David Riley, a 2007 graduate of Gunn High School, has been named men’s basketball head coach at Eastern Washington University.
Riley was a standout 3-point shooting guard during his playing days at Gunn and at Whitworth College in Spokane. He has been part of the Eastern Washington program since 2011, first as director of basketball operations, then as an assistant coach and now as head coach.
You could say that Riley was almost fated to become a coach. His grandfather, Bud Riley, was an assistant football coach at Oregon State and Idaho and the head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League. His uncle, Mike Riley, has served as head coach of the San Diego Chargers, Oregon State and Nebraska. A brother, Noah Riley, was hired a few days ago to join the staff with the Baltimore Ravens.
“Being a coach is in his genes,’’ said outgoing Eastern Washington coach Shantay Legans, who after leading the Eagles to the Big Sky Conference championship and giving Kansas a scare in the NCAA Tournament was hired at the University of Portland, opening the EWU head coaching position for Riley.
“Initially I wanted to be a high school coach,’’ Riley said. “It’s something I always wanted to do.’’
His father, Ed Riley, is a professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Having spent the past 14 years in Spokane and Cheney in the far eastern portion of the state of Washington, Riley has watched Gonzaga’s ascent to the top of the college basketball world from an up-close vantage point.
“They’re the blueprint on what we want to do,’’ he said.
Riley played on some good teams in his high school days at Gunn. The Titans went 19-10 his senior year.
“We never made it too far in CCS,’’ Riley said. “My junior year we had to compete with Jeremy Lin at Palo Alto.’’
Riley played for Jim Hayford at Whitworth on teams that went a combined 98-18 over his four years. Riley was voted to the Northwest Conference first team his final three years at Whitworth.
He finished with 1,664 points (14.6 per game) to rank fourth in Whitworth history and made 43.1 percent of his 3-point attempts (300-of-696).
Riley, who became one of the six youngest coaches in Division I, graduated from Whitworth with a degree in mathematical economics.
Hayford left Whitworth to take the Eastern Washington job and Riley followed. As an assistant he was on Hayford’s staff for three years and was with Legans for four years, eventually as associate head coach.
Now his opportunity to be the head coach is here.
“We’re going to spread the court, play up-tempo, shoot a lot of 3s,’’ Riley said. “It’s a fun style to play. I’m excited. I put in a lot of hard work and got lucky, I’m blessed to be able to put my own stamp on things. The goal is to develop guys and make them better.’’