|Title:||Head Men's Basketball Coach|
Donyell Marshall was named the 10th head coach of the CCSU men's basketball program on April 6, 2016. In just two seasons, Marshall has helped changed the direction of the Blue Devils program and post their highest win total since 2012-13 and return to the Northeast Conference tournament.
Marshall guided Central back to the conference postseason tournament with a 14-win campaign in 2017-18. The Blue Devils posted seven wins in league play to make their first postseason appearance in four seasons, while also matching their most wins out of conference (seven) since 2010-11.
Central’s season was highlighted by a five-game win streak from Nov. 17-Dec. 2, 2017, which matched the program’s longest win streak since 2011 and marked the first consecutive wins in a span of 63 games. Although the Blue Devils’ season ended in the NEC Quarterfinals, the campaign also included a win over the league’s eventual NCAA representative, LIU Brooklyn.
Marshall mentored his first all-conference player in 2017-18, as junior Tyler Kohl earned All-Northeast Conference Second Team honors. Kohl also earned NABC All-District 18 Second Team honors. Junior Austin Nehls earned CoSIDA Academic All-District 2 First Team honors for the second straight season as well. Nehls and sophomore Tyson Batiste also earned selection to the NABC Honors Court.
In his first season at the helm, Marshall set about changing the direction of Central’s fortunes. The Blue Devils improved both their overall and Northeast Conference win totals and despite missing out on the postseason, his program showed reasons to be optimistic for the future. The Blue Devils opened the year with a win over local rival Hartford and also claimed victories during the season over three of the top four teams in the NEC standings, including a comeback win at the eventual league champion, Mount St. Mary’s. Marshall was also recognized as the Hoopdirt.com national Coach of the Week on Feb. 7. The excitement Marshall brought to the program was reflected in the fans’ support, as CCSU ranked second in the NEC in average home attendance.
Marshall’s inaugural campaign was highlighted by multiple individual performances by Blue Devils. Senior Khalen Cumberlander scored his 1,000th career point on a game-winning shot at Saint Francis U during the season. Senior Tidell Pierre was the league’s most-improved rebounder, grabbing nearly five more boards per game than the season prior. Nehls earned a spot on the NABC Honors Court for his performance on the court and in the classroom. He and senior Tafari Whittingham were also named to the NEC Academic Honor Roll.
Under Marshall’s leadership, the Blue Devils have moved up the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) rankings by almost 100 spots, as in the season prior to his arrival Central ranked #351. The Blue Devils’ turnaround has been evident on both ends of the court. Among Division I programs, CCSU has improved its offensive field goal percentage from being ranked #344 (40.0%) in 2015-16 to being #99 (45.3%) in 2017-18. On the defensive end of the court, CCSU has jumped from #326 (47.5%) before Marshall’s arrival to #134 (43.8%) in his second season. Using advanced statistical metrics, the Blue Devils’ effective field goal percentage has improved from #333 (46.7%) to #166 (51.0%) on the offensive end. Defensively, CCSU has improved from #318 in 2015-16 (54.0%) to #196 (51.2%) in 2017-18.
In addition to the program’s turnaround on the court, Marshall has overseen the Blue Devils achieving success in the classroom. In addition to Nehls earning CoSIDA Academic All-District recognition he posted a perfect 4.0 GPA during the Fall 2017 semester and graduated as the CCSU student-athlete with the highest GPA in addition to being named the Northeast Conference Men's Basketball Scholar-Athlete in 2018. Furthermore, five Blue Devils were named to the Dean’s List in the Fall 2017 semester. A total of two CCSU student-athletes have been named to the Northeast Conference Academic Honor Roll under Marshall, including Nehls being named to the NEC Commissioners Honor Roll.
Two former Blue Devils who played under Marshall have gone on to play in the professional ranks. Cumberlander signed his first professional contract to play in the LPB, the highest professional level in Portugal. Pierre signed to play in the Argentina TFB basketball league.
Marshall’s presence since arriving at CCSU has been recognized throughout the state. He was recognized in the fall of 2017 at the 100 Men of Color Black Tie Gala at The Bushnell in Hartford. The 100 Men of Color Black Tie Gala & Awards recognizes honorees’ contributions in business, education, entrepreneurship, government, entertainment, and service and the impact they have made on the lives of people in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts.
Since his arrival, Marshall’s program has been active throughout the community as well. The Blue Devils have participated in multiple clinics at Boys & Girls Clubs and other local organizations, as well as, taking part in events such as the Ana Grace Project: Love Wins, Finish the Race, and the Walk to End Alzheimers.
Following a successful 15-year playing career in the NBA, Marshall served as an assistant coach at both the NCAA Division I and professional levels. Before taking charge of the Blue Devils, Marshall was on the staff at the University at Buffalo and helped the program advance to the NCAA tournament for a second straight year in 2015-16.
Marshall and the Bulls reached the NCAA Tournament in 2015-16 after becoming the first team in 14 years to repeat as Mid-American Conference champions. Marshall handled duties as the recruiting coordinator and player development in helping Buffalo post a 20-15 overall record this past season. His work with the squad resulted in four student-athletes earning postseason All-MAC, All-Freshman and All-Defensive Team recognition.
Prior to joining the staff at Buffalo, Marshall spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Rider University. In 2014-15 he helped the Broncs tie the program record with 21 wins and post its best MAAC record at 15-5. The squad earned a postseason invitation to the College Basketball Invitational that season.
Before entering coaching, Marshall enjoyed a 15-year playing career in the NBA. He was the No. 4 overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 1994 NBA Draft and was an NBA All-Rookie Second Team pick. He averaged 11.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game during his career and tied a then single-game record for three-pointers with 12 against the Philadelphia 76ers on March 13, 2005.
He is one of just six players in NBA history to have 10,000 points, 5,000 rebounds, 750 blocks and 750 three-pointers in a career. He played with eight NBA franchises during his career and appeared in the 2007 NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers. During his career, Marshall played alongside players such as, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Kevin Durant and LeBron James.
Marshall began his coaching career at George Washington University in 2010-11 where he was involved in all coaching aspects, including recruiting, opponent scouting and player development. He helped the Colonials to a 17-14 record overall and a 10-6 mark in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
He also spent a season as an assistant coach in the professional ranks with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League.
Marshall enjoyed a highly-decorated collegiate playing career at the University of Connecticut, where he was named to the school's All-Century Team after finishing with 1,648 points in three seasons. As the program's first consensus All-America First Team honoree and a BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year in 1993-94, he averaged 25.1 points per game and helped the Huskies win 29 games. He set single-season school records for points (855), field goals made (307) and free throws made (200) that year which stood until broken by Kemba Walker in 2010-11.
Marshall is married to Leea and has two daughters, Taylor and Devynn and four sons, Terrance, Marquis, Paryss and Donyell, Jr.