Saul Phillips enters his fourth season as head coach of the Ohio men's basketball program in 2017-18.
Under Phillips, the Bobcats have won at least 20 games, placed second in the overall Mid-American Conference standings with 11 conference wins and advanced to the league tournament semifinals in each of the past two seasons. Ohio has won 53 games over three seasons under his watch.
Ohio went 20-11 (11-7 MAC) in 2016-17. The Bobcats locked down the No. 2 seed in the 2017 MAC Tournament presented by VisitMyrtleBeach.com for the second year in a row, earning a bye to the quarterfinals. Ohio topped No. 7-seeded Toledo in the quarters, 67-66, before falling to No. 6-seed and eventual tournament champion Kent State, 68-66, in the league semifinals. Phillips navigated Ohio to another 20-win campaign despite the loss of senior forward Antonio Campbell -- the 2016 MAC Player of the Year -- to a season-ending foot injury 15 games into the season.
Ohio's 2,387 points scored in 2016-17 marked the ninth-most in a single season in program history after the '15-16 squad accounted for the second-most with 2,746. The Bobcats drained 285 three-point field goals in 2016-17, which ranked second only to the 296 the '15-16 squad made. Ohio's 38.4 percent three-point field goal percentage in 2016-17 ranked third-best in program history after the '15-16 team posted the second-best percentage by hitting 38.6 percent of its threes.
Redshirt junior guard Jaaron Simmons was named to the 2016-17 National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District 14 First Team and garnered First Team All-MAC honors for the second year in a row after leading Ohio in scoring (15.9 points per game; 492 points) and assists (6.5 assists per game; 200 assists). His 200 assists ranked as the sixth-most in a single season in program history. Sophomore guard Jordan Dartis earned Second Team All-MAC honors after shooting 44.1 percent (86-of-195) from three-point range, which ranked as the seventh-best three-point field goal percentage in a single season in program history and ranked as the best in the conference and 11th in the nation. Filling the void left by Campbell's injury, forward Jason Carter earned All-MAC Freshman Team selection after logging 306 points (9.9 per game) to rank fourth on the team, 202 rebounds (6.5 per game) to lead the team and 20 blocks (0.6 per game) to rank second on the team. Carter achieved six double-doubles to tie for the team lead.
Ohio posted 23 victories in 2015-16 -- including an 11-7 mark in MAC play. The 2015-16 Ohio squad matched the 1998-99 team for the biggest turnaround in program history. The Bobcats improved by 13 wins under Phillips after posting just 10 victories in 2014-15. The 2015-16 Bobcats matched the 1982-83 team for the sixth-most wins in a single season in program history. After earning the No. 2 seed in the 2016 MAC Tournament presented by VisitMyrtleBeach.com and a bye to Cleveland, Ohio defeated No. 7-seeded Northern Illinois, 79-62, on March 10 in the quarterfinals before falling to No. 3-seeded Buffalo in the semifinals the following day, 88-74. The Bobcats made their 22nd postseason appearance in program history and advanced to the semifinals of the 2016 College Basketball Invitational after beating Albany in overtime in the first round, 94-90, on March 16 and knocking off UNCG, 72-67, on March 21 in the quarterfinals. Ohio's season ended two days later with a 77-72 defeat at the hands of Morehead State.
Ohio's 937 field goals made in 2015-16 tied for second-most in a single season in program history. The Bobcats surpassed the 90-point mark five times in 2015-16 and eclipsed the 80-point mark 16 times.
Campbell was named a 2015-16 Associated Press Honorable Mention All-America selection, the 2016 MAC Player of the Year, a 2015-16 National Association of Basketball Coaches Division I First Team All-District 14 honoree and a 2016 First Team All-MAC pick. Simmons earned 2015-16 NABC Division I Second Team All-District 14 honors. The Second Team All-MAC selection's 275 assists went down as the most in both program and MAC history. Dartis garnered All-MAC Freshman Team selection for his efforts last season after setting the program's single-season record with a 47.9 percent three-point field goal percentage.
The Phillips era began with a 73-47 victory over Appalachian State on Nov. 15, 2014, at the Convocation Center. The Bobcats posted a record-setting 99-78 win over Big East Conference foe DePaul on Dec. 23, 2014, in the 2014 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic to highlight non-conference play in 2014-15. Ohio set a Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic record with 99 points -- the most since Indiana State edged Ole Miss, 87-85, in overtime in 2012.
Ohio's 2015 Mid-American Conference slate featured home victories over East Division rivals Miami, Akron and eventual league tournament champion Buffalo. Phillips picked up his first MAC win on Jan. 21 -- an 82-73 triumph over Ball State in Muncie, Ind. Ohio closed the regular season by storming past Miami, 95-65, in a 'Battle of the Bricks' Senior Day clash on March 6 at the Convo. The Bobcats' 30-point win over the RedHawks marked Ohio's largest margin of victory in the 'Battle of the Bricks' since beating Miami by a 61-20 count in 1940-41 in Oxford. The Bobcats were scorching from behind the arc, converting a season-high 17-of-31 three-point attempts. Ohio's 17 three pointers made marked the program's most since knocking down 17 on Jan. 20, 2000 at Central Michigan, which ranks as the second-most in school history.
Senior forward Maurice Ndour garnered Second Team All-MAC honors for a second straight season while redshirt senior guard Javarez Willis earned Honorable Mention All-MAC recognition for the first time.
Ohio Director of Athletics Jim Schaus named Phillips the 18th head coach in men's basketball program history on April 6, 2014. He begins the 2017-18 campaign with a career head coaching record of 187-127 (.595).
Phillips came to Athens following seven seasons at North Dakota State, where he guided the Bison to a 134-84 record (.615) -- including a 75-45 mark in The Summit League -- and NCAA Championship appearances in 2009 and '14. He departed Fargo with the fourth-most wins by a head coach in program history. Under Phillips' watch, the Bison produced 14 All-Summit League selections.
During the 2013-14 campaign, Phillips led North Dakota State to a 26-7 overall record -- including a 12-2 mark in league play -- and a Summit League title en route to earning a 2014 NCAA Championship berth. The No. 12-seeded Bison knocked off No. 5-seeded Oklahoma in overtime, 80-75 in the Second Round. Phillips garnered Summit League Coach of the Year laurels for the second time while senior guard Taylor Braun earned Summit League Player of the Year honors.
Phillips directed North Dakota State to its first Summit League crown and NCAA Division I Championship appearance in 2009 as the Bison went 26-7 overall and 16-2 in league play. The 2009 Summit League Coach of the Year was one of 10 finalists for the Hugh Durham Mid-Major Coach of the Year award. Senior guard Ben Woodside received Summit League Player of the Year under Phillips -- the first Bison to ever earn such honors.
NDSU had been on the rise since graduating four starters from that NCAA team. The Bison won 11, 14 and 17 games before a 24-win season and Summit League title game appearance in 2013. NDSU played in the College Basketball Invitational for the second straight year.
Phillips was an assistant coach at North Dakota State for three seasons before being elevated to the head job when Tim Miles was hired by Colorado State.
Before coming to North Dakota State in 2004, Phillips was the director of basketball operations for three years at Wisconsin, where he handled the day-to-day scheduling, coordinated travel, budgeting and on-campus recruiting for Bo Ryan's staff.
Phillips spent two years as an assistant coach under Ryan at Milwaukee (1999-01) and two years as an assistant at Lake Superior State (1997-99) under Marty McDermott.
A native of Reedsburg, Wis., Phillips graduated from Wisconsin-Platteville with a degree in business and psychology in 1996. He played basketball for four seasons at UWP under Ryan and was captain of the Pioneers' undefeated national championship team in 1995.
He went on to become a graduate assistant at Wayne (Neb.) State for one season under Greg McDermott.
Phillips and his wife, Nicole, have one daughter, Jordan, and two sons, Charlie and Benjamin.