washburn, Danielson expects to win again and compete at the top of the MIAA with Washburn returning their whole team after going 19-11 in 2023-2024. He said he learned at FLC how to get a team prepared to play with a target on their back that comes with being one of the best teams in a conference.

Evans only spent one year at FLC. Before FLC, Evans had a hall-of-fame high school basketball coaching career in Texas while spending 23 years at Palo Duro High School in Amarillo, Texas and racking up 546 wins.

The legendary high school coach in Amarillo made an immediate impact at FLC and was the architect of FLC’s full-court pressing defense this past season which was invaluable for the Skyhawks as they finished 29-4 for the second straight season.

Evans joins St. Edward’s men’s basketball coach Andre Cook’s staff after the Hilltoppers went 21-11 overall and 14-7 in the Lone Star Conference in 2023-2024.

“Coaching high school in Texas for 32 years, I've gotten to know quite a few coaches in the state so Andre Cook has been a friend of mine for 10 or more years,” Evans said. “When I decided to retire from high school coaching, he was one of the coaches I knew I would enjoy working with. So when everything happened at the end of our season with the disbursement of coaches he happened to have an assistant spot opening. So the timing worked out well, but mainly because I've known him for so long. At this point, I wouldn't just go work for anybody.”

Evans said the plan for him is to focus on the defensive side of the court for St. Edward’s and put together a similar pressing style of defense that FLC had this past year.

Despite only living in Durango for a year, Evans and wife Tricia have grown to love living in Durango and plan to spend time in Durango when they can going forward. Evans said it’s the place he’d love to settle down in when he’s done coaching.

Evans enjoyed the people in Durango and the people at FLC including Director of Athletics Travis Whipple. He also loved the group they had last year and how easy they were to work with and coach. Evans and his wife are looking forward to keeping up with all the players he coached at FLC at their new destinations.

bkelly@durangoherald.com