George Mason, American Named Two Locals to Head Basketball Program

WASHINGTON INFORMER: As college basketball came to a close with the recent NCAA Tournament, it has just begun for two of the local schools. During the past week, George Mason and American University announced the new head men’s basketball coaches. George Mason tabbed former standout Tony Skinn and American selected Duane Simpkins.

American University basketball coach Duane Simpkins (Courtesy photo)
American University basketball coach Duane Simpkins (Courtesy photo)

Both played locally — Skinn at Takoma Academy and Simpkins at DeMatha. This is the first head coaching opportunity for each.

Skinn led the Patriots to their only Final Four appearance while Simpkins helped guide Maryland to two Sweet 16 appearances during his career in College Park.

It seems only natural that those respective schools would take notes on what Kenneth Blakeney, another local native (DeMatha) did with the Howard University program in just four years, leading the Bison to their first MEAC regular season and tournament title in 31 years.  

Skinn was a starter on the 2006 Patriots Final Four team. He has paid his dues after serving as assistant coach at Louisiana Tech, Seton Hall, Ohio State and most recently at Maryland.

He spent this past season on Kevin Willard’s staff at Maryland, where he helped lead the Terps to a 22-13 record and an NCAA Tournament victory over West Virginia.

A two-time All-CAA selection with the Patriots from 2003-2006, Skinn scored 1,079 career points while starting 68 games in his George Mason career. During the 2006 NCAA Tournament, he averaged 11.3 points and shot 35% from three-point range while leading the Patriots to the national semifinals.

“It is with great excitement that I return home to George Mason,” Skinn said in a statement. “I am committed to greatness! We will set our standards high, hustle every step of the way and compete amongst the best. It’s an unbelievable feeling to step back on campus. I’ve had some of my greatest memories here and I’m looking forward to making new ones with our fans and our community. Our best days are ahead!”

Simpkins spent the past eight years at George Mason, where the team finished with a 20-13 record this season. He previously served as an assistant at UNC Greensboro for three seasons.  He also had stops at Towson, UNC Greensboro and at the high school level at Sidwell Friends and St. Albans.

Simpkins earned McDonald’s high school all-American honors at DeMatha and was All-ACC honorable mention three times while helping the Terrapins to three NCAA tournaments, including a pair of Sweet 16 appearances. A former Maryland captain, Simpkins still ranks eighth.

“We are thrilled to welcome Duane Simpkins, a proven talent and respected coach into our AU Athletics family,” American Athletic Director Billy Walker said in a statement. “His passion for positively shaping the lives of young student-athletes was evident during the selection process. His close ties to the area as a coach and player, along with a tremendous recruiting acumen and unbending character, make him an ideal choice to lead our program.”

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