By Ray Hamill — Justin Claus has been rewarded for his contribution to the success of the College of the Redwoods men’s basketball team, as one of the best up and coming young coaches in the area continues to earn respect.
CR announced on Tuesday that Claus has been named the program’s new Associate Head Coach.
“Justin is probably the most underrated and talented young coach I’ve ever seen at our level,” head coach Ryan Bisio said. “We are beyond lucky to have him here. He’s been our secret weapon the entire time. The title of Associate Head coach more accurately describes his contributions to our historic success.”
Claus has been an assistant coach with Bisio for the past three years (two seasons) and has helped lead the Corsairs to their most successful run ever, winning back-to-back conference championships for the first time in program history, as well as posting playoff wins in back-to-back seasons.
“Players adore him,” Bisio said. “The game bends towards the purity of his energy, and for me, I’ve secured one of my best friends for life in our time working in full collaboration.”
Claus played at Fortuna High, CR and Cal Poly Humboldt (then Humboldt State) before entering the coaching ranks as an assistant coach at the latter.
“Coaching college basketball is something I hope to keep pursuing and hopefully I’ll be able to make a career out of it,” he said.
Claus has certainly enjoyed his time working with Bisio at CR.
“I think we work really good together,” he said. “We just work together as a team, and we know how to help each other out.”
Many of the players also have spoken highly this season of Claus’ influence, especially the four former Fortuna Huskies — Drew Gillette, Bradley Willis, Donald Willis and Justin’s younger brother, Zac Claus — each of whom he helped coach at the high school and AAU levels before they all joined CR at the same time.
“Justin, since high school, has been great in developing all of us and teaching us how to play basketball the right way,” Gillette said.
The new title likely won’t change Claus’ role that much, but it does solidify a coaching partnership that is building a name for CR basketball.
“Looking back at what we’ve done, it still amazes us and we’re very proud of it,” Justin Claus said. “I think we are in a good place as far as building a name for the program.
“We feel like we’re in a great place right now, and it’s on us to keep it going, and we’re confident we can do that.”