Raul Placeres’ time will come at Maryville College, but he’s not ready to talk about it.
The school on Monday announced that men’s basketball coach Randy Lambert will retire following the 2018-19 season — his 39th at Maryville. The school also announced that Placeres, who has been an assistant for the last seven seasons, will be Lambert’s successor.
Lambert will leave big shoes to fill. His 701 wins rank fourth among current Division III coaches. He has led Maryville to the NCAA Tournament 19 times, including last season.
Placeres said he is excited for the opportunity but emphasized that he is not yet in charge. He said he will continue to do his job as associate coach.
“My biggest thing is I want coach (Lambert) to leave his final year on a really good note and in really good fashion,” Placeres said. “My time will come once this season is over. My era of coaching with my guys will start then. For right now, it is all about the Scots and all about coach’s final season.”
Placeres, who played for Lambert from 2003-2006, said the two have talked for years about Placeres potentially taking over. The biggest factor was that Lambert found the right time to step away.
The eight-player senior class that returns for next season has led consecutive 20-win seasons and has high hopes of a second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Seeing out those seniors to the end of their careers, Placeres said, is a big factor in the timing of Lambert’s retirement.
Lambert will take on a role of part-time athletics campaign coordinator as the school begins plans to renovate Cooper Athletic Center.
He said making the announcement now gives Placeres “a chance to be directly and visibly involved in the transition.”
“I love the passion Raul brings to coaching,” Lambert said. “It’s the same love he had as a player. He knows the game, and he has a knack for relating to our players. I think he’s going to do just fine as head coach.”
Though he will not take over on the court until next year, Placeres will be elevated to a full-time position this summer. He will take over several off-court head coaching responsibilities like recruiting and scheduling.
He said he is thankful to president Dr. William Bogart, to vice president and dean of students Dr. Melanie Tucker and to athletics director Kandis Schram for his upcoming opportunity.
“I am super excited, but like with anything else it has come with God’s timing,” Placeres said. “It is not here yet ,and that is the biggest thing for me. It will come soon enough, but I am very focused on these eight seniors and sending them out the right way and sending coach out the right way.”