Jamion Christian, who architected a perennial Northeast Conference title contender at Mount St. Mary's and turned Siena into one of the nation's most improved teams in 2018-19, has been hired as GW men's basketball head coach, Director of Athletics and Recreation Tanya Vogel announced Thursday.
Christian led the Mount to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances and a 67-39 conference record in six seasons before taking the helm at Siena, where he led the Saints to a nine-win improvement in his lone season.
"We aspire to become a perennial contender in the Atlantic 10 Conference and to do so, we need a leader with relentless optimism, positivity and basketball acumen," said Vogel. "We have found that in Jamion Christian. His passion for teaching and his endless energy to get the absolute best out of each individual in his program is infectious. I am confident in Coach Christian's ability to build a sustainable program that is in the national conversation again soon."
"I am honored to be able to return home to take a job I have dreamed of having since I was a child," said Christian. "I'd like to thank President Thomas LeBlanc for this incredible opportunity. It was a difficult decision to leave Siena because I absolutely loved the people, but there were only a few jobs that could take me away, and I can't wait to get to work in Foggy Bottom. GW has a rich basketball history and the potential to become a juggernaut in the Atlantic 10. I'm looking forward to bringing an exciting style of basketball to the nation's capital that all of the Buff and Blue faithful will be proud of. Our brand of basketball contains enthusiasm and great connectivity. We can't wait to pump our love into our players each and every day. The journey to be at our best begins immediately. I am so incredibly excited to be your head coach."
A native of Quinton, Virginia, Christian made an immediate impact at Siena, implementing a pressure defense and an offense built around protecting the ball and three-point shooting. His "Mayhem" brand of basketball saw the Saints improve from 251st to 43rd nationally in scoring defense, 322nd to eighth in fewest turnovers, and 250th to 74th in 3-point field goals per game.
Siena, which was voted to finish last in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference preseason poll, went on to a tied-for-second-place regular season finish with an 11-7 league record, just one game out of first place. The Saints finished 17-16 overall, a nine-win improvement from the season prior. Under Christian's guidance, guard Jalen Pickett won MAAC Rookie of the Year honors and became the first freshman to earn a spot on the All-MAAC First Team since 1987.
Hired to lead his alma mater at the age of 29, Christian led Mount St. Mary's to two NEC Tournament Championships and NCAA Tournament appearances in 2014 and 2017. He guided the Mount to 101 wins and a winning record in conference play all six seasons, the only school in the conference to achieve that feat.
Taking over a program that went 8-21 the season before he arrived, the first-time head coach led Mount St. Mary's to an 18-14 record and an appearance in the NEC Tournament Final in 2012-13. A year later, Christian led the Mount back to the NEC Tournament Championship game, which they won to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
Christian's fifth season, in 2016-17, yielded the school's first 20-win season since 1995-96. The Mount captured the NEC regular season and Tournament Championships as Christian was tabbed NEC Coach of the Year. The season was highlighted by a NCAA Tournament First Four victory over New Orleans, marking just the second NCAA Tournament victory in the school's Division I era. Christian was tabbed both the 2016-17 Jim Phelan Coach of the Year - named after his legendary predecessor whom he played for at the Mount - and CollegeInsider.com's Ben Jobe National Coach of the Year, presented annually to the top Division I minority coach.
Prior to returning to Mount St. Mary's, Christian spent the previous season as an assistant coach at VCU, where he helped lead the program to a record 29 wins, a Colonial Athletic Association Championship, and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2012. Christian began his collegiate coaching career as an assistant at Division III Emory & Henry College (2004-06), before moving on to the Division I ranks as the director of basketball operations at Bucknell University (2006-08), and then as an assistant coach at the College of William & Mary (2008-11).
A 2004 graduate of Mount St. Mary's, Christian was a three-time team captain under Phelan and Milan Brown. He amassed 581 points in 90 career games, including 56 starts. Christian led the Mount in scoring, averaging 11.3 points per game during the 2001-02 season.
Christian has a wife, Allie, who played softball at Mount St. Mary's, and a son, Jacoy. His brother, Jarell, coaches the Capital City Go-Go, the Washington Wizards' G League affiliate, where GW alumnus Pops Mensah-Bonsu is General Manager.