Boise State Basketball

Boise State men’s basketball team selects standout NAIA coach to join staff

Barsh: ‘You want to learn from somebody like Coach Rice’

R-Jay Barsh joined the Boise State men's basketball program as an assistant coach on Tuesday, July 9, 2019. Barsh was the head coach at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, the past seven years.
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R-Jay Barsh joined the Boise State men's basketball program as an assistant coach on Tuesday, July 9, 2019. Barsh was the head coach at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, the past seven years.

R-Jay Barsh joins the Boise State men’s basketball coaching staff with the backing of two current NBA players and a best-selling author.

The recommendations bode well for Barsh, who will play a key role in player development as a newly named assistant coach for the Broncos. Barsh replaces Chris Acker, who left for a similar position at San Diego State.

Barsh, 36, served the past seven seasons as the head coach of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, where he led the Fire to three NAIA Division II Tournament appearances and an overall record of 129-86.

“It blows you away the quality of guys that reach out to you and go after a job like this. I sorted through a lot and I knew what I wanted and I knew what this team needed,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said during a press conference on Tuesday. “Coach Barsh just checked every box. ... I just feel fortunate to have gotten such a quality person.

“First of all, that was the thing that everybody talked about — his high character and all the great things that he does outside of basketball. Then with his development skills, I think with the team we have and the kind of guys that we have, he’s the perfect addition for this group.”

In just his second season at SEU, Barsh was named a finalist for the Don Meyer National Coach of the Year Award after the Fire improved from a 15-17 record the year before to 27-7 with an NAIA Fab Four appearance.

“R-Jay loves, serves and cares about his players. He is filled with passion, experience, knowledge and purpose to help his team be the best they can be,” author and speaker Jon Gordon said in a press release. “The one thing I know about R-Jay is he will wake up every day focused on getting better and helping his team get better.”

Barsh’s other coaching stops include University of Puget Sound, Tacoma Community College and Lincoln High in Tacoma, Washington. Barsh played collegiately at TCC from 2001 to 2003, where he won NWAACC titles as both a player and a coach.

“R-Jay Barsh has been in my corner since my Tacoma days, and especially during my time at UW,” Washington Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas said in a press release. “He was the go-to guy for development in Tacoma back in the day. Barsh energy is always on 10, so I know Boise State is about to feel that.”

Barsh earned a degree in communication from Puget Sound in 2007. He and his wife, Christy, have a son named Carson and are expecting their second child in October.

“I’ve been at places where I haven’t had a ton of resources, so it’s been my energy and my personality that have gravitated coaches and players to want to come play for me,” Barsh said during his introductory press conference on Tuesday. “It’s who I am and it’s what works for me. Everybody doesn’t rock that way, but for me that’s all I know. Coming from the inner city of Tacoma, graduating from Puyallup High School, having a positive mind set has always been an A-plus game for me.”

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Rachel Roberts has been covering sports for the Idaho Statesman since 2005. She attended Northwest Nazarene University and is Boise born and raised.
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