March 24, 2017

CLEVELAND (AP) Dennis Felton's coaching connections span the country, from college to the NBA. Cleveland State is counting on them to turn things around.

Felton, who guided both Western Kentucky and Georgia to NCAA Tournament appearances, was hired as Cleveland State's coach Friday. He succeeds Gary Waters, who retired after 11 seasons at the school and the Vikings now at the bottom of the Horizon League.

Felton is sliding down a few chairs and returning to a head job after spending three seasons as an assistant with Tulsa. Before that, he was director of pro player personnel for the San Antonio Spurs.

''I'm eager to start working with our players to build a championship program and getting out to share my vision of how we plan to partner with the entire community to do special things at Cleveland State,'' he said.

Cleveland State will introduce Felton at a campus news conference Monday.

At Georgia, Felton led the Bulldogs to the SEC Tournament title in 2008 and an NCAA Tournament berth. As Western Kentucky's coach from 1998-03, Felton guided the school to six straight conference championships and three consecutive NCAA appearances.

Felton joins a program that has seen better days. Waters got the Vikings into the NCAA field in 2009, when they upset Wake Forest in the first round before losing to Arizona. However, the school has been stung by the transfer of talented players. Cleveland State was 18-45 the past two seasons.

''Dennis Felton has a championship pedigree and has coached and recruited at the highest level,'' athletic director Mike Thomas said. ''He will be an outstanding leader for the student-athletes in our basketball program, on the court, in the classroom and in the community.''

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