CONWAY, S.C. – Coastal Carolina University head men’s basketball coach Cliff Ellis has announced the addition of Zach Settembre as an assistant coach effective immediately.
Settembre joins the Coastal men’s basketball program after two years as the head men’s basketball coach at Tallahassee Community College in Florida after joining the Eagles’ staff as an assistant coach in March 2018. He was named the Panhandle Conference Coach of the Year in each of his two seasons as the head coach for the Eagles.
In a challenging 2020-21 season with the COVID-19 pandemic, Settembre was named the Co-Coach of the Year for the Panhandle Conference as he led his team to a 19-3 overall record and a 13-3 conference record, and a share of the Panhandle Conference Championship, their second-straight conference championship title.
The back-to-back championships were the first for the Eagles since 1996 and 1997.
The Eagles set a school record for conference wins in a season in 2020-21 with 13 victories and was just one win shy of back-to-back 20-win seasons under Settembre.
Settembre mentored both El Ellis and Jeremiah Kendall who were both named to the FCSAA All-State men’s basketball team, marking the first time that Tallahassee had two members named to the all-state team since 2010.
Ellis was also named the Panhandle Conference Player of the Year for the second-straight season, just the third player to accomplish that feat since 1997, and earned him first-team all-conference honors, while Kendall was the Panhandle’s Newcomer of the Year and joined Ellis and Shawn Walker on the All-PC first team. DeAngelo Ware was named second-team All-PC.
The 2019-20 season, Settembre’s first as head coach, was a record-breaking season for the Eagles, as a program-record nine members of the Eagles’ squad went on to sign National Letters of Intent at NCAA Division I schools. In total, all 15 student-athletes, including redshirts, who were a part of the program, signed scholarship letters to continue their academic and athletic careers.
The Eagles were outright Panhandle Conference Champions for the first time since 2001. By winning the prestigious Panhandle Conference, the Eagles earned a bid to the NJCAA Region VIII/FCSAA State Tournament where they advanced to the championship game.
After their strong regular season performance and a runner-up finish at the 2020 NJCAA Region VIII/FCSAA State Tournament, the Eagles were rewarded with an at-large bid to the 2020 NJCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
The 2019-20 season saw the Eagles reel off winning streaks of five, six, and seven (twice) games as Settembre set the program record for wins by a first-year head coach with 27. The Eagles began the season with seven-straight wins by an average of more than 27 points per game and finished their non-conference slate with a 16-2 record including wins over traditional Texas powers Trinity Valley and Odessa, as well as 2020 NJCAA Tournament qualifier, Monroe (N.Y) College.
The Eagles finished the Panhandle Conference season atop the standings with a 9-3 record, including sweeps of Northwest Florida State and Pensacola State and two wins over arch-rival Chipola. The Eagles were excellent in crunch time, as five of their nine victories in conference play were by a single-digit margin.
Statistically, the Eagles were among the most efficient teams in the country in 2019-20. Settembre’s squads are known for their three-point shooting, and the Eagles lived up to that billing, connecting on 40.3 percent from long distance for the season, setting school records for makes (362), attempts (898), and three-point field goal percentage.
The Eagles were recognized for their outstanding season by sweeping the Panhandle Conference’s postseason awards. El Ellis was named Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, becoming just the fourth freshman to win the award since 1997. Tariq Silver, the first NCAA Division I transfer to sign with the Eagles under Settembre, was named Panhandle Conference Newcomer of the Year.
Settembre was named Panhandle Conference Coach of the Year, joining only Chris Jans, Steve Forbes, and Greg Heiar as coaches to win the award in his first season as head coach.
In total, seven Eagles were named to the all-conference first- and second-teams. Ellis (Louisville commit), Silver (Oregon State signee), and Eric Hester (Prairie View A&M signee) were named first-team All-PC while DeAndre Gholston (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee signee), Kailex Stephens (Indiana State signee), Rifen Miguel (Ohio University signee), and Jordan Guest (Seattle University signee) were named second-team All-PC.
A 2009 graduate of St. Xavier High School in Louisville, Ky., attended Syracuse University, where he was a student manager under hall of fame coach Jim Boeheim from 2009-12. Settembre needed only three years to graduate from Syracuse (in 2012) and did so Magna Cum Laude with a degree in public relations and a minor in religion. Settembre earned his Master’s Degree in Business Administration from LSU-Shreveport in August 2020.
After graduating from Syracuse, Settembre returned to his hometown and began his climb up the coaching ladder with a pair of one-year stints at the high school level, first as freshman head coach at Iroquois High School Magnet Academy (2012-13), then at Ballard High School (2013-14), where he served in the same capacity.
Following his season at Ballard, Settembre got his first taste of collegiate coaching, joining legendary coach Happy Osborne’s staff at Kentucky Wesleyan College. There, Settembre had an active role in recruiting and administering summer camps.
Following his stint at Kentucky Wesleyan, Settembre operated a private financial planning practice with Northwestern Mutual for three years in Louisville, Ky. While in the private sector, Settembre spent two seasons as a high school assistant - one at Ballard and one at Louisville Collegiate School - before the latter named him the varsity boys head coach in March 2017, and he delivered a record-breaking season.
Collegiate won a school record 23 games in 2017-18, made its second-ever trip to the All “A” state tournament, and Settembre was named both the KABC (Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches) and Courier-Journal Seventh Region Boys Basketball Coach of the Year. Settembre also fostered the development of Collegiate’s first-ever Courier-Journal 1st Team All 7th Region student-athlete, Chesimon Moore.