High school basketball: Brother Rice hires experienced basketball coach Conte Stamas

Brother Rice, a likely Super 25 team in November, has found its next coach.

A basketball program with a strong history and rich tradition took a hit with the sudden resignation of iconic Crusader Bobby Frasor last month. But athletic director Mike Fahey announced Thursday the hiring of Conte Stamas, a veteran coach and familiar name in Chicago area coaching.

While he’s recently spent five years rebuilding the Morton College program at the junior college level, Stamas burst on the scene nearly 30 years ago at the high school level when he was named the head coach at Evanston in 1994. He won four regional championships while at Evanston.

Stamas left Evanston for Lyons in 1989, where in 2000-01 he led the Lions to 28 wins, a fourth-place finish in Class AA and was named the City/Suburban Hoops Report Coach of the Year.

While Stamas hasn’t been a head high school coach since 2008, the Brother Rice job was too intriguing of a job to pass up. Stamas says he had a lot of respect and familiarity with the program.

During his time at Lyons from 1999-2008 Stamas played against Brother Rice when both were in the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic at York. His son attended coach Pat Richardson’s basketball camps at Brother Rice as a kid and Stamas remains close to Richardson, who won over 400 games as head coach at Brother Rice.

“This is a different place than a lot of other places,” Stamas said of Brother Rice. “The people here have been incredible, and I saw that through this process and felt so comfortable with them. There is a rich tradition. I love the neighborhood, the family atmosphere at Rice, the academics. … I felt so good about so much at Brother Rice.”

Even with coaching experience that dates back nearly four decades — Stamas was a college assistant coach for Pete Gillen’s highly-successful Xavier teams in the early 1990s — there is still an obvious enthusiasm from Stamas that draws attention.

“One thing that hasn’t changed about me is my passion,” Stamas said. “I feel my tank is full in terms of energy and passion.”

That came through loud and clear during the interview process.

“I am really, really excited,” Fahey, who was hired as the Brother Rice athletic director July 1, said. “I went into this trying to find someone with as much energy and passion as I have for this place. What he brought in those interviews was something special. His vision and energy, along with the experience and success he’s had, stands out. He can hit the ground running here.”

Stamas says the Brother Rice job is one he would never pass up. The fact he’s stepping into a program primed and ready to win immediately was a bonus.

“You could say it was the cherry on top,” Stamas said. “I wanted this job no matter what, but the talent here is really good.”

Standout senior Ahmad Henderson, a Division I point guard who has committed to Niagara, is the key returning player from a team that won 24 games a year ago. He averaged 15 points and four assists.

But also returning is Nick Niego, who made 92 three-pointers last season as a junior, double-figure scorer Khalil Ross and promising young players in 6-5 Zavier Fitch, power guard Tre Dowdell, point guard Cale Cosme and sophomore Marcos Gonzalez.

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