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'I love this place': Shantay Legans will miss EWU as he takes on head coaching job at Portland

"EWU is a special place, it will always have a special place in my heart and I'm going to miss this place dearly," Legans said in a one-on-one interview with KREM.

CHENEY, Wash. — The Eastern Washington Eagles are in the market for a new head coach of their men's basketball team.

Coach Shantay Legans announced on Twitter on Monday that he has taken a job with the University of Portland.

He sat down on Tuesday for a one on one interview with KREM 2's Karthik Venkataraman.  He said telling his team he was leaving was one of the hardest things he's had to do.

"I love this place man," Legans said. "This was my first job. I had two children here, I met my wife here. It's the best place I've ever lived in my life. Eastern is a special place, it will always have a special place in my heart and I'm going to miss this place dearly. This is a tough decision, but we're leaving Eastern Washington a better place than when I got here."

Legans has had significant success at Eastern ever since he took the head coaching job. This year, he led the team to the NCAA Tournament and went toe to toe with Kansas. Last year, he won the Big Sky's regular season title.

In the two previous years, he led the team to the Big Sky's Tournament Championship game. This season was Legans's fourth at the helm for Eastern.

He hopes to take that success to his next stop.

"I want to be the guy on the hill that's climbing and trying to get to the top," he said.

He said he received other offers, but he sees Portland as a good fit for recruitment and building something special.

As he joins the Pilots, he will join the West Coast Conference. That's Gonzaga's conference as well. That also means it won't be long before he returns back to the Spokane metro area.

He's ready for the task to take on the Bulldogs every year in conference play.

"Gonzaga is one of the top teams in the country,"  Legans said. "They're up there with the big dogs. That's one of the best programs in the country and it has been for 10 years. I don't know how long you have to be there to claim that, but they've been better for some of these so called blue bloods for a decade now. I want to be able to go up against those guys and challenge them."

As he takes on his new journey, he said Eastern will always be special to him. Legans considers the people he was around at the program a family.