WVU men’s basketball assistant Billy Hahn retires

West Virginia’s Joe Mazzulla, right, jokes with assistant coach Billy Hahn before NCAA college basketball practice at the Coliseum, on Tuesday, March 30, 2010. Hahn announced is retirement on Saturday.

Billy Hahn, a popular assistant to WVU basketball coach Bob Huggins, began his coaching career in the Mountain State. And on Saturday he announced that’s where it will end.

“I’m a happy man,” Hahn said. “After 41 years of basketball coaching, I told Huggy Bear I think I’ve had enough. I decided June 1 would be a good time to take a walk.”

Hahn began his career in Charleston, assisted at Davidson, Rhode Island and Ohio University, but really earned his stripes as an assistant at Maryland and WVU. He was also a head coach at La Salle from 2001 to 2004. He served as a WVU assistant coach from 2007-11 and as assistant to the head coach since 2011.

“When I reflect on it, I started at Morris Harvey [now the University of Charleston] and have come full circle, back to West Virginia,” Hahn said. “For 10 years now, I’ve been in Morgantown. And when I evaluate all I’ve done and where I’ve been, West Virginia has been the best place I’ve been and coached at.

“The people of West Virginia are just the friendliest I’ve ever been around. Also, working with Bob Huggins is the best situation I’ve ever had. I’m going to end up working with two Hall of Fame coaches. [Former Maryland coach] Gary Williams is already in and Huggins will be in. How many assistant coaches can say they’ve worked for two Hall of Famers?”

While Hahn was at Maryland, the Terrapins went to the NCAA tournament a school-record eight straight times, including the 2001 Final Four. At WVU, the Mountaineers won the 2010 Big East championship and earned nine NCAA tournament appearances, including the 2010 Final Four.

“There’s not a whole lot more I can do in this coaching business,” Hahn said. “I just decided, with my 1-year-old granddaughter Katie Ann and my daughter Ashley in Florida, I told my wife Kathi I wanted to spend some time with Katie Ann.”

Hahn said it’s been quite a ride — and that’s part of the reason he’s retiring.

“I’m not going to miss the travel,” Hahn said. “That’s the biggest thing. All the miles my body has gone through in cars, planes, trains

Still, it’s an emotional day for Hahn, a native of Mishawaka, Indiana.

“Basketball took me off the Indiana farm in 1971,” he said. “That basketball took me to the University of Maryland as a player. I had four great years there.”

He played on Maryland’s 1974-75 team that finished 24-5. It all started, though, in Charleston.

“I wasn’t good enough to keep playing, so I was blessed to land a job in Charleston with Rich Meckfessel at Morris Harvey College,” Hahn said. “I was the first full-time assistant Morris Harvey ever had. Part of my duty was to be a dorm daddy.”

Hahn went on to recruit and coached three NBA lottery picks: Walt Williams, Joe Smith and Steve Francis. He joked that Maryland won a national title the year he left.

“We went to the Final Four in 2001 and got beat by Duke in the semifinals,” Hahn said. “Then I went to La Salle and they won with Steve Blake and Juan Dixon. They sent me a national championship ring because they said I had a lot to do with it.

“I joked with Gary. I said, ‘You finally won a national championship. I guess I was the weak link.’ ”

Hahn laughed.

“So this might be the year for Huggy Bear.”

Contact Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827 or mitchvingle@wvgazettemail.com. Follow him on Twitter @MitchVingle.