In looking at Jeff Lebo's accomplishments in his previous head coaching stops at Tennessee Tech and Tennessee-Chattanooga, it appears that AU President Dr. Ed Richardsona and his special assistant, Hal Baird, found exactly the type of candidate they were searching for to replace Cliff Ellis, who Richardson fired three weeks ago.
Dr. Ed Richardson
Perhaps Lebo's most impressive achievement was the work he did at Tennessee Tech. He took over a program that was unknown in the college basketball world and turned it into a winner during his four-year tenure in Cookeville, Tenn. He took over at a team that had not won 20 games in a single season since the 1946-1947 campaign and had not won an Ohio Valley Conference title since 1984-1985. He accomplished both feats in his third season by leading the Golden Eagles to a 20-9 overall record and his first of two consecutive OVC titles.
Even more impressive may be the fact that under Lebo's watch the Golden Eagles challenged some of the toughest competition in the nation. His 1999-2000 team, which finished the season 16-12, took on both Alabama and North Carolina on the road. Although both games were losses for his team, Lebo showed then he was not afraid to compete against the big boys of the college basketball world.
The 2000-2001 season was no different as Lebo scheduled three tough contests for his club on the road. The Golden Eagles were beaten by Notre Dame and Iowa State, but were able to pull off a 73-67 upset of former mentor Eddie Fogler's South Carolina squad.
In 2002 Lebo again took his team on the road, facing Tennessee, Louisville and New Mexico. The Golden Eagles dropped all three of those games, but Lebo led his team to a 27-7 record, its second straight OVC title and the quarterfinals of the NIT where they lost a 79-73 contest at Memphis. The Golden Eagles were forced to play in the NIT after suffering a heartbreaking 70-69 loss to Murray State in the finals of the OVC conference tournament finals.
Over the past two seasons Lebo has been doing another rebuilding job in the state of Tennessee. In April of 2002 the now 37-year-old coach was hired at UTC without a single returning starter or a single signee for the squad. However, he took the Mocs to a startling 21-9 record in his first season at the helm.
In the 2002-2003 season Lebo's new team also continued to take on the some of the toughest competition with road games at UAB and Cincinnati. Despite losses in both of those contests the Mocs put up some impressive numbers. The team shot 48.3 percent from the floor, 36.7 percent form three-point land and 75.7 percent form the charity stripe. Also, that team averaged scoring 81.2 points per game.
That trend continued this past season as Lebo led the Mocs to a 19-11 record and played tough road contests at Alabama and Kansas. Again the Mocs came up on the short end of those contests, but showed strong fight against the Crimson Tide in a 76-72 loss.
Statistically, the Mocs were again solid offensively in 2004. They hit 49.2 percent of their shots from the floor, 37.6 percent of their three-point shots and 73.5 percent of their free throw attempts while averaging 82.1 points per game.
On Thursday, AU president Richardson and Baird announced that Lebo was their choice as Auburn's 15th men's basketball coach. Lebo began his coaching career in 1991-92 as an assistant at East Tennessee State under Alan LeForce. He coached as an assistant for Eddie Fogler at Vanderbilt from from 1993-1994 and at South Carolina from 1994-1998.
Lebo, who started for the University of North Carolina for Coach Dean Smith from 1986-89, scored 1,567 points as a collegian and finished with 580 assists, which is sixth in school history.
He played for his father's teams at Carlisle High where he posted a 108-9 record with a state title while earning All-State four times.
Lebo and his wife Melissa Mills of Williamson, N.C., were married in August 1992 and have two daughters (nine-year-old Addison and six-year-old Mills) and a two-year-old son named Creighton.
1998-1999 Tennessee Tech 12-15
1999-2000 Tennessee Tech 16-12 (Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year)
2000-2001 Tennessee Tech 20-9 (Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year), (OVC champions)
2001-2002 Tennessee Tech 27-7 (Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year (OVC champions)
2002-2003 Tennessee-Chattanooga 21-9
2003-2004 Tennessee-Chattanooga 19-11