Abe Woldeslassie graduated from Macalester in 2008 with a degree in sociology and a desire to become a college basketball coach. He worked for two years at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas and applied for any coaching job that he found on the internet or elsewhere.
In March 2010, he went to Brunswick, Maine, for an interview and was hired as an assistant at Bowdoin College, a Division III school with rigorous academics. From there, he spent a season in basketball ops at Dartmouth, three seasons at Davidson and two as an assistant coach at Siena.
The highlight of that journey definitely was working for Bob McKillop, the veteran coach at Davidson.
“He’s the best leader and teacher of basketball I’ve ever been around,” Woldeslassie said. “My second year there, 2014-15, we went from the Southern Conference to the Atlantic 10 and were picked to finish last.
“We won the regular-season title and received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. We had three starters that didn’t have a dunk all season. We didn’t have the best athletes most nights, but there was tremendous buy-in from the players.
“I use that as an example for our players all the time.”
Those players are the current Macalester Scots. Many were involved in the 3-22 season of 2017-18 that led to coach Tim Whittle’s resignation. Woldeslassie was announced as Mac’s new coach on April 28.
Abe and assistant Conner Nord are recruiting energetically; for now, the Scots definitely need buy-in while facing a talent gap on most nights in the MIAC.
Last weekend, the opposition was St. Olaf, with coach Dan Kosmoski in his 25th year. Kosmoski was an assistant for Clem Haskins at Minnesota and ran Clem’s camps at St. Thomas.
One regular for several summers was short, skinny, dedicated Abe Woldeslassie from Richfield. “My dad came from Ethiopia in 1972, during the civil war there, and met my mom,” Woldeslassie said. “He was a soccer player, and I played it some, but I just fell in love with basketball playing in our neighborhood. That week at Clem’s camp was the highlight of every summer for me.”
PLUS THREE FROM PATRICK
More on Abe and the Scots:
• Siena coach Jimmy Patsos resigned April 13 following an accusation that he had verbally abused a student manager. The uncertainty there made it an easier decision for Woldeslassie to pursue the job at his alma mater.
• Woldeslassie spent two years on the St. Thomas JV team, transferred to Mac and was a two-year standout. He averaged 17.2 points in 50 career games.
• Abe’s third MIAC game was an 87-50 loss to Gustavus on Wednesday. It was the 500th victory for Mark Hanson (500-267), in his 29th season as Gusties coach.