Interview with Dusty May the head coach of Florida Atlantic.
“I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.” – Abraham Lincoln
Dusty May is the head coach of Florida Atlantic University (FAU) entering his third year in charge and he looks to have his Owls on the verge of overnight success heading into 2020-21.
However, it’s been said that overnight success can often take a long time.
May led FAU to back-to-back winning campaigns for the first time since the 1996-97 season going 17-15 this past year.
Prior to his arrival in Boca Raton, the Owls hadn’t had a winning season in eight years and they haven’t made it to the NCAA tournament since 2002. Despite hovering just above the .500 mark during May’s early tenure there is plenty of optimism surrounding the program at Florida Atlantic.
FAU is May’s first job as a head coach after spending nearly two decades as an assistant at Florida, Louisiana Tech, UAB, Murray State and Eastern Michigan as well as being a student manager under Bobby Knight at Indiana back in the late 90’s.
On the floor, the Owls will be led by 6-foot-7 senior forward Jailyn Ingram who was the teams leading scorer last year with 12 points per game along with 5.4 rebounds. Ingram struggled through the effects of an ACL injury this past year but if the Madison, GA native can replicate his numbers from the previous year when he averaged 18.9 points and 8.2 rebounds, the Owls could be in a much better position for success in Conference USA in 2020-21.
They will also return junior guard Michael Forrest who played in all 32 games last year and chipped in with 9.2 points per game coming mostly off the bench.
6-foot-6 sophomore guard Kenan Blackshear is the younger brother of former Florida and Virginia Tech star Kerry Blackshear Jr. and he is expected to take on a much bigger role for the Owls in 2020-21.
Florida Atlantic has of course received recent notoriety due to the success of their football program under Lane Kiffin who has recently moved on to be the new head coach at Ole Miss.
May spoke highly of Kiffin and his effect on recruiting for the basketball program at FAU.
He said, “He’s lended a bit of credibility and almost across the board all sports are improving rapidly.” May added, “I strongly believe this athletic department is on strong footing and Lane allowed us to kind of put ourselves out there at a championship level, winning a couple of Conference USA championships in a place where that is not common.”
Although Conference USA is often known as a Juco and transfer league when it comes to new signings, FAU has added four new players straight out of high school ahead of 2020-21.
May said, “We’re really high on bringing guys in as freshman and spending four years with them and growing with them.”
May’s new signings include Alijah Martin a 6-foot-4 guard from Summit, MS. He was a two-sport athlete at North Pike High School where he averaged 25 points per game for the basketball team and was also First Team All-State as the QB in football where he combined for over 3400 total yards and 33 touchdowns. Martin also had offers to play football from UAB, Southern Miss, Tulane and Arkansas State.
Nicholas Boyd is a 6-foot-3 guard from Garnerville, NY who played at Don Bosco Institute where he averaged 15 points per game and was the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference Player of the Year.
Giancarlo Rosado is a 6-foot-8 forward from West Palm Beach who averaged 20 points per game for Palm Beach Lakes High School and was named All-Palm Beach County. He also played for the famed Each One Teach One EYBL squad.
Johnell “Nelly” Davis from Gary, Indiana could be a thriller for FAU in 2020-21 after averaging 25 points per game along with 10.1 rebounds during his senior year of high school. Davis was also named to the Nike EYBL All-Defensive team in AAU.
Heading into the 2020-21 season, May has a tempered approach to success and says he is looking for a top-four finish in C-USA in hopes of a first round bye in the conference championship tournament. He said, “We’ve got a group that we are very, very confident in because they’ve been together and we’re excited about the leadership of this group and the direction of this program.”
With May at the helm at FAU and the exciting growth of the program over the past few years it won’t be long before plenty more players decide they too want to be ballin’ in paradise in Boca Raton.