The culture change of the boys’ basketball program at Providence High School has made the Pioneers one of the most competitive teams in the CIF Southern Section since the arrival of head coach Brandon Lincoln, and he hopes to carry over that success as an administrator.
The school recently announced Lincoln as the new athletic director after he’d served as an assistant A.D. and physical education teacher since his arrival in 2017. He assumed his new duties immediately and will continue to coach the boys’ basketball team.
“We are so excited to welcome coach Lincoln as director of athletics,” Head of School Scott McLarty said in a statement. “He is already an accomplished mentor to and supporter of students and coaches alike, and in this new role, will demonstrate his considerable leadership skills. We can’t wait to see the positive impact he will have on the entire Providence High School community in the years ahead.”
Lincoln, 36, said he enjoys working with high school athletes, pushing them to improve and providing a platform that allows them to showcase their talent. He will oversee a Providence athletics department that includes 20 teams in 11 sports and more than 30 coaches.
“Athletics has been an important part of my life for more than 25 years,” Lincoln said in a statement. “It has given me purpose and has put me in a position to take the values and lessons I’ve learned through athletics and share them with Providence High School student athletes.”
Lincoln grew up in Portland and was a McDonald’s All-American nominee at Jefferson High School. He was among ESPN’s top 100 high school seniors and went on to play at the University of Oregon, helping the men’s basketball team win a Pac-10 Tournament title in 2003. Lincoln graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and went on to earn a master’s in educational leadership. The former Duck joined a professional league in Germany and led the ETB Wohnbau Baskets in scoring.
After a two-year stint in Europe, Lincoln received an offer he could not pass up.
“Dana Altman was [head coach] at the University of Oregon at the time,”
Lincoln recalled. “I wasn’t a great player. I was more of a role player. He offered me a position to be a graduate coach and work with him as he started to build the program. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse, and I got my master’s at the same time.”
Despite playing since he was a child, Lincoln had never envisioned himself becoming a coach but realized it was his calling when given the opportunity.
“I didn’t know at the time,” Lincoln said. “I played with a bunch of great players. … All these guys are strong professional players, and I was very fortunate to have been there with them. I didn’t know I always had a good feel for the game.
Lincoln learned a great deal under the tutelage of Altman and keeps in touch with his mentor, who is “always down to talk basketball.”
“Seeing what he’s been able to do is great, and it really changed my life,” he said.
After earning his master’s in 2012, Lincoln worked as the director of video operations at Miami University in Ohio before returning to Oregon as an assistant conditioning coach. He moved on from his alma mater and served as an assistant for three seasons at Montana State.
“Once I was able to learn and see Altman coach and how detailed and simplistic his plan was to make his players and other coaches better, I had to give it a shot and see what I could do,” he said. “I knew I wanted to be a head coach. I was never really opposed to coaching at a high school, it was just getting the right opportunity.”
That came along in 2017 when Lincoln heard about a coaching vacancy at a private school in Burbank. He interviewed for the position at Providence because his wife was originally from the San Fernando Valley and they had plans to move back. Then Head of School Joe Sciuto took a chance on the Oregon product.
“As I arrived on campus, I saw a great community, school and facilities,” he said. “I asked myself, ‘Why can’t we have something respectful here? Why can’t we have a solid, consistent program?’ It was up to me to step up and create a plan and work with [athletes] and work on relationships and showcase their game.”
Under Lincoln, the Pioneers finished the 2017-18 campaign with a 19-10 record, and the program experienced even better days ahead.
Providence won back-to-back Prep League championships and competed in the CIF State tournament the past two seasons. The team finished as a CIF-SS Division IV-A runner-up last year and Division III-AA semifinalists last February.
“The kids really flourished. They exceeded all expectations with what they brought and what we were able to implement. Even if we lost some games, we got that experience and we had that margin of success.”
The Pioneers have gone on an impressive three-year run with a 75-26 mark, and the Portland native was recognized for his efforts in 2019 when he was named CIF-SS Division IV Coach of the Year.
“I’m just fortunate to come into it with a group of kids with talent and potential,” Lincoln said. “That meant it was time to get to work. I really put in a lot of work and really pushed those guys to improve. I challenged them with tough schedules, inviting Notre Dame High School, Loyola and other schools we’re trying to emulate. We put them in a situation they haven’t been in before.”
A passion for sports, willingness to help athletes and ability to build strong relationships within the community makes Lincoln an ideal candidate for the A.D. position.
“I’m excited and humbled at this opportunity to take on this position and become the caretaker of the athletics department,” he said. “I have some goals that I want to execute.”
Lincoln is already working toward those goals, which include creating a welcoming environment, attracting local athletes and providing a positive experience at Providence.
“I am very much motivated to improve what we offer athletically,” he said. “I want kids looking at Providence to know they can execute their goals and dreams and go to the next level. … Our intent is to give students the best experience possible. Talent level varies from kid to kid, but we can help them progress and prepare them to play and showcase themselves.”
However, the new A.D.’s goals are already being challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. High school officials and athletics governing bodies throughout the state are still unsure how to approach the fall season.
“Obviously, it’s very unfortunate, and something I would have hoped [the country] would have been better prepared for,” Lincoln said. “The way it spread, we just didn’t know how detrimental it would be to us. Hopefully we can be back running as normal. Athletics is a big arena for people of different races and gender to come together. It has a power to heal, but it has to be right, it has to be safe and not be a danger for anyone.
“As we educate ourselves on COVID-19 and what it is doing to us, we will take the time to have definitive answers as to how to proceed. I would like to get back on campus. I’ve never wanted to get back to work so bad in my life. But we must be patient and follow guidelines and control what we can.”