Colby Community College introduced Rusty Elmore as the new men's basketball coach at a press conference Wednesday in the Student Union. Elmore replaces former head coach Rusty Grafel, who resigned in June to join the men's basketball staff at Texas Tech University.
"I am so excited to be at Colby Community College," Elmore said. "President Carter and Athletic Director Mike Saddler are doing some big things, and I am so blessed to become a part of this great institution. This is a dream come true."
Saddler said it took a lot of screening to find someone who could advance the program that Grafel solidified over seven years.
"It was important to find the right person to grow the success that Coach Grafel built. Throughout my research, it became clear that Coach Elmore was the right man for the job. He has been on the coaching staff of some very successful programs making multiple trips to national tournaments and spent the last three seasons coaching for a pair of NJCAA Hall of Famers who raved about his coaching abilities.
Elmore comes to Colby after serving the last two seasons as an assistant coach at Moberly Area Community College. MACC head coach Pat Smith believes Elmore will be a positive influence on the program.
"Rusty Elmore is just an outstanding hire by Colby Community College," Smith said. "We've been 54-12 the last two seasons, and Rusty has been a major part of that. He's an outstanding basketball mind and works so well with the players. He's a big-time recruiter who's brought really good players into Moberly."
Some of those players helped the Greyhounds go to the NJCAA national tournament last season. Over the last three years, Elmore helped 17 players earn NCAA Division I scholarships. The most high-profile signee was last season's national scoring leader and All-American combo-guard Alonzo Verge, who is headed to Arizona State University.
"Our loss is Colby's gain, but I'm so happy for Rusty," Smith added.
Before his tenure at Moberly, Elmore was an assistant coach at Vincennes University for the 2016-17 season. The Trailblazers went 32-3 and finished fifth in the final NJCAA poll.
"I'm very happy for Rusty," said Vincennes head coach Todd Franklin. "I believe he is ready to make the jump to the head coaching position, and I am sure he will attack the job with a relentless energy to bring a winner to Colby Community College!"
Elmore has been part of winning programs since he entered coaching at Lindsey Wilson College from 2010 to 2014. The Blue Raiders qualified for the 2012 and 2013 NAIA Division I national tournaments and won back-to-back Mid-South Conference tournament championships. He was an assistant at Union College in 2014-15, where the Bulldogs won a program-best 30 games on the way to winning Appalachian Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles. The following year he was an assistant at NCAA Division II Kentucky Wesleyan University and helped the ninth-ranked Panthers claim Great Midwest Athletic Conference's regular season and tournament championships.
During his prep playing days, Elmore was a First-Team ACEA All-State member at Florence Christian Academy in Florence, Ala., and continued playing at Shoals Community College where he played for his father, Glen Elmore. He went on to earn a bachelor's degree in liberal studies from Middle Tennessee State University and a master's degree in athletic administration from Western Kentucky University.
Before coaching, Elmore worked for eight years as an executive with Chicago White Sox Radio Network, WGN-TV, NBC Atlanta and ABC Asheville.
His past success will be valuable as he navigates Colby's tough schedule.
"I have my hands full trying to win games in the toughest conference in the country," he said. "Hopefully, we can build upon what Coach Grafel started. He left me some good pieces for next year, and I hope we can put together a team that excites the Colby community."
Though Elmore is realistic about the challenges ahead, Saddler said the new coach will leave his own legacy.
"I believe Coach Elmore is the guy to take Colby to the first Region 6 title and become a consistent force at the top of the Jayhawk Conference."
Elmore begins his new role immediately while becoming part of the community with wife Katie and their two daughters, Nora and Elise.