ANCHORAGE – University of Alaska Anchorage men’s basketball head coach Rusty Osborne announced Thursday that former assistant Ryan Orton has returned to the Seawolves as the program’s top assistant coach.
Orton comes back north after a 5-year stint as the head coach at Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs, Wyo., where he led the Mustangs to winning seasons in his last three campaigns, including 21- and 22-win seasons and NJCAA Region IX playoff berths in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
In his first stint with the Seawolves – from 2009-12 – Orton made an impact by securing commitments from three former Alaska Players-of-the-Year, plus a long list of Lower 48 prep and junior-college standouts. In 2011-12, Orton recruit Taylor Rohde was the GNAC Player of the Year and Division II Bulletin National Player of the Year for the Seawolves.
“I am excited to welcome Ryan back to the Seawolf family,” said Osborne, who enters his 14th season as head coach this fall. “We have maintained a close relationship over the last five years, and when he indicated a desire to return, it was an easy decision. Ryan has experience in our program and the transition from (former assistant) Cameron (Turner) to him will be seamless. He was an outstanding assistant his first three years, and with five years of head coaching experience, I’m sure he will make even more of an impact this time around. He knows UAA, he knows the Alaska basketball community, and he understands what we value in our program. I don’t think we could have found a better replacement.”
Orton coached at D-I program Montana State from 2006-08, where he was responsible for both recruiting and team academic development, while serving as position coach for post players. In his time with the Bobcats, the team had a 100 percent graduation rate, produced five Academic All-Big Sky honorees and earned the athletic department's 2006-07 Allison Award, given to the MSU team whose overall GPA improves most from one year to the next.
At conference rival Northwest Nazarene from 2004-06, Orton was involved in every facet of the program from on-court instruction and scouting to scheduling and fund-raising. He also proved one of the GNAC's top young recruiters, signing the league's 2007 Newcomer of the Year and the 2006 Idaho High School State Player of the Year.
Orton directed the program at Lane (Ore.) Community College in 2003-04, where his team led the NWAC South Region in points per game and ranked third overall among 36 league programs.
He got his start in college coaching at D-I Eastern Washington from 1998-2003, serving on the staff that produced the Big Sky Conference's best overall record over four seasons (2000-03).
Orton earned his bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from Eastern Oregon in 1996 and his master’s in physical education from Eastern Washington in 2001.
As a player at EOU, he was the 1996 team MVP and captain, earning honorable mention All-Cascade Conference honors. He also played collegiately at Northwest Christian University in Eugene, Ore., from 1991-93.