Known as a tireless recruiter and excellent on-the-court coach, Chris Hollender is in his third year at Mississippi State following a three-year stint in the same capacity at Evansville, his alma mater.
“Chris is a guy that I’ve known for a long time,” MSU coach Rick Ray said. “He has an outstanding reputation as a worker, a recruiter and more importantly as a great on-the-court basketball coach. He will do an unbelievable job with skills development for our players and helping me teach in the intricacies of the motion offense.”
Hollender returned to Evansville in 2009 after spending seven years on Jim Crews’ staff at Army.
“I’m very fortunate, and I’m very excited to get to work at such a well-respected institution and for a guy I’ve known and trusted for a very long time,” Hollender said. “Coach Ray is a relentless worker with impeccable character and is second to none in his knowledge with the game of basketball.”
In his first season at Mississippi State, Hollender was instramental in the development of sophomore Roquez Johnson and junior college transfer Colin Borchert. Then last year, it continued with the development of Gavin Ware and Fallou Ndoye.
As a freshman, Johnson played a total of 45 minutes and scored just one point. But under Hollender’s guideance, Johnson averaged 8.8 points and 4.5 rebounds while blocking 15 shots his sophomore season and 9.7 points a year ago.
The results were similar for Borchert, who totaled 9.0 points and 5.0 boards, while finishing second with 33 made 3-pointers and second in 3-point field goal percentage (.337) as a junior before averaging 8.7 points last year and making 40 3-pointers.
As a player, Hollender performed with the same intensity he has a coach.
After spending his freshman season at Lake Land (Ill.) College in his hometown of Mattoon, Ill., he transferred to Evansville, where he became an All-MVC standout.
As a senior, he led the Missouri Valley Conference in field goal percentage (.548), and he was captain of the MVC Most Improved Team in 1998 after his scoring average rose from 11.8 as a junior to 16.5 as a senior.
His best outing came against Big 10 powerhouse Indiana, where he poured in 34 points.. In his final season for the Purple Aces, he recorded seven double-doubles.
In 84 career games, including his 70 starts, Hollender averaged 12.3 points and 5.9 rebounds. He currently ranks 42nd all-time on the school’s scoring chart.
After graduating with a degree in marketing, Hollender spent one season with Bremerhaven in Germany before joining the St. Louis Swarm of the International Basketball League. The Swarm won the IBL Championship in each of Hollender’s two seasons with the club (1999-2000, 2000-01).
He then signed on with the Rockford Lightning of the Continental Basketball Association, where he played 14 games during the 2001-02 campaign before starting his coaching career at West Point.
“He did an awesome job for us,” UE coach Marty Simmons said. “He’s smart, knowledgeable and is a great communicator with the players. As good as a coach as he is, he’s an even better person. He’s A-plus in everything. He’s a quality person and someone I consider family. He’ll do a great job at Mississippi State.”
Hollender and his wife, Kathryn, have a son, Jackson (6).