A veteran of more than 40 years of coaching at all levels of basketball, Lenny Carlson is in his eighth year serving on the Augusta University coaching staff. He returned in 2013-14 as a valuable aid to head coach Dip Metress and has played a prominent role in the development of the Jaguars as they continue to carry national recognition.
Carlson was inducted into New England Basketball Hall of Fame on June 22, 2013 in Worcester, Mass. He was part of an induction class that included former UMass Head Men’s Basketball Coach John Calipari and renowned novelist, Harlan Coben, who was an outstanding player at Amherst.
A decorated athlete at all levels, Carlson graduated from North High School in Worcester, Mass., in 1958 and played on two Inter High School championship teams. He then attended the University of Connecticut and graduated in 1962 after leading the Huskies in scoring as a junior and senior. A team captain, Carlson was an All-Yankee Conference, All-New England and All-America selection.
As a graduate student at UConn, Carlson coached the Huskies’ freshman team and, following Hugh Greer’s sudden death, became the interim varsity assistant coach of the 1963 UConn squad that won the Yankee Conference and advanced to the NCAA Regional. Years later, Carlson was a nominee to the ballot of the UConn All-Century Team. He also played professionally for the Hartford franchise in the first NEBA (New England Basketball Association), leading them to a championship.
As a member of the military, Carlson was named to two consecutive All-Army teams and participated in the National AAU Tournament and represented the United States in international competition. He spent the next three seasons playing professionally for the Antwerp, Belgium franchise in the European Basketball League.
Following his fifth knee surgery, Carlson retired from playing and began his 40-plus year association with the Jaguar basketball program in 1968 when he was hired by former Augusta College Head Coach and Athletic Director Marvin Vanover. He served as Vanover’s right-hand man for more than a decade, retiring in 1982 to enter into private business.
Carlson and Vanover were credited with being the first coaches from a predominately white university to recruit African-Americans and later became the first program to recruit foreign-born players and to produce two players from the same team drafted into the NBA.
During the 1975-76 season, Carlson took a leave of absence from ASU to coach professionally in Belgium. His Racing Antwerp squad posted a 41-15 record in the European Basketball Association and he was named the league’s Coach of the Year. Carlson also enjoyed an assistant coaching tenure at Indiana State University before retiring in 2000.
In 2006, Carlson came out of retirement to become Customer Retention Manager for VWR International while also re-joining Jaguar coaching staff under Metress and helping lead ASU to three consecutive Elite Eight appearances in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Carlson has played or coached in over 1,300 college and professional games and appeared in 11 postseason tournaments at the NCAA Division I and Division II and NAIA levels during his time at ASU, Connecticut and Indiana State.
Carlson and his wife Debbie, who reside in Augusta and Park City, Utah, and have three children and four grandchildren.