The Ventura College men's basketball program is pleased to announce that Pirate Hall of Fame alumnus Lester Neal will be joining the coaching staff for the 2017-18 season. Neal, a 1991 Ventura College graduate and a 2008 VC Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, comes to VC from Chandler-Gilbert Community College in Arizona where he was an assistant coach last season. He also spent four seasons as an assistant at Scottsdale Community College (AZ).
With his extensive coaching background and experience working with youth, we are looking forward to what the future holds," said VC head coach Joey Ramirez. "He is a genuine person and I trust him completely. He is a community college product and understands the process.'
Neal came to Ventura College from Dunbar High School in Chicago, IL. Playing for coach Phil Mathews with the Pirates in 1989-90 and 1990-91, Neal was a force to be reckoned with, earning All-Western State Conference and All-State honors for two seasons. He also was named the WSC Most Valuable Player as a sophomore and was also named a Junior College All-American. In 1991, Neal led the Pirates to a 30-5 record and to the regional finals of the CCCAA State Playoffs. He set the Pirates' rebounding record that stands to this day, and was inducted into the VC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.
Coach Neal transferred to Arizona State University, leading the Sun Devils in rebounding for two years, setting the pace for the Pac-10 Conference as a senior. His 484 rebounds is fourth-most by a two-year player in Sun Devil history, as is his 8.2 boards per game average. He was the first recipient of the Lester Neal Warrior Award, an honor created by his coaches for someone who demonstrated leadership, discipline and a strong work ethic.
Coach Neal spent ten years playing professionally in Europe, Asia and South America. Upon completion of his playing career, he returned to the Phoenix area and began working as a mentor and life coach with inner city youth in addition to spending time with Native American children on Arizona's Indian reservations.
Coach Neal has always been the type to finish what he started. He left Arizona State to play professional basketball before completing his degree, and in 2010, he returned to school. On December 19, 2012, Neal received his Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) from Arizona State University after twenty years. His achievement was documented by several media outlets and has been a source of talking points when discussing life skills with student athletes.
"I am extremely excited," said Neal on his return to Ventura College. "I've always considered VC as the place that raised me."
Coach Neal is expected to begin work on campus in July.