ETSU Men’s Basketball assistants aiming to build strong foundation


Turner Battle, Greg Heiar and Matt Wise bring over 40 years of coaching experience to the court

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The East Tennessee men’s basketball program will have plenty of fresh faces this season with seven new players and five new assistant coaches.

The three main assistants on Jason Shay’s staff have no lack of experience with over 40 years combined underneath their belts.

One of those assistants is Matt Wise, who most recently was on Wyoming’s coaching staff. He also has stops at Arkansas Little Rock and Florida. Wise played collegiately at Transylvania University in Lexington from 2007-2011.  The Florida native helped guide the Pioneers to an appearance in the 2009 NCAA Division III Tournament.

Wise has passion for the game and knows that if he wants players to buy into a program, they have to see that love for the sport.

“They don’t care what you know until they know how much you care and in terms of gelling new bodies, new faces, it is all about relationship building,” Wise said.

Another assistant that shows that same passion is Turner Battle. He’s had plenty of success on the bench and on the floor. Battle brings 13 years of experience to Johnson City with stints in Buffalo, Chattanooga and most recently UAB.

Battle held his own on the hardwood as well, playing four seasons at Buffalo, chalking up 1,414 points, 502 rebounds, 458 assists and 170 steals. He was Buffalo’s first-ever Mid-American Conference Player of the Year, while also being a three-time Academic All-MAC and two-time All-MAC selection, also earned 2005 ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American honors.

Battle played professionally in Estonia, France and Sweden, as well as in the NBA Developmental League (Fort Worth Flyers) and the American Basketball Association (Buffalo Rapids). Battle knows hard work and dedication can build trust.

“From what they’ve been doing with the guys, hopefully, they see results, which builds trust too,” Battle said. “Seeing results, getting better every day, really getting out of being comfortable every day, I think is big too.”

The final new assistant to the Buccaneers staff has the most coaching experience with Greg Heiar being in the ranks for over 20 years. He just spent the last three seasons on LSU’s staff in which they won the SEC Championship in 2019. Other than that, he had stops at Wichita State, Southern Miss, Chipola Junior College and Loras College.

He also had a solid career on the floor at Mount St. Clare, where Heiar was a two-year captain, team MVP, first team all-conference selection and led the team to its first conference title in program history. Heiar’s been around numerous coaching staffs and always found one common aspect that leads to success.

“I guess in my experience, you don’t always have staff synergy and we definitely have staff synergy and a great vibe and great togetherness,” Heiar said.

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