Kevin Contreras, Sports Editor

Coach Magpayo joined UCR’s coaching staff for men’s basketball as an assistant coach in 2017. For the 2020-21 season, he was named interim head coach, where he led the Highlanders to a historic season in the Big West Conference. His performance as head coach earned him the 2021 Joe B. Hall award.

Courtesy of UCR News

This award is given annually to the top first-year Division I coach. The award is named after a Kentucky assistant coach who took the head coach position after the renowned Adolph Rupp stepped down. In his first year, Hall led the team to win the Southeastern Conference with a record of 20-8 and is known for leading the team to the NCAA regional finals. Since then, this award has been given to first-year coaches who have made a mark in their respective school’s history.

From day one as head coach, Magpayo made history with the team’s first victory against Washington. That victory marked the first for a Division I head coach of Asian or Filipino descent. He led the Highlanders to a third-place finish in the Big West Conference as well as the number three seed in the Big West Tournament 一 the highest in Highlander history. The Highlanders ended their season with a 14-8 overall record and a 8-4 conference record. In the tournament, UCR reached the semifinals for the second time in UCR history, and the team’s victory in the opening round marked the first time UCR won a game in the postseason in 10 years. Magpayo’s leadership has also allowed talented players on the team to receive recognition for themselves.

Magpayo’s performance during the 2020-21 season has earned him the opportunity to lead the team as the official head coach. On May 21, the UCR athletics department announced that he had officially signed a five-year contract.

“The work of our elite student-athletes has led to this tremendous opportunity for me to lead us forward. We have constructed a group of young men that have proven to be winners over the last few years. My staff is special and I’m thankful to them as well,” said Magpayo in a UCR Athletics press release. “We are committed to building this winning culture and to always operate with a championship standard. This great young and empowered University deserves a winner and I intend to give it to them.”