UTEP hires Lamont Smith as assistant men'sbasketball coach
EL PASO, Texas —
Changes have been happening in the UTEP men’s basketball program since Tim Floyd abruptly retired at the beginning of the 2017-18 season.
Rodney Terry was hired in March as Floyd’s replacement and, now, Rodney has named his top assistant. Lamont Smith joins the Miners after spending the last three seasons as the head coach at the University of San Diego. Both Terry and Smith come to El Paso from California-based schools, as Rodney led Fresno State to a Mountain West Conference championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament in 2016.
The Torero’s improved their record in each of Smith’s three seasons. In 2015-16, they finished with a record of 9-21. In 2016-17, they improved to 12-18, and in 2017-18, they finished with a winning record of 20-14, including a win over New Mexico State in Las Cruces. Last season, they were the only team to beat the Aggies in the Pan American Center.
“My family and I are ecstatic about the opportunity to join the UTEP basketball program. It’s like a dream to have the opportunity to be back in my home state of Texas, coaching at a university with such a rich tradition of success in college basketball,” Smith said. His family consists of himself, his wife Kim, and their two daughters, Payton ,12, and Olivia, 11.
Smith, who is originally from The Colony, Texas, has held a number of other assistant coaching jobs. He coached at Saint Louis from 1990-2001, Saint Mary’s from 2001-07, and Santa Clara from 2007-08. He also has PAC-12 experience, as he coached at Arizona State from 2008-12 and Washington from 2012-13. His last stop before San Diego was in Albuquerque, where he helped coach New Mexico under Craig Neal from 2013-15.
Though Smith is excited to come to El Paso, his hiring does not come without controversy. In February, he was arrested on domestic charges after a game in Oakland, and resigned from his position in March. Since then, the case has been dropped.
“After having numerous conversations with our administration and coach Smith, I came away convinced that he is the right person to help us build the type of basketball program that we want to build here at the University of Texas at El Paso,” Terry said.
Terry is confident that he made the right choice in the hiring process and that Smith is apologetic for his actions in February.
“After spending a lot of time understanding the legal matter that recently occurred with coach Smith, I learned that he is a quality individual who is extremely remorseful for any harm or pain he might have caused to those associated with the legal matter. More importantly, he was never charged of any crime and he conducted himself with the utmost class throughout the investigation in the legal matter,” Terry said.
Perhaps Smith’s experiences in beating New Mexico State while at San Diego and New Mexico can help Terry and the Miners figure out a way to beat their rivals. The Miners have lost nine of their last 10 games against the Aggies, dating back to the 2013-14 season.