Grand Valley welcomes Cornell Mann as men's head basketball coach

For two decades, Cornell Mann was an assistant coach for men’s basketball teams across the Midwest. The demands of the game and his career ultimately prepared him for his first head coaching position. 

Director of Athletics Keri Becker officially introduced Mann at a news conference on April 7 as the sixth men’s basketball coach in Grand Valley history in front of an audience of family, friends, alumni, supporters and members of the Lakers men’s and women’s basketball teams.

“I counted the number of phone calls I had with people who know coach Mann,” said Becker. “Every single one of them said he is phenomenal in the gym and at developing talent.”

Mann, who was overcome with emotion at several points during his comments, discussed the three “pillars” he focuses on for success. 

“Those three pillars are connect, prepare and lead,” said Mann. “Our staff will connect with the players, the campus community and outside the campus. As a staff, we will prepare our players for everything in life, and we will lead our program in a first-class manner.”

Cornell Mann jokes with reporters following the news conference where he was welcomed as the sixth men's basketball coach in the Grand Valley history.
Cornell Mann jokes with reporters following the news conference where he was welcomed as the sixth men's basketball coach in the Grand Valley history.
Kendra Stanley-Mills
Cornell Mann wipes away tears as he talks about his family during the news conference where he was welcomed as the sixth men's basketball coach in the Grand Valley history.
Cornell Mann wipes away tears as he talks about his family during the news conference where he was welcomed as the sixth men's basketball coach in the Grand Valley history.
Kendra Stanley-Mills

Most recently, Mann was an assistant for five seasons at Missouri for coach Cuonzo Martin. His resume includes assistant coaching stops at Oakland University, Iowa State, Dayton, Western Michigan and Central Michigan.

Mann brings NCAA Tournament experience from five schools, including four straight NCAA Tournament appearances while at Iowa State. He helped recruit and develop eight NBA draft picks and coached six All-Americans.

“We will be in better shape and play harder than our opposing team,” said Mann. “Offensively, we’ll play with pace and space, which will give our team the opportunity and freedom to play the game. Defensively, we will not compromise. We will play aggressive defense, but be sound and solid in our efforts.”

Mann said his love for the game began at an early age growing up in Royal Oak Township, where opportunities to play were hard to find. 

“We didn’t have a lot of basketball courts and places to play,” said Mann. “We had to be creative. We knocked out the spokes of a wheel from a dirt bike, we nailed it to a piece of plywood, and then nailed it to a tree. Then we could play.”

Mann earned a degree in family development from Akron in 1995, playing his final three seasons of eligibility for the Zips after starting his collegiate career at Colorado. He then earned his master's degree at Iowa State in 2014.

“People come to Grand Valley State and find home,” said Mann. “I certainly hope that is what happens with me.”

Cornell Mann, right, hugs Mark Montgomery, assistant basketball coach at Michigan State University, following the news conference introducing Mann as Grand Valley's next men's head basketball coach.
Cornell Mann, right, hugs Mark Montgomery, assistant basketball coach at Michigan State University, following the news conference introducing Mann as Grand Valley's next men's head basketball coach.
Kendra Stanley-Mills
The men's basketball team, family, friends and supporters clap as Cornell Mann speaks during the news conference introducing Mann as the sixth men’s basketball coach in Grand Valley history.
The men's basketball team, family, friends and supporters clap as Cornell Mann speaks during the news conference introducing Mann as the sixth men's basketball coach in Grand Valley history.
Kendra Stanley-Mills