A standout for the Seahawks from 2011-16, Ponder returned to UNCW last season to serve on Siddle’s staff and helped the Seahawk head coach with all facets of the program, including travel, practice planning, arranging community service and other duties. He replaces Monty Sanders, who stepped down recently to pursue other interests.
“Craig has been a huge asset to our initial stages of rebuilding the program,” said Siddle. “He has proven himself to be an extremely hard worker and well-connected to our student-athletes. Having him as a coach on the floor and in the recruiting position will do nothing but add to our program in the years to come.”
Ponder, who owns UNCW’s record for games played in men’s basketball with 130 appearances, returned to the coast in the summer of 2020 after serving as a graduate manager on Kevin Keatts’ staff at NC State. He also worked as a graduate assistant coach at Arkansas State for one year after retiring from professional basketball during a short stint overseas in England.
An outstanding guard at Bluefield High School and Hargrave Military Academy, Ponder arrived at UNCW in the fall of 2011 and played in just four games during his freshman campaign before a foot injury cut short his rookie season. After redshirting, he helped the program improve each season and notch a pair of postseason berths.
As a junior in 2014-15, Ponder was the only player to start all 32 games and ranked third in scoring (11.6) and second in assists (2.6 apg). He paced the squad with 46 three-pointers, led the team in scoring seven times and reached double figures in 22 contests. The Seahawks picked up their first postseason berth in nine years with an invitation to the play in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
The Seahawks then captured their fifth Colonial Athletic Association championship in Ponder’s senior year in 2015-16. He opened 24 of 33 games and ranked third on the team in scoring (11.4), while contributing 76 assists. The Seahawks went a sparkling 25-8 overall and 17-4 in the CAA en route to the NCAA Tournament.
Ponder’s name remains prominent in UNCW’s record books. In addition to being the school’s all-time leader in appearances, he ranks 14th in scoring (1,160), 42nd in rebounding (338), 15th in steals (15) and 16th in assists (257).
“I’m extremely grateful and honored to be stepping into this new role,” said Ponder. “This is an unbelievable opportunity to help rebuild a championship tradition at a place that I call home.
“I can’t say express enough how thankful I am to Coach Siddle and the university for affording me this opportunity, and I look forward to serving our student-athletes, Coach Siddle, and the university relentlessly.”
Ponder earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Communication Studies from UNCW in 2016.