Jun 25, 2024

National champion coach to head MCC men’s basketball

Posted Jun 25, 2024 4:15 PM
(Photo from MPCC Athletics)
(Photo from MPCC Athletics)

MPCC Athletics

McCook, Neb. - Dillon Hargrove, who coached National Park College to a national championship in March, has been named the new coach of McCook Community College men's basketball program.

Hargrove has been the men's head basketball coach at the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II program in Hot Springs, Ark. since July of 2020.

He compiled an 82-27 coaching record while leading the Nighthawks to Region II regular season championships the past two years and a program best 31-1 record during the 2023-24 campaign.

He said there were two main things that attracted him to the McCook job.

"The Peter and Dolores Graff Events Center is top-notch. It is one of the best facilities in junior college," he said. "The other thing is that when I got to McCook, one of the first things I realized and felt is that strong sense of community."

He said that community pride was visible not only with athletics, and not just on campus but throughout the community.

"As a basketball coach that's huge," he said. "To make that move, you want to feel that sense of community and family and this is pretty obvious here in McCook."

During his fourth season, the Nighthawks rattled off 27 straight wins as the team spent seven weeks ranked No. 1 in the nation.

Following the team's lone loss in the NJCAA Region II Championship, NPC received an at-large bid to its first NJCAA National Tournament as the No. 5 seed, where the Nighthawks soared to the program's first NJCAA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship.

NPC averaged 91.1 points per game on the offensive side while giving up 74.0 points per game on defense. They complimented that with 5.6 blocks per game (seventh in the nation) and 11.8 steals per game (eighth in the nation).

In addition to being named NJCAA Region II Coach of the Year, Hargrove was named the 2023-24 NJCAA Division II Men's Basketball Championship Coach of the Tournament and the 2023-24 National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Two-Year College Coach of the Year.

In his time at NPC, Hargrove coached one championship MVP, three DII All-Americans, two Region II players of the year, six all-region players and five second-team all-region players.

MCC Athletic Director Jon Olsen said the last two times the men's basketball head coach has opened up, there have been between 50 to 80 applications. A seven-person Mid-Plains Community College search committee screened candidates and conducted the interviews. Hargrove will also have responsibilities as a Career Coach in the Learning Commons.

"His resume to me just stood out, he interviewed really well and we saw why he would be so successful," said Olsen. "I'm really excited for him to be here."

Hargrove said recruiting is one of his immediate priorities. He and assistant Drake Henderson, whom he brought with him from Arkansas, plan to meet with current players and begin the process of replacing nine sophomores.

"We like to develop teams that play really hard, and we'll expect that out of our team this year, good athletes as well as good people," he said.

He received his bachelor's degree in communications from Arkansas Tech University in August of 2016. Hargrove began his coaching career as an assistant with men's basketball program at Lyon College in Benton, Ark. in 2016. The following year he coached at Flippin High School before joining the staff in 2019 at Little Priest Tribal College in Winnebago, Neb.

MCC's new men's basketball coach comes from a family of basketball coaches and educators. His dad has been coaching in Arkansas and Missouri for 32 years and mom has been an educator. His twin sister is a basketball coach. Younger sister isn't a coach but is pursuing her master's degree in sports management.

He and his wife Brooke both come from small towns in Arkansas and met in high school seven years ago. They were married last summer. She is a certified speech pathologist.

Hargrove takes over for North Platte native Jacob Brandl, who left MCC last month to take over at his alma mater North Platte Community College. Brandl spent four years as MCC with a 47-72 record. In 2021 Brandl helped guide the Indians to a Region IX tournament championship appearance, their first since 1997. The Indians went 11-21 this past season.