Just a few days after Buzz Peterson bolted from Appalachian State and headed to greener financial pastures at UNC Wilmington, the Mountaineers found their new head coach in former UNC forward Jason Capel. Capel was an assistant coach under Peterson at App State, arriving on campus last June. Capel’s older brother Jeff is the current head coach at Oklahoma, while his father continues to work as an assistant for the Charlotte Bobcats.
It’s not a pick without some head scratching.
Capel’s entire coaching experience is the work he’s done at ASU since last June. Prior to that, he was a broadcast announcer for two seasons.
Jason Capel’s experience as a player includes four years at UNC, including a Final Four appearance in 2000, then playing professionally in Serbia, Japan, Italy and the NBDL.
One thing is certain: Capel’s family coaching tree is nothing to take lightly. His father was a solid college coach in his own right before deciding to move to the NBA, and his brother Jeff, probably more famous in the ACC for his nearly half court shot in 1995 against UNC, has proven his merit at Oklahoma. Appalachian may be hoping to find the next Brad Stevens before someone else does, but it’s a gamble nonetheless. Capel was outspoken and a leader as a player, playing on a Final Four team and then only two years later landing on the worst team in UNC history, a team that only won eight games. Jason returned the next season to encourage the newly arriving players, which included Raymond Felton, Sean May and Rashad McCants, to bring the UNC program back to it’s former heights.
Perhaps Appalachian has spotted Capel’s abilities after less than a year, or perhaps they are banking on the coaching success his brother and father have had, but it’s interesting that this time the school decided not to draw the process out. Last season’s long process to bring Buzz Peterson back to Boone has had an effect that they did not want repeated, and now Capel can get in a few days of recruiting in a window of time that is quickly closing.