Rob Ehsan named UIC men’s basketball head coach

Rob Ehsan, left, and UIC Director of Athletics Michael Lipitz hold up a jersey at the April 1 press conference announcing Ehsan's appointment as the new head coach for UIC men's basketball. (Phil Bergman)
Rob Ehsan (left) and Michael Lipitz hold up a jersey at the April 1 press conference announcing Ehsan’s appointment as the new head coach for UIC men’s basketball. (Photo: Phil Bergman/UIC)

Rob Ehsan, one of the nation’s top young coaches and an elite recruiter, has been named UIC men’s basketball head coach designate, subject to approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

Ehsan brings 20 years of college basketball coaching experience to UIC, including four as head coach at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he posted winning seasons in each campaign. He spent the past three years as associate head coach and offensive coordinator at Stanford University in the Pac-12 Conference.

“We are delighted to welcome Rob to UIC and our vibrant campus community,” said Chancellor Marie Lynn Miranda. “Coach Ehsan brings both deep experience and strong leadership on and off the basketball court. He has demonstrated a fervent commitment to ensuring the success of student athletes in all the many dimensions of their lives. Coach Ehsan brings an impressive track record to UIC, and we look forward to working with him as he elevates Flames Basketball to the next level.”

“Rob is a dynamic and dedicated leader who shares UIC’s values and has a clear vision to advance Flames Basketball in the Missouri Valley Conference,” said Director of Athletics Michael Lipitz. “He is an elite recruiter with extensive experience in Illinois, nationally and internationally. He is innovative on the court and invests deeply in his relationships with his players off the court. We are excited to welcome Rob, his wife, Lindsey, and their children, Katelyn, Davis and Ryder, to our Flames family.”

Ehsan (pronounced E-sahn) has earned a reputation as a superb offensive tactician with a keen eye for talent. During his career, which includes stops at three “power conference” programs (University of Maryland, Virginia Tech and Stanford), Ehsan has led his teams to three conference titles and eight postseason appearances (four NCAA Tournaments). He has recruited numerous All-Americans and future NBA Draft picks, including Greivis Vasquez (2010 Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year) and Alex Len (No. 5 overall pick in 2012 NBA Draft).

Rob Ehsan has been named UIC men’s basketball head coach.
Rob Ehsan has been named UIC men’s basketball head coach. (Photo: Phil Bergman/UIC)

“I could not be more excited to join the Flames family as the head coach of UIC men’s basketball,” Ehsan said. “From our location in the heart of Chicago, the nation’s greatest and most diverse city, to competing in one of the country’s top leagues, the Missouri Valley Conference — all the pieces are in place to take this program to the next level. Our fans are passionate, our students are elite and we have incredible support from Chancellor Miranda and Director of Athletics Michael Lipitz. My family and I are thrilled to be part of Chicago’s College Team. Fire up, Flames!”

For the past three seasons (2021-24), Ehsan was an assistant coach and lead recruiter at Stanford. He was the architect of a Stanford offense that ranked among the top 35 nationally and reached 20-year highs for offensive efficiency. This past season the Cardinal defeated No. 5 Arizona State University by 18 points, marking the biggest win ever for Stanford against a top-five opponent.

Ehsan signed a pair of McDonald’s All-Americans during his three-year tenure with the Cardinal. In addition, Stanford’s 2023 incoming class featured two top-40 recruits for the first time since 2006.

Under Ehsan’s tutelage, Harrison Ingram was named the 2022 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year — Stanford’s first since 2000 — while Spencer Jones blossomed into an All-Pac-12 forward in 2023 and Sam Beskind was named Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year following the 2021-22 season.

Ehsan made his way to Stanford following a four-year tenure as the head coach at University of Alabama at Birmingham, where his teams posted 76 wins (19 per season) and registered a winning record each year. His 2020 squad was on its way to a third-straight, 20-win campaign when COVID-19 prematurely ended the season. He developed several All-Conference USA selections, including Chris Cokley, Jalen Benjamin and two-time C-USA Defensive Player of the Year William Lee. At the time of his hire in Birmingham, Ehsan was one of the five youngest Division I coaches in the country.

Rob Ehsan at a press conference April 1, 2024, announcing his appointment as the new UIC men’s basketball head coach. (Phil Bergman)
Rob Ehsan at a press conference April 1, 2024, announcing his appointment as the new UIC men’s basketball head coach. (Phil Bergman/UIC)

In the classroom, Ehsan’s University of Alabama at Birmingham teams garnered consecutive NCAA Public Recognition awards for exemplary academic progress rates, marking the only times in school history that such honors have been bestowed. Off the court and in the community, the program partnered with the Mike Slive Foundation to promote the #BlockCancer campaign, which raised money for prostate cancer research.

Ehsan’s tenure as head coach at University of Alabama at Birmingham included numerous marquee victories, including a win over Memphis, 71-56, on Nov. 30, 2017, and a win at Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 7, 2016, which snapped their 31-game home-win streak. The 41-year-old coach won 62.5 percent of his games in the C-USA Tournament, which ranks as second best of all time at University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Before taking the helm of the Blazers’ program, Ehsan spent four years as assistant coach in Birmingham under Jerod Haase, including the final two as associate head coach. He was a member of the coaching staff for a team that advanced to the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament with a landmark first-round win against third-seeded Iowa State.

Overall, University of Alabama at Birmingham made four trips to the postseason in Ehsan’s eight years as coach. Additional highlights during his time in Birmingham included a 26-win campaign in 2016-17 (the winningest season in program history), a victory over then-No. 16 North Carolina in 2013 and the signing of William Lee, the highest-rated recruit in University of Alabama at Birmingham history.

Earlier, Ehsan spent six seasons as an assistant at Maryland (2006-11) under legendary Hall of Fame coach Gary Williams and another season at Virginia Tech (2011-12) under current ESPN college basketball analyst Seth Greenberg. At the time of his arrival at Maryland, Ehsan was the youngest assistant coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference (26 years old). He helped the Terrapins to three NCAA Tournaments and two NIT berths, as well as the 2010 Atlantic Coast Conference regular season championship. Ehsan recruited and coached five future NBA Draft picks while in College Park, Maryland, including Vasquez, who went on to win the 2010 Bob Cousy Award as the nation’s top point guard and was selected 23rd overall in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Between his time at Alabama and Stanford, Ehsan founded the TopConnect Leadership Academy, an exclusive program to prepare the top graduate assistant coaches (men’s and women’s) in college basketball for careers in coaching. He also worked for the Pac-12 Network as a color and studio analyst.

Ehsan is a 2005 graduate of University of California, Davis, where he was a four-year basketball letter winner, ranked in the top 25 nationally in free-throw percentage his junior year and served as team captain his senior season. After completing his bachelor’s degree in economics at UC Davis, he earned his MBA from Maryland in 2008.

A native of Sacramento, California, Ehsan is married to the former Lindsey Rattray. They have one daughter, Katelyn, and two sons, Davis and Robert Ryder.

Read more about Rob Ehsan.

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