coaching staff

Year-By-Year Coaching Win/Loss Records

Head Coach
Ralph Turner
Office Phone: 731-661-5286

Turner, a 1979 graduate of David Lipscomb University, is now in his 12th season as the head coach of the Bulldogs. Coach Turner has led the Bulldogs to seven NAIA National Tournaments in his 11 years as head coach. Turner’s career coaching record at Union University is 262-116. Turner has led the Union Bulldogs to four TranSouth Regular Season and Tournament Championships (1998, 1999, 2002, 2005) in his 11 years as head coach.

Turner began his coaching career at the junior high and high school level in Georgia and Tennessee before moving to the collegiate level at Oklahoma Christian University. Returning to his Alma Mater, Turner served as an assistant coach at Lipscomb for nine years, winning an NAIA National Championship in 1986. Then in 1994, Turner accepted his first college head coaching position at Union University. In his career, he has coached college basketball’s all-time leading scorer, all-time assists leader, all-time steals leader, and all-time leading shot blocker. He has coached 26 NAIA All-Americans in his career and has had 13 players to take their talents to the professional level.

In addition to his coaching duties at Union University, has served on the USA Basketball Selection Committee. This committee selects players to represent the United States in the World Games, Pan-Am Games, and other International events. Turner also takes his knowledge of basketball to the national level by serving on the NAIA All-American Committee and the NAIA Championship Tournament Committee that organizes the men’s national basketball tournament in Kansas City, Missouri. He also has served as the NAIA National Rater for the TranSouth Conference.

Under the guidance of Turner, summer basketball camps at Union University have continued to grow. Through Turner’s hard work and dedication, Union averages over 1,500 boys and girls during the camps.

Turner’s goal for the men’s basketball program is more than concentrating on the score of a game. His desire is to not only see that his players be a part of the best teams that Union has ever had, but for those individuals to be the best people Union has ever had.

He and wife, Sherrie, have two daughters, Andrea, a sophomore at Union, and Allison, a senior at Jackson Christian School.

Assistant Coach
David Niven
Office Phone: 731-661-5132

David Niven, a 1996 graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University, begins his ninth season as an assistant coach for the Bulldogs after spending the 1996-97 season as an assistant coach at Oklahoma Baptist. In his first two seasons at Union, Niven served as a volunteer assistant coach, and then became full-time in 1999.

During his time at Union, Niven has assumed the responsibility of coordinating the recruiting efforts for the Bulldogs. He has recruited and signed numerous All-Americans, as well as, the 2002 NAIA Player of the Year, but the statistic he is most proud of is the 24 players that have graduated during his time as their academic advisor.

Niven spent his playing career at OBU and finished with a four-year career record 121-24. In those four years, he played on teams that were ranked No. 1 in the NAIA, advanced to the NAIA National Championship game, and two Final Fours. He also became the first player to help lead the Bison to four consecutive national tournaments. While at OBU in 1997, as assistant coach for the Bison, Niven received his Master of Education degree from East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. He received valuable coaching experience as the Bison went 36-4 and made it to the 1997 NAIA National Championship Finals.

Niven is married to the former Mandy Beth Wells of Sallisaw, Oklahoma.

Graduate Assistant
Chima Abakwue

Chima Abakwue joins the Union coaching staff this season as he works toward his masters degree and teaching licenses. Abakwue, of Cedar Hill, Texas, was a four-year starter for the Bulldogs from 2001-04.

Since graduating from Union, Abakwue has spent some time with the Harlem Ambassadors and also with the World Basketball Association’s Cleveland Magic.

While at Union, Abakwue set numerous three-point records. He set the record for three pointers made in a season (134), three-pointers made in a game (10), and three pointers made in a career (401). Over his four years at Union, Abakwue scored 1,834 points and shot an amazing .405 (401-991) from behind the arc. He led the TranSouth Conference in three pointers made in three of the four seasons he play for Union.

Abakwue earned several honors as well. He was named to the TranSouth All-Conference team in 2002 and 2004, and the TranSouth All-Freshman team in 2001. As a senior, Abakwue was named an NAIA All-American in 2004.

In high school at Grace Prep Academy, Abakwue was the Dallas area leading scorer and the private school player of the year. He averaged 26 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals per game. Abakwue was named All-District and All-State his senior year.


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