MIAMI – Florida International head basketball coach Jeremy Ballard is a finalist for the Joe B. Hall National Coach of the Year Award.
The award is presented annually to the top first-year coach in Division I basketball.
Ballard led FIU to its first winning record since the 2012-13 season and the Panthers have a winning record in Conference USA play for the first time since joining the league in 2013.
The Panthers (19-12, 10-8 C-USA), seeded No. 7 in the C-USA tournament, are poised for their first 20-win season in school history.
Ballard came to FIU after 14 seasons as an assistant coach at Colgate, Tulsa, Illinois State, Pittsburgh and, most recently, Virginia Commonwealth.
FIU will face No. 10 seed North Texas (20-10, 8-9) in a first-round game Wednesday night.
Bob Weltlich remains the last coach to guide the Panthers to their lone NCAA tournament appearance in 1995.
A 15-member panel, including current and retired head coaches, will choose the recipient of this year's Joe B. Hall National Coach of the Year Award. The winner will be announced April 5 during the Final Four in Minneapolis.