UAA Athletics

A couple of familiar faces join coaching staff for UAA men’s basketball team

A man who coached the Wasilla Warriors to three championship-game appearances at the state basketball tournament and another who played three seasons at UAF have joined the UAA men’s basketball coaching staff.

Ryan Engebretsen coached the Warriors for 12 seasons, guiding them to the Class 4A title game in 2010, 2017 and 2018 and claiming the championship in 2018.

Jalon McCullough is a novice coach who is just one year removed from his days as a college basketball player. He starred for the Monroe Rams in high school — he was a member of three Class 3A state championship teams — and played one year of junior college before returning to Fairbanks to play three seasons for the Nanooks.

Engebretsen is a volunteer coach, and McCullough is one of two assistant coaches, along with veteran assistant Ryan Orton.

Head coach Rusty Osborne said Engebretsen brings instant credibility and McCullough is quickly earning respect.

Engebretsen joined the team last season, which the Seawolves skipped because of the pandemic.

“Despite being a ‘volunteer coach,’ he is a very valuable asset for our staff and players alike,” Osborne said in a news release from school. “With his experience and skill, it has been easy to give him duties and know he will get the job done.”

Among the players Engebretsen is coaching is a guy who did his best to beat Wasilla in the 2018 state championship game.

Freshman guard Isaiah Moses was a sophomore for Dimond High that season, and he totaled 14 points and six assists in the title game. Engebretsen and the Warriors prevailed 47-44 when a halfcourt buzzer shot by Moses came up short.

McCullough is also a former rival for some of the Seawolves. He was a point guard who played in 77 games for the Nanooks, and in that capacity he played a handful of games against UAA guard Tobin Karlberg. Now he’s coaching Karlberg.

“Jalon is a young coach, but one who is excited and dedicated to beginning his career,” Osborne said. “He has already proven to be very good at skill development, and in a short time is gaining the respect of everyone in our program.”

The Seawolves begin practice soon. They’re scheduled to play exhibition games on Oct. 29 and Nov. 6 in preparation for their season-opening game at Hawaii Pacific on Nov 13.

Beth Bragg

Beth Bragg wrote about sports and other topics for the ADN for more than 35 years, much of it as sports editor. She retired in October 2021. She's contributing coverage of Alaskans involved in the 2022 Winter Olympics.