On a staff full of new faces, David Choi joined the men’s basketball team as an assistant coach and said he’s looking forward to his first full season of collegiate coaching.
After hiring two new assistant coaches this offseason, head basketball coach John Tharp said he felt there was still something lacking in his coaching staff.
“We put something out saying that we’re looking for a young guy that really wants to get into the profession and be a part of coaching,” Tharp said. “Assistant coach Eric Weiss and I Zoomed with David and we got off of the interview and I said, ‘He’s really good but there’s no way we’re going to get him from Seattle.’”
Despite coaching in Washington for more than a decade as both a high school JV and varsity head coach, Choi was adamant about moving to Michigan to join the Chargers.
“David really was kind of a bulldog and said, ‘I want to do this. This is what I want to do,’” Tharp said. “And now he’s here.”
For Choi, the decision to move was certainly a difficult one.
“I took a chance on myself, I bet on myself, and moved our family from Seattle to Hillsdale, a 40-hour drive,” Choi said. “I moved out to Seattle in ’97, so from ’97 to 2020, that’s been home. 23 years is a long time and I definitely set a foundation there. It’s tough to get up and go, but all the stars aligned and this seemed like the right fit.”
With two other new assistant coaches joining Choi, the trio is still settling into their new roles.
“This is the first time coach Tharp has had a brand new assistant coaching staff. I’m kind of trying to find my voice, and trying to find ways to impact winning,” Choi said. “That’s my number one goal, is to impact winning to the best of my abilities.”
Though Choi says much of his responsibility revolves around recruiting and on and off the court coaching, he especially enjoys his involvement with his new team’s culture.
“The best part about what I get to do is to talk about what culture is here, and not what it isn’t,” Choi said. “Oftentimes, when a coach joins a program, he’s having to talk about what we don’t do, but Tharp has been so successful, I get to talk about what we do.”
Though he has only been with the team for a few months, Choi is already having a profound impact on the team.
“He’s a great coach, with everything from a personal standpoint, to a coaching standpoint,” Sophomore Cole Nau said. “Off the court, he’s someone who likes to have relationships with everyone. He’s trying to build relationships with our team. You talk to anyone on our team, and they’ll talk highly of coach Choi.”
Tharp believes the key to Choi’s success on the team has had a lot to do with his experience.
“He was a high school basketball coach for almost 12 years, coaching all through college too,” Tharp said. “He’s an experienced coach, that can assist with drills, and he’s very savvy in regard to technology and recruiting, so he’s really helping in a lot of different facets with that.”
Choi agrees, seeing great value in the knowledge he brings to the team.
“What I lack in college coaching experience, as I’ve only been in the college coaching realm for just under a year, I more than make up with head coaching experience,” Choi said. “That’s something that I bring to the table. As someone that ran my own program, I can bring primary examples of what I experienced.”
This experience has already proved useful, with players taking notice of his friendly and sociable charisma.
“He has the perfect answer for almost any question you can ask him,” Nau said. “He’s someone that’s so approachable, where you can see that from his past experience, he knows how to direct or answer questions with our teammates.”
Despite being in a unique position, Choi and his fellow coaches have adapted well and are more than ready for the season.
“The coaches have done a really good job of getting in and gaining the respect from our players already,” Nau said. “The clean transition was really appreciated, they took the time to study our offense and learn about our team and how they are.”