Less than a week after Shaka Smart's official introduction as the Texas Longhorns basketball head coach, the school announced his assistant coaches.
The major news is that former special assistant Jai Lucas will remain with the program in the role of Men's Basketball Director of Operations. Since Smart's assistants have been finding head coaching roles at a high rate in the last few years, Lucas has a chance to move onto Smart's bench eventually.
"I had the opportunity to work with Jai as an assistant coach at Florida, and I was really impressed by his understanding of the game and ability to relate to his teammates at that time," Smart said. "Fast forward seven-plus years, I've been incredibly impressed with him in the short time since I arrived here. Everyone I have talked to, including our players, has spoken glowingly about him and his impact on this program. Jai played here and is from the state of Texas, and he has terrific relationships around Texas. Most importantly, he has phenomenal potential in this profession."
Another piece of the support staff is also in place, as strength and conditioning coach Daniel Roose is now listed in the Texas directory.
The other three announcements were much less surprising -- reports emerged throughout the week that former South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn and former VCU assistants Mike Morell and David Cason would join the staff.
"Darrin has an impressive playing and coaching background," Smart said. "He has extensive experience as a head coach, including taking Western Kentucky to the 'Sweet 16.' I've always been impressed by Darrin's intensity as a coach and teacher of the game."
Horn and Smart have a relationship that dates back several years, though they haven't ever coached on the same staff together. The major tie that they do have is a shared style of play -- like Smart, Horn's teams are known for playing an exciting style of basketball featuring an up-tempo attack with pressuring defenses and high-octane offenses. Like Smart's VCU teams, Horn's squads were also known for the high-level conditioning required by his preferred strategy.
The two coaches also share an appreciation for academics -- all of Horn's players at Western Kentucky and South Carolina who completed their eligibility earned their degrees.
After a successful stint at Western Kentucky that saw Horn win nearly 70% of his games and take the Hilltoppers to the Sweet Sixteen in 2008, he left for South Carolina and led the team to one of its most successful conference season since joining the SEC, then eventually inked a top-20 recruiting class in 2010.
However, he couldn't repeat his 2008-09 success and was fired in 2012 after missing the postseason for three straight years and compiling a 60-63 record in Columbia. Horn last worked as a television analyst and part-time radio host in his hometown of Lexington.
"Mike is a terrific worker," Smart said. "He spends an incredible amount of time with players, on and off the court, and is a relentless recruiter. Mike and I have been together for a long time and share a lot of the same ideals."
Morrell quickly cleaned out his desk last Thursday night, when he was spotted leaving the Siegel Center not long after Smart's team meeting to announce his attentions of taking the Texas job. Morrell has ties to Smart dating back to their days at Clemson under Oliver Purnell, where he was the director of basketball operations. Two years in the same position at VCU helped Morrell land a spot as one of Smart's assistants in 2013.
"David did a terrific job for us this past year at VCU," Smart said. "He's been a part of some very successful coaching staffs and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our program."
A candidate for the VMI head coaching position before coming to Austin, Cason joined Smart's staff at VCU a year ago after spending three seasons with Kevin Stallings at Vanderbilt, a stretch during which the Commodores won the SEC Tournament in 2012 for the first time since 1952 and then advanced to the third round.
Known as a strong recruiter, Cason was responsible for recruiting current Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson to Tulsa and recruited the state well while with the Golden Hurricane.