After several successful seasons as a high school coach and college assistant, Landon Boucher will be the next head coach at Westmont College (Submitted).
After his playing days came to an end, Landon Boucher didn’t know what his future in basketball was going to look like.
The former Keizer resident played at Salem Academy and Chemeketa Community College before finishing his career as a student-athlete at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif. in 2012.
“I remember being on the bus coming back from losing against Azusa (Pacific) in my last college game and thinking to myself ‘what am I going to do now’,” Boucher said.
It didn’t take him long to find out the answer.
The following day, Boucher received an offer to be the head coach at Providence School, a small Christian High School in Southern California.
Eight years later, Boucher is still coaching, only now it will be at the collegiate level, and at his alma mater.
After spending the last two years as an assistant, Boucher will take over as head coach of the Westmont men’s basketball program, stepping in for John Moore, who is retiring after 27 years at the helm.
“Coach Boucher is a big picture thinker who is not here just to win games but also to build on the tradition set before him,” Westmont athletic director Dave Odell said. “He brings a strong faith commitment and a real understanding of the college’s academic mission and our aspirations as an athletic program.”
After getting his first job at Providence, it didn’t take Boucher long to prove his abilities as a coach as he led the team to a school record for victories in a season.
The following year, Boucher went onto San Marcos High School to become the junior varsity head coach and varsity assistant. Boucher eventually was named the varsity head coaching in 2014.
It was an adjustment going from a small private school to one of the biggest public schools in California, but once again, Boucher found immediate success.
In his four years at San Marcos, Boucher had a record of 89-36, with his most successful year coming in his final season. Boucher led the team to their first ever California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section Championship in 2018 and was named the sectional coach of the year.
“We were really able to build up that freshman class that got there in 2014. It was an amazing experience with amazing kids. We achieved everything we set out to accomplish,” Boucher said.
Because he felt like he had reached the pinnacle at San Marcos, Boucher decided that he wanted to step down from his high school position to pursue a college gig.
He didn’t have to go far to land one.
Before the 2018-19 season, Boucher was hired by Moore, his former coach, and returned to Westmont as an assistant.
“I would not have hired Landon as an assistant if I did not think he had great character,” Moore said. “When I hired Landon, I felt like our program was going to be better because Landon was going to be a part of it.”
“He is very good at in-game adjustments and he is also a very good practice coach. He has a strong understanding of the game and communicates things in a way that is crisp, concise and to the point. I think players appreciate that.”
As an assistant, Boucher got the chance to a do a lot of traveling and recruiting. But what made his return to Westmont special for him was being back at a Christian school.
“I was really happy to be back in a Christ-centered environment. Yes, it’s my alma mater, but it’s about more than just basketball here and that is what I really like about it,” Boucher said.
During Boucher’s two years as an assistant, Westmont made back-to-back appearances in the NAIA National Tournament. They also finished 26-5 last season and won their first conference title since 2013.
Westmont’s expectations are just as high coming into the 2020-21 season as the Warriors return 10 players from last year’s squad — most of whom were recruited by Boucher.
“We had an amazing group last year and nearly all of them are coming back. I’m really excited to have my first year as a head coach be with this group. They are some special individuals who have already had a lot of success in their careers,” Boucher said.
At age 31, Boucher is one of the youngest college basketball coaches in the country, which he believes is an asset.
“I feel like being a young head coach helps me understand our guys from a relational standpoint,” Boucher said.
As a coach, Boucher prides himself on working one-on-one with each of his players, not only for the purpose of improving their respective games, but also to build a relationship of trust.
“I really value doing a lot of individual work with my guys because that was the kind of attention that I received a player,” Boucher said. “When I was with Coach (Abderhalden) at Chemeketa, he was so devoted to helping his guys get better. Our players are really hungry and motivated and I believe that being a coach that puts in the time on individual improvement will allow players to put their trust in our staff.”
At this point, it’s unknown if COVID-19 will affect the 2020-21 basketball season. If the season does take place as scheduled, Boucher is confident in the direction that his program is headed.
“Even though we’re living in wild times right now, I feel like the future of this team looks very bright,” Boucher said.