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.
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.”