The Texas Longhorns announced their finalized coaching staff yesterday. Here's a quick primer on the assistants that will be working under Shaka Smart next year.
Darrin Horn, Assistant Coach
Assistant Coach, Marquette (1999-2003)
Head Coach, Western Kentucky (2003-08)
Head Coach, South Carolina (2008-12)
Horn will likely serve as the primary X&O's assistant under Smart. Horn's coaching preferences--an uptempo offense and pressing defense--have been oft cited as aligning with Smart's philosophy. Personally, I'm more excited that Smart hired someone with previous head coaching experience. Always a plus in my book. Horn's foray into major college basketball at South Carolina didn't quite work out for him, though I still have a special dislike for Devan Downey after the Gamecocks knocked off newly minted #1 Kentucky in John Calipari's first year. Horn has credibility as a recruiter and landed a top 25 recruiting class in 2010 (which included current NFLer Bruce Ellington) that didn't quite work out. His return to coaching after a few years in a miked ESPN gig likely indicates a desire to become a head coach again, so I don't expect him to stick around too long.
Mike Morrell, Assistant Coach
Director of Basketball Operations, Clemson (2008-10)
Director of Basketball Operations, VCU (2011-13)
Assistant Coach, VCU (2013-15)
Morrell is a fast riser in the Shaka Smart coaching tree. Smart has done well in graduating his young, ambitious assistant coaches. Will Wade, currently just 32 years old, took the Chattanooga job in 2013 and is now back as the head man at VCU. Mike Rhoades left VCU to take the Rice job in 2014. Both Rhoades and Wade were on the 2010-11 Final Four team along with, who left after that season to take the head coaching job at Radford. Morrell worked with Smart when Smart was an assistant at Clemson, and evidently, Smart did and continues to think highly of Morrell. Morrell has chops as a recruiter, and he was credited as the point man for VCU's two top 100 signees this year, Tevin Mack and Kenny Williams. Both have requested a release from their LOI's, though it remains to be seen if Texas will pursue either player.
David Cason, Assistant Coach
Assistant Coach, TCU (2003-05)
Assistant Coach, Tulsa (2005-11)
Assistant Coach, Vanderbilt (2011-14)
Assistant Coach, VCU (2014-15)
Rumor floated that Smart may or may not have offered this position to former Texas assistant Rob Lanier, who ultimately followed Rick Barnes to Knoxville. Nevertheless, the final assistant coaching spot now belongs to Cason, who spent one year with Smart at VCU. Notably, Barnes considered Cason to fill an assistant spot after Rodney Terry left, a spot that ultimately went to Lanier. Of the Longhorns' three assistants, Cason has the most ties to the state of Texas, having heavily recruited the state for TCU and Tulsa as an assistant. His most notable success story was landing Jordan Clarkson from San Antonio Wagner in Tulsa's 2010 class. He also recruited cup of coffee NBAer Ben Uzoh (San Antonio Warren, Tulsa 2005) and future NBA draftee Damian Jones (Baton Rouge Scotlandville, Texas AAU, Vanderbilt 2013). Because of this history, Cason likely gets first crack at the Lone Star recruiting witch role on staff.
Daniel Roose, Strength & Conditioning Coach
Director of Sports Performance, VCU (2009-15)
Cult favorite strength coach Todd Wright seemingly floated the possibility of staying in Austin under Smart, but ultimately, Smart decided to stick with the devilish strength coach he knew. Roose has been associated with Smart for a great while, and Roose even has a DVD available for purchase named "The Havoc Strength & Conditioning Program." Running a constant full-court press requires a unique set of conditioning skills, so it is no surprise that Smart chose to stick with Roose.
Jai Lucas, Director of Operations
Special Assistant, Texas (2013-15)
Smart did well to keep Lucas, a native Texan, on staff. Lucas graduated from Bellaire in 2007 and Texas in 2011, playing professionally for a few years before starting his coaching career. Of course, his dad happens to be this excellent Peter Bean write-up for how the Jai Lucas hire buoyed Barnes). Not to be overlooked, Lucas fils has a world of coaching potential in his own right, and he reportedly campaigned to stay in Austin to work under Smart. A quick glance at the above Morrell paragraph shows the benefits for Lucas, who will get first crack at an assistant coaching role once Horn, Morrell, or Cason leaves for a head coaching gig., considered a basketball Yoda in the state (see