Former Wichita State assistant coach Marty Gross began his tenure as Associate Head Men’s Basketball Coach for Texas A&M – Corpus Christi in April 2011. Gross, who served as an assistant with Wilson at Rice for 15 seasons, has more than 30 years of experience in college basketball.
In his third year with the team, the Islanders made a huge turnaround, as many of Gross' recruits peaked in their roles as college basketball players. John Jordan was named First Team All-Southland in his junior campaign, as he led the team to a 14-4 conference mark and a second-place finish. With 12 more wins than the previous season, the Islanders had the third-largest turnaround in the nation last year.
Jordan wasn't the only standout player to turn heads for the Islanders. Gross recruit Rashawn Thomas took the league by storm, posting 10.7 points and 5.2 rebounds as one of the top freshmen in the Southland. Junior college product Zane Knowles was one of the top rebounders in the league with 7.6 per game. And sophomore Brandon Pye shot 50 percent from beyond the arc, one of the top marks in the nation.
Gross has been key in luring some of the top talent from around the Lone Star State. In addition to landing Jordan out of Houston, the Islanders also have added class of 2014 product Joe Kilgore, who was a top-10 recruit in that city. The Islanders have also added strong pieces from San Antonio (Cole Martinez) and the Dallas area (Pye) in Gross’ tenure.
His recruiting ties aren’t just found in Texas, though. The Islanders have added players from the Northeast (Jelani Currie), Mid-Atlantic (Emmanuel Toney), Southeast (Zane Knowles), Great Plains (Thomas) and West Coast (Hameed Ali) to their roster in Gross’ time.
Before coming to the Coastal Bend, Gross spent the previous four seasons as an assistant coach at Wichita State, where he helped lead the Shockers to 29 wins and the NIT title in 2010-11 season. In each of his four seasons, WSU improved its win total, and over four years averaged more than 20 wins. Each of the last two years, the Shockers finished in the Missouri Valley Conference’s top two during the regular season.
Prior to joining the WSU staff, Gross served as an assistant at Rice from 1992-2007. At Rice, Gross coordinated recruiting and was involved extensively in all areas of the day-to-day operations of the men’s basketball program, including fund-raising, player development, community outreach, scouting and a daily practice focus on team defense. He helped the Owls to 60 wins from 2002-05, the second-most wins in a three-year span in school history.
Gross has been instrumental in cultivating the careers of 36 pros, including 21 from Rice, eight from Jacksonville, two from Birmingham Southern College and five from WSU. Some of the more notable pros at Rice included 6-foot-6 guard Morris Almond, who was a first-round pick of the Utah Jazz in 2007. Gross also helped mentor 6-foot-6 forward Mike Harris (Houston Rockets), 6-foot point guard Mike Wilks (San Antonio Spurs), and 6-foot-10 center Brent Scott (Indiana Pacers).
He began his collegiate coaching career at Birmingham Southern upon graduating from Jacksonville University in 1977. During his four years in Birmingham, the Panthers were 103-27, captured three consecutive Southern States Conference championships, competed in two national tournaments and achieved a national ranking as high as second in the NAIA polls.
In addition to Birmingham Southern, Gross also coached at his alma mater, Jacksonville. His first stint with the Dolphins was from 1981-83. After spending two seasons as an assistant at Rice, Gross then returned to JU in 1985 and spent the next seven years at the campus, including three seasons as the school’s associate head coach. In 1985-86, the Dolphins were 21-10, won the Sun Belt Conference Championship and made an appearance in the NCAA tournament. In 1986-87, the Dolphins were 19-11 and received an NIT postseason bid.
While at Jacksonville, Gross teamed with former New Jersey Nets coach and current CBS and ESPN color commentator Bob Wenzel, helping nurture the careers of six Dolphins selected in the NBA draft. Some of the more notable players include 1986 second-round pick (Denver) and current Orlando Magic General Manager Otis Smith, 1987 first-round pick Ronnie Murphy (Portland), 1990 first-round selection and NBA Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown (Boston) and 1992 second-round pick Tim Burroughs (Minnesota).
As a college player, Gross was a four-year letterman for Jacksonville, serving as the team’s co-captain as a senior in 1977. He also played on the 1974 Jacksonville NIT team, which featured four NBA draft selections. He received a B.S. in management from Jacksonville in 1977 and a Masters in the Art of Teaching from the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) in 1979.
Gross is a native of Yankton, S.D., where he was an all-state basketball player as a senior in 1973. He is a member of the NABC, TABC, and Saint James Episcopal Church. Gross is married to Mary Pat Nelson, a native of Beaumont.