(Kansas City, Mo.) – Kansas City men’s basketball has its entire coaching staff on board, announced Wednesday by Head Coach Kareem Richardson. Angres Thorpe is the Associate Head Coach, while Sean Bledsoe and Jason Sautter were named Assistant Coaches. Conner Hampton was elevated to the Director of Basketball Operations position, while former ‘Roo Spencer Johnson will serve as Graduate Assistant.
Both Thorpe and Bledsoe have been in Kansas City since mid-April, while Sautter became official this week. Hampton served in a graduate assistant role at UMKC the past two seasons, while Johnson returns to Kansas City after a professional playing career in Europe.
“I couldn’t be happier about the staff that is with me here,” Richardson said. “Each one of these guys are tremendous teachers and mentors for the players.”
Thorpe brings 20 years of experience with him, coming to UMKC after two seasons as the Associate Head Coach with the Toledo basketball program. He spent the previous two seasons as a member of Tod Kowalczyk's coaching staff at UW-Green Bay before coming with him to Toledo.
He helped coach Kowalczyk transform the program during his time at Toledo. The Rockets boasted a 15-win improvement in 2012 (second-best in the nation) and recorded UT’s first postseason win in 11 years. In his final season, the Rockets tied for first place in the MAC West Division with a 10-6 record, securing its first division title and most conference wins since 2007.
Thorpe's two seasons in Green Bay were memorable ones as the Phoenix posted a pair of 22-win seasons and advanced to post-season play for the first time since the 1995-96 campaign. His first year saw UWGB put together a 22-11 overall record, place second in the Horizon League and host a first-round game in the College Basketball Invitational. The Phoenix registered a 22-13 mark last season and advanced to the second round of the CBI.
Prior to joining the UWGB program, Thorpe spent the previous six seasons (2002-08) as an assistant at Saint Louis University. During his time with SLU, the Billikens averaged 16 wins per season and were one of the top defensive teams in both the Atlantic 10 and Conference USA. Thorpe coached five all-conference players and two all-rookie selections during his tenure.
Thorpe gained some familiarity with the Mid-American Conference when he worked two seasons as an assistant coach at Ball State. In 2001-02, the Cardinals posted a 23-12 record and earned a trip to the National Invitation Tournament. That campaign included upset wins over UCLA and Kansas at the Maui Invitational.
From 1996 to 2000, Thorpe helped guide Lewis University to a 75-37 mark and two trips to the NCAA Division II tournament. He was the Flyers' recruiting coordinator and was responsible for recruiting Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa and all junior colleges. During that time, the Flyers produced two Division II All-Americans.
Thorpe began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Loras College in Dubuque, IA, from 1993-96. During his tenure, Loras produced a NCAA Division III All-American, and the Duhawks were three-time runners-up in the prestigious National Catholic Basketball Tournament.
A Chicago native, Thorpe was a two-time All-Catholic League performer at Fenwick High School. He went on to become a four-year letterman at St. Leo College (Fla.). Thorpe earned his bachelor's degree in business management.
Bledsoe was most recently the President of the VC Athletic Group in Indianapolis since 2007, where he trained basketball players from elementary to professional age, while also starting and running the Midwest Elite Exposure Camp.
He also founded the D3 Heat AAU program, producing players like McDonald’s All-American Gary Harris (Michigan State), R.J. Hunter (Georgia State) and Austin Burgett (Notre Dame).
Prior to that, he spent 10 seasons coaching in the college ranks, most recently a three-year stretch as assistant coach/recruiting coordinator at Cleveland State through 2006. Bledsoe joined the Viking basketball coaching staff in the spring of 2003 after serving as an assistant coach at Bowling Green for two seasons (2001-03).
Bledsoe helped the Falcons to a 37-25 record during his two seasons. Included in that total was a 24-9 mark in 2001-02 that set the school record for wins.
A 1994 graduate of Indianapolis University with a Bachelor of Arts in education, Bledsoe began his coaching career with a two-year stint as assistant coach at Urbana University (1995-97). He left Urbana in 1997 to become assistant coach at Wilberforce University in southern Ohio.
Bledsoe was promoted to head coach after just one season, compiling a 26-25 record in two seasons (1998-2000). In his first season, he guided the Bulldogs to the school's first winning season.
Bledsoe resides his wife, Heather. He has five children, Jacobby, Khalil, Gabby, Collins and Paxton.
Sautter comes to UMKC after a two-year stop at Seward County C.C. (Kan.) as an assistant coach, where he helped the Saints to back-to-back Jayhawk West conference titles.
In 2012-13, the Saints posted a 14-2 conference mark and went 25-8 overall while receiving votes in the final NJCAA Poll. Known for his defensive coaching style, the team broke the school record with only 62.7 points allowed per game. The squad had three all-region selections, as well as an All-American in Kaheem Ransom. The team had four players sign with Division I schools as well.
In his first season, SCCC had a third place finish at the NJCAA National Tournament, winning the Region VI Championship. Sautter helped the Saints to the third-best opponents’ points per game average in school history at 63.4. He saw Deverell Biggs earn Jayhawk West and Region VI MVP honors before being named a first-team NJCAA All-American. He also had two players named to the NJCAA All-Tournament Team.
Prior to joining Seward, Sautter was the head coach at Western Texas College, posting a 55-30 record over three seasons. The program returned to the NJCAA regional championships after being absent for 27 years, and led his team to an NJCAA national ranking for the first time in 30 years. He also led his team to the No. 1 defensive ranking in the country during the 2010-11 season.
Sautter was the Associate Coach at Howard College before his stop at Western Texas. He helped lead the program to a 112-23 record during his four-year tenure. During the 2005-06 season, Sautter assisted the Hawks to a 35-2 record, a No. 1 national ranking, and the WJCAC Conference Championship.
In his first two seasons at Howard, Sautter was a part of a staff that led the team to a combined record of 62-8. During his tenure at Howard, Sautter recruited and helped coach the NJCAA Player of the Year, Region V MVP, WJCAC Player of the Year, and a First Team All-American, as well as four all-region players, and 14 all-conference players.
Prior to his days at Howard, Sautter had a brief stint at Lincoln University during the 2003-04 season as the assistant coach. Before he arrived at Lincoln, he served as a graduate assistant at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. During the 2002-03 season, Harding had a record of 21-9, while making the GSC Tournament and the NCAA-II National Tournament.
From 1999-2001, Sautter was the Head Boys Basketball and Baseball Coach at Bakersfield High School in Bakersfield, Mo. Along with the coaching abilities, he was recognized for his teaching achievements there.
Sautter earned his bachelor’s degree from York College and his masters in education from Harding. He and his wife Jacy have three children, sons Jacob and Jadon, and daughter Jordyn.
Hampton has been promoted for the third time in three years, this time to the Director of Basketball Operations position. He joined the UMKC men's basketball team as a manager in 2011, and was promoted to the graduate assistant position for the 2012-13 season.
He has helped with film exchange, cutting game and practice film, and assisting with practice. In his current position, he organizes team travel, oversees film exchange, game and practice film editing, scouting opponents and day to day operations.
He played at Highland Community College for one season, before transferring to Tabor College (Hillsboro, Kan.) to finish out his career. After his playing days concluded, he served as the head junior varsity coach and second assistant on the varsity team at TC. His duties included preparing practice plans, doing game preparation, and maintaining day-to-day operations.
In high school, he attended Kapaun Mt. Carmel in Wichita during his freshman and sophomore years, playing football, basketball and baseball. He transferred to Oxford High school for his junior and senior seasons, and played three sports there as well. Oxford went 18-4 in basketball during his time there, as he led the league is points at 21.8 a game, and assists in 2007. He was a first-team all-league and coaches all-state selection. He led OHS to the SCBL regular season and tournament championships. The team was ranked No. 1 in Class 2A during the month of January.
A native of Wichita, Kan., he graduated from Tabor College with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education in May of 2011. He is currently working on his master's degree in education at UMKC.
Johnson is no stranger to UMKC basketball as he is the school’s all-time leader in rebounds and games played during his career from 2007-11. He returns to serve as the graduate assistant after playing professionally in Europe.
An honorable mention All-Summit League pick, he recorded a UMKC single-season record 283 rebounds as a senior, averaging 9.4 rebounds per game to rank second in school history. He also recorded 21 rebounds in a game vs. North Dakota State that year, the second-highest total in school history.
He set the school records for career rebounds (710) and games (121), that year as well. He ranks 10th in UMKC history in scoring (993) and field goals made (352), ninth in field goal attempts (792) and three-point field goal attempts, sixth in minutes played (2951) and tied for fourth in games started (91). Johnson’s 16 double-doubles are third in school history, while his 22 double-figure rebound contests are tied for second, and his 45 double-figure scoring games are tied for 10th all-time. At one point during his career, he started 50 consecutive games.
Johnson started his professional career in August of 2011 in the Luxembourg top division on team Etzella. He averaged 22 points and 12 rebounds a game there, before switching teams to a league in Portugal, playing for Udo Uniao Desportiva Oliveirense. He was the team’s leading scorer and co-captain. He helped them to a 20-9 mark and to the Championship Final Four. He had a season high 36 points and 14 rebounds in a second round playoff game. Johnson also recorded eight double doubles during the regular season. He had season-high 19 rebounds during the regular season as well, and made the league’s All-Newcomer squad.
A product of Champaign, Illinois, he graduated from Central High School, where he enjoyed an award-winning basketball career, earning all-state honors while helping the squad win two conference and two regional crowns. After high school, he attended prep school at the Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina for one year.
He graduated from UMKC in 2011 with his bachelor’s degree in liberal arts.