In seven years, Darren “Dip” Metress has taken Augusta State Basketball from a losing record to national prominence.
Metress, who was named the fifth head coach in the program’s history on May 10, 2004, wasted little time in rebuilding the Jaguars. He won 19 games in his first season and led ASU to victories over three nationally-ranked opponents.
Metress added 15 wins in his second season and then, in just his third year, guided ASU to, what was at the time, its second-best season in school history in 2006-07.
Not only did the Jags win 24 games and a PBC regular-season championship that season, Metress was named Peach Belt Conference Coach-of-the-Year and ASU earned a No. 1 regional seeding. The Jags served as hosts of the NCAA South Atlantic Regional, advancing to the semifinals and earning a season-ending No. 18 national ranking.
In 2007-08, it got even better. Metress guided ASU to what was, at the time, the top season in school history, posting a 27-7 record and advancing all the way to the NCAA Tournament’s National Championship game and a national television appearance on CBS. Along the way, the Jags achieved the highest national ranking in school history at No. 5 and clinched their first South Atlantic Region championship, earning their first berth in the Elite Eight in Springfield, Mass., in the process.
A season later, Metress guided ASU to a 30-5 record in 2008-09 that included a then school-record No. 3 national ranking, a sweep of the PBC regular-season and tournament championships, a second straight NCAA Regional Championship, and a return trip to the Elite Eight. ASU lost in the National Semifinals to Cal Poly Pomona (74-70), but garnered more national respect with the selection of Garret Siler and Ben Madgen as All-Americans, and finished the year with a No. 4 national ranking.
In 2009-10, the Jags ascended to the top of the national rankings, earning the No. 1 ranking for the first time in school history on two separate occasions and posting their third Peach Belt Conference title in the last four seasons.
Ben Madgen was one of three finalists for National Player-of-the-Year and an All-American for the second straight season while ASU posted a 29-4 record and made its third consecutive Elite Eight appearance.
Metress may have saved his best coaching job for last season. Faced with the daunting task of replacing all five starters who were responsible for 116 wins the previous four seasons, Metress guided the 2010-11 Jaguars to the winningest season (in terms of percentage) in school history at 30-4 (.882).
ASU claimed both the PBC regular-season and tournament titles and hosted an NCAA Regional for the fifth consecutive season. Only a 75-73 overtime loss to Anderson in the NCAA Southeast Regional title game kept the Jags from making their fourth consecutive trip to the Elite Eight.
With Metress at the helm, ASU has also made Christenberry Fieldhouse one of the toughest places to play in the Southeast, if not the country. The Jags have led the Peach Belt Conference in attendance and created a definite homecourt advantage. The Jags have posted a 81-10 (.890) record in Christenberry Fieldhouse -- including a recent stretch of 33 consecutive home wins -- and a student group initiated by Metress and originally known as the “Blue Crew” and now referred to as “Jag Swag” has rallied around the program, providing a “big game” atmosphere every time ASU takes the home floor.
Equally successful on the recruiting trail, Metress’ eye for talent has translated into two Jags winning PBC Freshman of the Year honors over the last five seasons while AJ Bowman -- Metress’ first recruit when he accepted the ASU head job -- won back-to-back PBC Player of the Year honors in 2006-07 and 2007-08. He was also named Player-Of-The-Year in the state of Georgia and was the first player in ASU history to be voted a two-time All-American when he earned national accolades as both a junior and a senior.
Metress returned to Augusta following a highly successful, eight-year stint as head men’s basketball coach at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C. During his tenure, Metress guided his alma mater to a 134-103 (.565) record, including a 117-66 (.639) mark over his last six years.
In his last four years at the Abbey, the Crusaders posted a 40-8 (.833) record at home and an overall mark of 84-35 (.706), and in the last three years, they were 68-23 (.747). He also served as Compliance Director at Belmont Abbey from 1997-2004.
Metress guided Belmont Abbey to a pair of CVAC (Carolina-Virginia Athletic Conference) Tournament titles in 2001-02 and 2002-03. The Crusaders made a pair of Division II NCAA Tournament appearances during that span, advancing to the East Region Semifinals in 2002. They earned the highest national ranking in school history in 2002-03 when they stood 11th in the final poll.
Metress’ 2001-02 Crusader squad caught the attention of college basketball fans when it defeated Division I College of Charleston 70-67 in Charleston, S.C., snapping the Cougars’ 22-game home winning streak, which ranked as the fifth-longest in the nation.
During that magical campaign, Belmont Abbey won the CVAC regular-season and tournament titles, earned a final No. 3 East Region ranking and posted a 25-6 record. Metress earned CVAC Coach-of-the-Year and East Region Coach-of-the-Year honors.
A former Augusta State assistant, Metress served on the Jaguars’ coaching staff under former head coach and current Director of Athletics Clint Bryant from 1989-1995. During those six seasons, Metress oversaw preseason and postseason workouts, monitored academic progress and coordinated the Jags’ recruiting efforts under Bryant.
Metress has also helped spur the careers of several assistants. His former aides who have continued their coaching careers include: Jeff Brookman, head men’s coach at Spartanburg Methodist College; Nate Dixon, an assistant men’s coach at Wyoming; Ganon Baker, player development assistant for the Nike Skills Academy; Jay Newberry, who spent two seasons on Metress’ staff at ASU before joining the Ball State men’s coaching staff; and most recently Jamie Quarles, Metress’ current assistant at ASU and former assistant men’s coach at King College in Bristol, Tenn.
Off the court, Metress has been equally successful. Under his tutelage, 34 of 36 Augusta State and Belmont Abbey seniors who have finished their eligibility have either graduated or are on track to earn their degrees. The Jaguar and Crusader basketball camps have been a huge success, averaging over 200 campers.
A 1988 graduate of Belmont Abbey with a B.A. in Political Science, Metress earned his M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision from Augusta State in 1992.
Metress, 45, is married to the former Heather Bradford of Lincolnton, Ga. They are the parents of a daughter, Elizabeth Margaret.
A veteran of more than 40 years of coaching at all levels of basketball, Lenny Carlson is in his third tenure serving on the Augusta State men’s basketball coaching staff.
Back for his fourth season as a valuable aid to Jaguar head coach Dip Metress -- and first season since the 2008-09 campaign -- Carlson has played a prominent role in the development of the Jaguar big men with his emphasis on fundamentals and individual instruction.
Carlson’s association with Jaguar basketball began in 1968 when he was hired by former ASU head coach and athletic director Marvin Vanover prior to the 1968-69 season. He served as Vanover’s right-hand man for more than a decade, retiring in 1982 to enter into private business.
During the 1975-76 season, Carlson took a leave of absence from ASU to coach professionally in Belgium. His Racing Antwerp squad posted a 41-15 record in the European Basketball Association and he was named the league’s Coach of the Year.
Carlson has played or coached in over 1,100 college and professional games and appeared in 10 postseason tournaments at the NCAA Division I and Division II and NAIA levels during his time at ASU, Connecticut and Indiana State.
A decorated athlete, Carlson played collegiately at the University of Connecticut. He led the Huskies in scoring from 1960-62 and served as team captain during his junior and senior seasons. He earned a B.S. in Education from Connecticut in 1962 and received his M.Ed. from UConn in 1963.
Carlson and wife Deborah reside in Augusta and have three children and four grandchildren.
Now in his second season at Augusta State, former Jaguar guard Jamie Quarles has settled into his role as Dip Metress’ top aide.
Quarles, who was named to the Jaguar coaching staff on August 30, 2011, played four seasons under Metress from 2004-08. He was a senior on the 2007-08 squad that advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s National Championship game. During his career, Quarles was part of 85 victories.
“Jamie is a great addition to our staff,” Metress said. “As a former ASU student-athlete and local CSRA player, Jamie is a rising star in the business. He has a passion for the game of basketball and has already impacted our program in a very short period of time. There could come a time that I will be working for him some day.”
Quarles spent last season as an assistant coach at King College in Bristol, Tenn. The Tornado posted a 19-15 overall record and advanced to the NCCAA National Tournament while Mark Dockery earned first-team, All-America honors.
A native of Augusta, Quarles spent the previous two years at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., where he served as head coach of the boy’s varsity basketball (Red) team and a health and physical education teacher. Under his leadership, Oak Hill posted a 44-16 record.
Quarles prepped at Richmond Academy in Augusta and was a high school teammate of former ASU All-American and current Phoenix Suns center Garret Siler. Locally, Quarles and Siler have partnered to create Big G Enterprise, Inc., and the Garret Siler Basketball Camp, where he serves as co-director of the camp for kids 8-to 16-years old. He has also gained experience as a camp counselor at Clemson, Duke and Stanford University’s basketball camps.
A 2008 graduate of ASU with a B.S. in Education, Quarles is working toward his master’s degree in Kinesiology & Health Science.