ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine has two vacancies for assistant basketball coaches.
Black Bears men’s assistant Nate Philippe and women’s assistant coach Jhasmin Player have both moved on after two seasons in Orono.
Philippe recently was appointed to an assistant coach at American University in Washington, D.C., while Player has decided she wants to return to playing basketball.
Philippe has joined the staff of first-year Eagles head coach Mike Brennan, who was a longtime assistant. He reportedly will more than double his pay at American.
With UMaine, Philippe’s primary responsibilities included working with post players, defense, recruiting, scouting and serving as program’s academic liaison.
“It’s a great opportunity. Nate did a tremendous job for us and was an outstanding young coach and recruiter,” said UMaine men’s basketball head coach Ted Woodward.
Philippe was hired at UMaine to replace Chris Markwood, who went to work at Vermont in 2011.
“I think he’s excited to be down in D.C. It sounds like he’ll be their primary recruiting guy,” Woodward said. “We’re very happy for him.”
Philippe had some kind parting words for the coaches, players and staff at UMaine.
“I would sincerely like to thank everyone at the University of Maine and Black Bear athletics that have made the last two years special,” he said in a statement.
“Special thanks to Steve Abbott and Ted Woodward who gave me the opportunity to represent UMaine, the coaching staff, support staff and players that I have truly enjoyed working with,” Philippe added.
Philippe is a native of Toronto who played at the University of Prince Edward Island and St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Prior to UMaine, he coached at the University of North Dakota and at other Canadian universities.
“My family and I are very excited about joining the American University program and our move to DC! Thanks to Mike Brennan for the opportunity!,” Philippe added.
Player was a charter member of coach Richard Barron’s staff. The 2009 Baylor University graduate arrived at UMaine after playing two injury-plagued seasons of professional basketball overseas.
“She was hurting when we got her,” Barron said. “She’s in great shape right now, probably better than she ever has been.”
Now, Player wants to get back into playing the game rather than coach it.
“Yes that’s the plan, to head back to Europe and play and hopefully play in the WNBA next summer,” Player said Tuesday via Facebook. “I’ll probably get back into coaching later, but I want to make sure I play until I can’t play any more.”
Player was on the Baylor squad when Barron served as an assistant coach for Kim Mulkey’s Bears.
“She was All-Big 12,” Barron said. “We were a Final Four team until she tore her ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] her junior year against Kansas State.”
Player worked primarily with UMaine’s guards. She also broke down video and developed scouting reports.
“She’s like one of my kids,” Barron added. “We’re really, really happy for her.”
Barron explained that Player’s exposure to the Black Bears’ large group of players from overseas helped rekindle her interest in playing professionally again. He also believes she has tremendous potential despite the two-year layoff.
“If she’s playing like she’s playing right now, and she’s fit and she’s healthy, she could even make a WNBA roster next summer,” Barron said.
Brittany Wells transfers
Brittany Wells, who was a freshman on the UMaine women’s basketball team last season, has left the program.
On Tuesday, Barron confirmed that Wells, who is from Indianapolis, has transferred to Division II Kentucky Wesleyan College.
The 5-foot-7 guard played sparingly for UMaine, only appearing in 18 of the Black Bears’ 28 games and averaging 3.6 points and 1.1 rebounds in 10 minutes per contest.
Wells never seemed to carve out a niche at UMaine, but Kentucky Wesleyan co-coaches Caleb Nieman and Nicole Nieman had recruited her out of high school.