After spending much of the past six weeks in search of an assistant coach to replace Mike Morrell, who departed for the head coaching job UNC Asheville on April 11, Shaka Smart and the Texas Longhorns have officially hired former Iowa State assistant Neill Berry, the school announced on Thursday.
“I’m extremely excited about Neill joining our staff. It’s been about six weeks since Mike got the job at UNC Asheville. I wanted to make sure I did my homework and considered a variety of candidates,” Smart said in a statement. “I did a ton of research on many different guys, trying to figure out who would be the best fit for our program. I kept coming back to the feeling that Neill is the best fit for our staff and our team, and he is a guy who can come in here and hit the ground running in all facets of the job.”
“The fact that Neill has experience at this level and in this league is a real positive,” Smart added. “He’s recruited quite a few guys who have turned out to be much better players than the so-called experts thought they would be. Developing young men is clearly a strength of Neill’s, which is a top priority in our program as well.”
Berry spent the previous two seasons serving as an assistant coach on Steve Prohm’s staff at Iowa State. He was with the Cyclones program for three years, with the first being as a special assistant to the head coach.
The 36-year-old Berry comes equipped with 13 years of Division I experience in various capacities. Much of that experience came as an assistant to current Texas assistant coach Darrin Horn. Berry was one of Horn’s interns at Western Kentucky from 2005-07, and was promoted to assistant coach for the 2007-08 season. He then followed Horn to South Carolina, where he was hired as the director of player development for the 2008-09 season, and ultimately, a full-time assistant coach between 2009-12.
Berry also brings competency as a recruiter. While at Iowa State, he was in charge of recruiting the state of Minnesota, and served as the lead recruiter for Lindell Wigginton, a former Oak Hill Academy teammate of Matt Coleman who averaged 16.7 points per game as a freshman last season.
“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to join Coach Smart’s staff at Texas,” Berry said. “I have always had tremendous respect for Coach Smart from afar, and I am excited about the opportunity to learn from him and help out in any way possible moving forward. I have loved my time working for Coach Prohm at Iowa State and have learned so much from him, both on and off the floor. He has been an unbelievable mentor in my life. It was going to take a special opportunity to leave Iowa State, and I believe Texas is this opportunity. It is an amazing university in a great location with tremendous tradition and support. My family and I are very excited to get to Austin.”