La Salle didn't have to venture outside of the Big 5 to find its new basketball coach.
The university Sunday announced Villanova top assistant Ashley Howard has been hired as the Explorers' next head coach. Howard will be formally introduced in a press conference Monday at 11 a.m.
"It's an honor and a privilege to be named the head coach at La Salle University," Howard said in a press release from the university. "I chose to coach at La Salle early in my career because of its incredible tradition in the Big 5, its dedication to athletic excellence and its commitment to its student-athletes. To have the opportunity to return to campus and lead this storied basketball program — a program defined by greats such as Gola, Durrett, Brooks, Simmons and Butler — is one for which I'm deeply appreciative."
Howard, who attended Monsignor Bonner High and graduated from Drexel, began his coaching career in 2004 at La Salle as an assistant to Dr. John Giannini.
"As a former assistant coach here, we know firsthand that Ashley Howard is an exceptional coaching talent who has a deep understanding of both La Salle's basketball tradition and its important student-focused mission," La Salle director of intercollegiate athletics and recreation Bill Bradshaw said. "This is a university that holds character, integrity and commitment to that mission in the highest esteem, and our men's basketball coach has the unique responsibility of reflecting that on and off the court."
After four years with the Explorers, Howard returned to his alma mater in 2008 as an assistant coach for the Dragons until 2012, when he moved over to Xavier as an assistant.
Following one season with Xavier, Howard returned to Philadelphia as an assistant on Jay Wright's staff, where he experienced two national championships.
"Ashley is an outstanding coach who made a great impact on our program and University in his five years with us," Wright said. "His passion for mentoring young men and teaching skill has been invaluable in our team's development. La Salle has made a terrific selection and all of us at Villanova are thrilled for Ashley, Ariana and Journey as they embark on this new phase of Ash's career."
Giannini's 14-year tenure with La Salle ended in late March when he and the university "mutually agreed to part ways."