KENNESAW, Ga. -- Jimmy Lallathin, who served as interim head coach for the final 16 games of the 2013-14 season, has been named head men's basketball coach, Kennesaw State director of athletics Vaughn Williams announced Thursday.

Lallathin, who began the just-concluded season as associate head coach, was elevated to interim head coach on Jan. 2 when head coach Lewis Preston took a leave of absence. He becomes the Owls' fifth head coach since the men's basketball program debuted in 1985.

"I am very enthusiastic about entrusting the men's basketball program to Jimmy Lallathin," Williams said. "He has been a part of Owls Basketball for the last three years and understands the culture that we are establishing here at Kennesaw State. He is the right fit at this time.

"I was impressed with the way he took over the team and conducted himself this past season under difficult circumstances. The team responded under his leadership, playing with a high level of energy and competiveness that led to exciting basketball. I am confident that under Jimmy's direction, the basketball program will continue to improve and become competitive in the Atlantic Sun Conference."

Kennesaw State recorded a 68-58 victory against South Carolina Upstate in Lallathin's second game on Jan. 6, and pulled out a dramatic 69-67 win against Northern Kentucky on Feb. 14.

"I am humbled and grateful that Vaughn Williams and president Dan Papp have afforded me this great opportunity to become the head coach at Kennesaw State University," Lallathin said. "KSU is a great institution with a tremendous faculty and student body, and deserves a men's basketball program that matches that level of excellence.

"It is going to take a great deal of hard work on my behalf, the coaching staff and student-athletes to bring the program to a level where Kennesaw State is competing for conference championships, but the support of the university community and resources are here for us to be a winning program. It is my goal to work as diligently as possible to build winners on the court, in the classroom and community, and to represent Kennesaw State University in a first-class manner."

Lallathin was hired as an assistant coach by Preston in June 2011 and was promoted to associate head coach on May 1, 2013.

Lallathin came to Kennesaw State after four years as a member of the coaching staff at Miami (Ohio). He joined the Redhawks program as an administrative assistant for the 2007-08 season before assuming the role of director of basketball operations (2008-10) and assistant coach (2010-11).

During Lallathin's one season as an assistant for head coach Charlie Coles, Miami (Ohio) posted a 16-17 record, including an 11-5 mark and second-place finish in the Mid-American Conference. The year's signature win was a 75-64 victory against NCAA tournament-bound Xavier.

Under Lallathin's tutelage, Redhawks junior forward Julian Mavunga earned 2010-11 All-MAC first-team honors, while senior Nick Winbush received All-MAC honorable mention.

Lallathin was a vital part of the day-to-day operations for Miami Basketball during his tenure, overseeing film exchange, film edits, study tables and team travel. He also was instrumental in initiating Miami's Elite Individual and Elite Team camps, and assisted with Sixth Man Club operations.