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Texas assistant Mike Morrell named the UNC-Asheville head coach

Shaka Smart now has to replace his most trusted assistant.

Mike Morrell
Longhorn Network screenshot

For the second straight year, Texas Longhorns head coach Shaka Smart is replacing one of his assistant coaches, but this time it’s because Mike Morrell is leaving to become the head coach of the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs.

The Austin American-Statesman broke the news shortly before UNC-Asheville officially announced Morrell as the school’s next head coach.

“We are thrilled to officially announce that we have hired Mike Morrell as our head men’s basketball coach,” UNC Asheville Director of Athletics Janet R. Cone said. “His experiences, especially at Texas and VCU, show that he knows how to win at a high level, that he is a relentless recruiter and that he challenges his student-athletes to reach their full potential while always pushing them to become the best version of themselves. He has worked alongside some of the top minds in college basketball and he comes very highly recommended. Bulldog fans, please join us in welcoming Mike back to the area he calls home.”

The 35-year-old former Texas assistant first met Smart while working as a graduate assistant for Oliver Purnell at Clemson, then joined Smart’s staff at VCU after a year as an assistant at Charleston Southern before following him to Texas.

Known as a strong recruiter, Morrell also showed a willingness to alter his own career trajectory to help the basketball program — when Jai Lucas was receiving interest from TCU to become an assistant coach, Morrell gave up his seat on the bench to allow Lucas to advance his own career. Morrell spent a year as the director of program development.

When Texas declined to renew David Cason’s contract after last season, Morrell returned to his role as an assistant coach.