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Basketball Long Beach State

Reports: Long Beach State Hiring Chris Acker As Next Basketball Coach

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Photo of Acker from San Diego State athletics website

Reports from Jon Rothstein and other college basketball writers say that Long Beach State is finalizing a deal to hire San Diego State assistant Chris Acker as the Beach’s next men’s basketball coach. University officials did not immediately respond to request for confirmation.

First-year LBSU athletic director Bobby Smitheran came to the Beach after more than a decade at San Diego State, where he worked “intimately” with the basketball program there as it rose into a national power, per an interview with Smitheran after the university parted ways with former men’s basketball coach Dan Monson.

Acker was immediately thrown out by the national college basketball media as Smitheran’s likely target. He’s an assistant coach with the Aztecs, who are currently in the NCAA Tournament preparing for a Sweet Sixteen game tomorrow.

Acker is in his fifth year at SDSU and has been considered to be a rising star. He’s been an assistant at Boise State and Hawaii after coaching at the Junior College level in Southern California. Acker is an LA native and has recruited or coached a few Long Beach natives in his rise through the coaching ranks; he recruited Drew Buggs from Long Beach Poly to Hawaii after Buggs didn’t receive an offer from his “dream school,” Long Beach State. 

Buggs went on to set the career assists record at Hawaii in just three years. Acker also coached Poly point guard KJ Feagin at San Diego State, when the Aztecs were the top team in the country before COVID-19 shut down the NCAA Tournament.

When Smitheran was asked if being in the athletic department at SDSU affected his decision to move on from Monson and what he’s looking for in a coach, he had the following to say last week:

“I think we’re all guilty of being products of our environment,” he said. “The one that I just departed last year reached the national championship game. That was long term work and a process that took many years to achieve. There were baby steps and hard steps and commitments from the community and institution to achieve that. That’s how I’m viewing this next hire. Someone who wants to engage the community, represent Long Beach State University in a way that people get excited about, that recruits see a future in terms of their growth and development and that we’re going to position ourselves to compete for championships. It would be dishonest to say that (coming from SDSU) doesn’t have an influence. I spent 15 years at San Diego State watching that program grow. There’s a lot of lessons that I learned that will mold how I approach this hire.”

The university is hiring its first new men’s basketball coach since 2007, when Monson was hired for what has been a 17-year run. It became a national news story that Smitheran “parted ways” with Monson the week of the Big West Tournament, which Monson’s Beach team went on to win, punching a ticket to the team’s first NCAA Tournament in more than a decade. Smitheran promised a quick transition to the next era, a necessity with the transfer portal now open, and if the reports about Acker are correct, it is indeed a new day for Beach basketball.

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Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.