While driving through North Carolina on a recruiting trip, Keith Chesley took a moment to reflect on his fast-rising coaching career.

“I think this is our seventh move in seven years,” Chesley, a Clinton native, chuckled.

Chesley — a former Lawrence High and University of Maine at Augusta basketball standout — has ventured across the country during his career as a Division I assistant men’s basketball coach.

His latest stop is Virginia Military Institute, a Division I program in the Southern Conference. Chesley will be working as a lead recruiter for head coach Andrew Wilson. The two previously worked together at Georgia Southern and James Madison universities.

“I’m extremely excited,” said Chesley, who was hired at VMI in April. “Coach Wilson, one, is an unbelievable basketball coach. He’s a great basketball mind, he’s been doing it a long time. I really respect him as a professional and I think he’ll do an unbelievable job. To go along with that, he’s an even better person. He’s a family guy, takes care of his family, his immediate family and his staff and players.”

Chesley, who was inducted into the UMA Hall of Fame earlier this year, began as a graduate assistant at Florida State in 2016. He then became director of basketball operations at Stetson University, Georgia Southern and James Madison. Last year, he was an assistant under Jimmy Allen at Army West Point.


“Keith is a rising star in the business and I say that with all sincerity,” Wilson said. “I could tell that from the first conversation I ever had with Keith about five years ago. He’s a younger guy, but he came highly recommended to us when our staff was at Georgia Southern. Keith had been a graduate assistant for Leonard Hamilton at Florida State, a guy that I played for and have a very close relationship with, and I really trust.”

Chesley, Wilson and the rest of the VMI staff have been hard at work during the offseason. The Keydets finished 16-16 last season, including 9-9 in the Southern Conference. VMI enters the 2022-23 season with some holes to fill, as its top scorers entered the transfer portal. The departures — the program does return key players Louis Tang, Sam Wolfe and Sean Conway — gave the new VMI coaching staff an opportunity to hit the recruiting trail hard.

Keith Chesley Photo provided by Virginia Military Institute

“That gave us an opportunity to go out and recruit our own guys, and to leave a mark on the team early” Wilson said. “I was excited to go out and go recruit guys. We were under a tight timeline. I took the job April 11. The late signing period ended somewhere in the second week of May, so we had five or six weeks to go sign about half our roster. The issue was, we only had about five or six days left on the recruiting calendar. So we couldn’t do very much. We used those five days to go out, but most of our recruiting was being done on the phone. I told my staff, ‘we have to scour the country right now for players. We did, and we feel good about the guys we’ve brought in.”

Since April, the staff has signed four incoming freshman, including Tony Felder, Jr., a guard from Malden, Mass. who averaged 23 points and 9.4 assists per game during a standout career at Malden Catholic High School.

While the roster for the upcoming season may be set, Chesley and staff are hard at work on the recruiting trail. A typical day for Chesley includes making phone calls to potential recruits, as well as traveling to see players.

“The offseason, at times, is busier than in-season; it’s crazy,” Chesley said. “Right now, we’re trying to learn our team. The guys are all (at the school), we’re working out. We actually had practice at 6:45 (one) morning before we went on the road recruiting. We’ve had a great four or five weeks of workouts so far. We’re learning our team, just building relationships with the players, getting to know them, they’re getting to know us and how we want to play. We’re building that culture every day, with every interaction, of what we want to do.


“On top of that, it’s just a bunch of phone calls, trying to recruit,” Chesley said. “For our last spot on this year’s team and for next year’s team.”

Chesley added that he learned a lot last year while at West Point.

“I was just talking to somebody the other day, West Point was definitely the biggest year of growth that I’ve had so far in my professional development,” Chesley said. “You’re rubbing shoulder with generals in the Army, with colonels. Playing pick-up (basketball) with some really important people that are coaches, that are in the Army, in leadership positions. You just learn so much about so many things. I knew that going from (operations) to the floor at a place like that would prepare me for my job now.”

“I would love to stay around a while, I’ve moved around a bunch. It’s all hopefully preparing me to become a head coach one day, but that’s probably a long ways down the road.”

Chesley managed to come home for a short trip this spring, as he and his wife, former Richmond High School and UMA standout Jamie Plummer, were both were inducted into the UMA Hall of Fame. Both finished as the all-time leading scorers in their respective program, with Chesley scoring 2,119 points during his time with the Moose.

“Obviously, I’m not in the area anymore, which is tough sometimes, because those people have meant a lot to me and my growth,” Chesley said. “They’ve gotten me to where I am today. It was honestly nice to just get back and say thank you to those people. To be able to do it with Jamie was incredible and something I’ll always remember.”

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