Mark Bunker named head men’s basketball coach at Western New Mexico University after bringing consistent success to Scottsdale Community College

Scottsdale Men appeared in NJCAA DII National Tournament the last two seasons, team nationally ranked since 2018


NEVN Photography

Farewell Coach Bunker! You will be missed.

Preston Grace and Ole Olafson

The goal of any community college program is to prepare its students and athletes to move onto a four-year university.

I suppose the same can be said of its staff and faculty as well.

After playing basketball for Scottsdale as a student, serving as an assistant coach for three seasons and head coach for nine years, Mark Bunker will be taking over coaching responsibilities at Western New Mexico University.

Located in Silver City, N.M., WNMU is a Division II school, playing in the Lone Star Conference.

Before leaving for “The Land of Enchantment”, Bunker spoke to Northeast Valley News about his time at Scottsdale and what he hopes to accomplish at his new school.

“When I first got here, Scottsdale (Community College) wasn’t known to be a basketball powerhouse. We had great volleyball, baseball programs and other great programs on campus that were firing on all cylinders, and had been for a while,” Bunker said. “Men’s basketball just had never broken through that threshold. They had a couple of good seasons here and there, but no consistency. I think what I brought is consistency.”

Bunker admitted to making mistakes.

“I think in the first couple years, I was young, I was inexperienced, and also…a little arrogant,” Bunker said. “ I tried to bring in student athletes that had been kicked off of other programs, that flunked out of other schools, and that had issues in other junior college programs, and I had an arrogance about me that thought they could work out for me. And that was a mistake.”

But, he was able to learn from those failures and use the experience to become a successful coach.

“This allowed me to figure out that there’s no fast pass to success,” Bunker said. “I have to bring in the right guys, the right staff, and all of the things around you to give yourself a chance. That to me is the only way that you can have success… Moving guys on to the four-year  level is always the most important thing to me, and several years in a row, we’ve moved our entire roster of sophomores to the four-year level, and that was very special to me.”

Like he did for Scottsdale, Bunker hopes to bring consistency to the Western New Mexico Men’s Basketball program. He feels his familiarity with players in the region and the additional resources available at WNMU will help him accomplish that goal.

“Western New Mexico is in a very similar situation as SCC was when I first got here. They haven’t had a lot of consistent success, and I’m hoping that I can recreate a lot of the things we did here, at that four-year level,” Bunker said.  “The other thing is, it’s the closest NCAA Division II school to Arizona, so being able to continue to recruit the same area I’m familiar with, and tap into the resources that I’m the most familiar with, and continue to grow that program to a high level… with the dorms, and the meal plans and the full scholarships.  The access with all of that should open more doors for even higher caliber student athletes.”

With only a few weeks to prepare for the season, Bunker will certainly have his hands full upon arriving in Silver City.  He told NEVN that communication and recruitment will  be his initial top priorities.

“When I first get out there, it’s getting in contact with their current players, and getting in contact with their families. They probably didn’t come there to play for me, they came to play there for their previous coach,” Bunker said. “I got to get in contact with recruits, other coaches, and start building a roster… The first priority is making sure that the current student athletes are ready to go, and then also building and bringing in guys immediately, and having them ready to go by August.”

Before leaving, Bunker gave thanks to SCC and those who supported him during his tenure.

“I’ve enjoyed my time here so much. Scottsdale gave me my first opportunity to play in college, and also coach in college. They’ve allowed me to make mistakes and grow.  They’ve allowed me to make this program my own, and that’s what’s going to be so special to me,” Bunker said.  “The athletic director, Michael McNally, and Dr. Young has been behind me 24/7 for my entire career.  All of the different campus presidents whether it was Jan Gehler, or Chris Haines, or even now, Dr. Leshinskie, they’ve been very supportive, so I can’t thank them enough for allowing me to work here, and build my career here and ultimately, excel my career in the coaching field—so I’m very thankful for Scottsdale.”