The University of Maine filled its men’s basketball coach vacancies Friday – with one very notable addition.

Edniesha Curry was hired as one of Richard Barron’s three assistant coaches. According to a release by the university, she is the only woman serving as a full-time assistant coach at an NCAA Division I men’s program. Curry previously served as an assistant to Barron while he was the Black Bears’ women’s head coach.

Females coaching male basketball teams are rare. While it’s unclear how many have coached on men’s teams in the NCAA, there have been only three in NBA history. Currently, Becky Hammon is an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs and Jenny Boucek is with the Sacramento Kings. Nancy Lieberman was an assistant for Sacramento for two seasons, leaving in 2016.

The three other hires – Kevin Reed, Igor Vrzina and Jason Coleman – all have ties to Maine high school or prep school basketball.

While none of the coaches will be available for comment until Monday, Barron said in the press release that “Eddie was an easy choice as an assistant coach.”

She had been at UMaine as an assistant basketball player development coach for the women’s team from July 2015 to May 2017. Since then she had worked in the NBA Assistant Coaches Program – where she worked at the NBA Draft Combine and at the NBA G League Showcase, combining player development duties with scouting – and as a women’s athletic program manager at Atlanta Classical Academy.

“She is extremely talented at developing players, especially within the context of defensive and offensive systems,” said Barron, who was named Maine’s men’s coach on March 5. “Eddie teaches skills that can be utilized with frequency in a game. Eddie is also great at scouting opponents as well as ‘self-scouts’ – breaking down video to find areas of improvement.”

Barron also cited Curry’s previous experience at Maine as a factor in her hiring.

“She knows Maine, knows many of our players and knows me and my style of play,” said Barron.

Curry played professionally in the WNBA and overseas from 2002-09. She was the 41st pick in the WNBA draft by the Charlotte Stingers after graduating from Oregon in 2002.

“I am really blessed to have the opportunity to work the sidelines with Coach Barron,” said Curry in the statement. “He has always believed in my abilities as a coach and I am grateful for him bringing me back to UMaine to coach alongside him with the men’s basketball program.”

Barron said he was looking for coaches who “understand our challenges and the opportunities that we have here to build a successful program” and were strong recruiters who could develop talent.

Reed and Vrzina were hired as assistants, and Coleman was hired as the director of basketball operations. All the contracts begin Sunday.

Reed, who was the athletic director and boys’ basketball coach at Bangor Christian, graduated from Maine in 2007. He is fourth all-time in scoring (1,601 points), eighth in rebounds (732) and third in steals (225), and holds the Black Bear record for games played (119).

Vrzina was the prep basketball coordinator at Lee Academy. Previously he had been an assistant coach for BC Grifoni in Ukraine and an administrative assistant for Illinois State’s men’s team. Vrzina, a 2007 graduate of Abilene Christian, will be reunited with several of his former Lee Academy players now on the Black Bears: Miks Antoms, Dusan Majstorovic, Ilija Stojiljkovic and Lewis Wang.

Coleman has been the head coach at Orono High since 2011 and also was involved in AAU basketball.

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