LOGAN, Utah -
Utah State University Vice President and Director of Athletics John Hartwell announced Monday that Craig Smith has been named the school’s 19th head coach in 113 seasons of Aggie basketball.
A press conference to formally introduce Smith will be held in the Wayne Estes Center, which is located on the Utah State campus, on Tuesday, March 27, at 11 a.m. The event is open to the public and media, and free parking will be available in the lots just north of the Estes Center.
"Our family and I are pumped to join Utah State University and the community of Logan," said Smith. "Utah State men's basketball has tremendous leadership from the top in President (Noelle) Cockett, athletic director John Hartwell, and all the way down. It was easy to see and feel that our visions were aligned when it comes to running a successful basketball program.
"Utah State has a rich tradition of excellence with tremendous fan support. The Dee Glen Smith Spectrum is one of the best home-court atmospheres in the country and I am amped to see 'The HURD' in full force. We are looking forward to making USU hoops a force in the Mountain West."
In all, Smith has 22 years of collegiate coaching experience, including seven years as a head coach, and has been to postseason play 10 times during his career, while winning three regular season and two postseason conference championships. As a head coach, Smith has been named conference Coach of the Year three times (2006, 2007, 2017) in addition to receiving the NAIA II National Coach of the Year Award in 2007 and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District 12 Coach of the Year Award in 2017.
Smith also has experience coaching in the Mountain West as he spent five years as an assistant at Colorado State from 2008 to 2012.
"When we started this process two weeks ago we identified several characteristics we wanted in our next head coach – high energy, high character, a proven recruiter and proven player development, to name a few," said Hartwell. "We believe we have not only checked all the boxes, but that we have hit a home run with the hiring of Craig Smith. Craig has been a winner at every level. Craig, his wife Darcy, and their family, will be tremendous assets to Utah State University and Cache Valley. We look forward to Craig leading our team to the high levels of success that Aggie basketball has experienced in our storied history."
Smith comes to Utah State after spending the past four years as the head coach at the University of South Dakota, where he led the Coyotes to a 79-55 (.590) record, including a 38-26 (.594) mark in the Summit League. In his last two seasons at USD, he led the program to back-to-back postseason appearances (NIT, CBI) and a conference championship (2017), as the Coyotes produced a 48-21 (.696) record, including a 23-7 (.767) mark in league play.
During this past season at South Dakota, Smith led the Coyotes to a 26-9 record, which is the second-most wins in school history, and its best record in their 10 years at the Division I level. USD also finished second in its conference during the 2017-18 campaign with an 11-3 mark and advanced to the championship game of the Summit League Tournament, followed by an appearance in the College Basketball Invitational, which was its second-straight postseason appearance. In all, USD did not lose back-to-back games once during the 2017-18 regular season.
Statistically, South Dakota led the Summit League and ranked 12th in the nation in scoring margin (+12.2 points per game) during the 2017-18 season, while also ranking first in the conference and 32nd nationally in field goal percentage defense (.409), and first in the conference and 36th in the nation in field goal percentage offense (.476). USD also ranked third in the Summit League and 35th in the nation in scoring offense (80.9 points per game) during the 2017-18 campaign, second in the conference and 30th in the nation in turnovers (11.1 per game), and second in the league and 20th nationally in turnover margin (+3.2 per game). The Coyotes also led the league and ranked 65th nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.329) last season and were first in the conference in scoring defense (68.7 points per game), while also ranking second in the conference in both free throws made (555) and attempted (740).
Following the 2016-17 season, Smith was named the Summit League and NABC District 12 Coach of the Year as he led South Dakota to a 22-12 record, including a 12-4 mark in league play, to win its second-ever Division I conference championship. The Coyotes concluded the season by playing in the National Invitation Tournament.
During his four years as the head coach at South Dakota, Smith coached nine players who earned a total of 11 Summit League honors, including Matt Mooney, who was a two-time first-team all-league honoree and a two-time NABC All-District 12 team member.
Prior to being the head coach at South Dakota, Smith spent two seasons as an assistant at Nebraska (2013-14) and five seasons as an assistant at Colorado State (2008-12), helping the Cornhuskers to the 2014 NCAA Tournament and the Rams to the 2012 NCAA Tournament. While at CSU, Smith also helped the Rams advance to the 2010 CBI Tournament and the 2011 NIT.
Smith's other head coaching stint was at Mayville State University in North Dakota, where he compiled a 72-29 record in three seasons and three-straight NAIA II National Tournament appearances from 2005-07. The Comets were 1-25 the season before Smith’s arrival and competed in the NAIA National Championship game in their third season under Smith.
After winning 17 games in his first season at Mayville State, the Comets set a school record for victories with 28 during the 2005-06 campaign, while winning the Dakota Athletic Conference (DAC) regular season and tournament championships. Mayville State advanced to the national quarterfinals before falling to the eventual national champions.
In 2007, Smith was named the NAIA II National Coach of the Year when the Comets defended their regular season and tournament titles and advanced to the National Championship game. It marked the first time any men’s basketball team from North Dakota had ever played for a national title. Smith also earned DAC Coach of the Year honors in both 2006 and 2007.
Smith began his coaching career as an assistant at Mayville State during the 1996-97 season as he helped the Comets advance to the NAIA II Tournament. He then spent the 1997-98 season as a graduate assistant at Northern State in South Dakota, helping the Wolves to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division II Tournament. He then spent three seasons as an assistant at Minot State in North Dakota, followed by three more seasons as an assistant at North Dakota State, where he began his affiliation with current Nebraska head coach Tim Miles. Following his three years as head coach at Mayville State, Smith worked under Miles at both Colorado State and Nebraska before becoming the head coach at South Dakota.
Smith is a Stephen, Minn., native and a 1996 graduate of the University of North Dakota, where he earned his bachelor's degree in secondary education. He then earned his master’s degree in teaching and learning from Northern State, where he served as a graduate assistant for the 1997-98 season. The Wolves reached their first-ever Elite Eight that season.
Smith and his wife, Darcy, have three sons: Landon, Brady and Carson, along with a daughter, Lauren.
Fans can now place a deposit on their 2018-19 Men’s Basketball Season Tickets. For just $25 down, per ticket, fans can secure their seats for the 2018-19 season. Fans who place a deposit prior to Friday, April 13, will receive an exclusive coach Craig Smith autographed item. To make your season ticket deposit go to http://bit.ly/MBBTix2018
CRAIG SMITH FILE
Coaching History (22 Years)
2019 - Utah State – Head Coach
2015-18 - South Dakota – Head Coach
2013-14 - Nebraska – Assistant Coach
2008-12 - Colorado State – Assistant Coach
2005-07 - Mayville State – Head Coach
2002-04 - North Dakota State – Assistant Coach
1999-01 - Minot State – Assistant Coach
1998 - Northern State – Graduate Assistant
1997 - Mayville State – Assistant Coach
Postseason Appearances (10)
NCAA Tournaments (2): Nebraska - 2014; Colorado State - 2012
NIT Tournaments (2): South Dakota - 2017; Colorado State - 2011
CBI Tournaments (2): South Dakota - 2018; Colorado State - 2010
NCAA Division II Tournaments (1): Northern State - 1998
NAIA II Tournaments (3): Mayville State - 2007, 2006, 1997
Conference Championships (3): South Dakota - Summit - 2017; Mayville State - Dakota Athletic - 2006, 2007
Conference Tournament Championships (2): Mayville State - Dakota Athletic - 2006, 2007
Coach of the Year Honors (5)
NAIA II (1): Mayville State, 2007
NABC District 12 (1): South Dakota, 2017
Summit League (1): South Dakota, 2017
Dakota Athletic Conference (2): Mayville State, 2007, 2006
1996 - North Dakota – Bachelor's in Secondary Education
1998 - Northern State – Master's in Teaching and Learning
Wife, Darcy; Sons - Landon, Brady, Carson; Daughter - Lauren.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT CRAIG SMITH
Tim Miles, Nebraska Head Men's Basketball Coach:
"Craig Smith has been a colleague and friend of mine for 23 years and he is a terrific hire for Utah State. Craig is an exceptional coach and a better man, and I believe he will take Utah State basketball to the top of the Mountain West and keep them there. Craig's energy and enthusiasm will connect with the campus, the community, and the state of Utah in a way that will make Aggie basketball electric."
Gene Taylor, Kansas State Athletics Director:
"I have known Craig for a number of years and have watched him grow into a great basketball coach. Not only is he an excellent coach, but he is also a tremendous person that runs basketball programs with integrity and class."
Brad Underwood, Illinois Head Men's Basketball Coach:
"Craig is one of the top young coaches in the country! He has put South Dakota basketball on the map with his tremendous recruiting and top-flight coaching ability. His teams are always so well prepared. He does a terrific job of getting his guys to play very hard and sound basketball, and they don't beat themselves."
Colton Iverson, Former Basketball Player at Colorado State and NBA Draft Pick:
"Coach Smith is an incredible coach. I have never been coached by anyone in my whole life who was as determined to get the most and best out of me as an individual and the team as a whole. I have never been with a coach like him that works non-stop to make the most of every day. His determination is contagious and you can see how success follows him everywhere he goes. He is a motivator that will do whatever it takes to get the best out of each and every player the right way."
Pierce Hornung, Former Basketball Player at Colorado State:
"Utah State hired a tremendous basketball coach and an even better person. Craig Smith does an unbelievable job creating a winning culture, as well as developing talent. Craig is influential on and off the court, and he brings out the best in each of his players."
Archie Weatherspoon IV, Former NAIA All-American at Mayville State:
"Coach Smith is a true potential-seeker and talent-developer. He saw my growth before I did, and when I finally saw it, he was there to affirm it and raise the bar even higher. The passion and excitement that coach Smith brings to the game is infectious for all those around him. He helps good players become great players, and he helps young adults become great men. If you want fire, energy and passion from your students, fans and community, and most importantly if you want to win, coach Smith is the person to believe in, because he will believe in you."
Brandon Ubel, Former Basketball Player at Nebraska:
"In my four years at Nebraska I had 11 different assistant coaches and coach Smith was easily the one that I learned the most from, both on and off the court. What stands out about him as a coach and person is his understanding that every little detail is important and should be emphasized. He was able to express this in individual workouts, practices, and in scouting to make me a better player, and more importantly, to help our team exceed expectations. I truly believe that, as a team, we won games simply because of the scouts that coach Smith put together and communicated effectively and efficiently with us. As someone who wants to get into coaching, coach Smith is the one who I would most try to emulate with his enthusiasm and energy, but also how he coaches, communicates, and prepares to help push his team over the top."
Benny Parker, Former Basketball Player at Nebraska:
"Coach Smith is always full of energy and brings high intensity to practice every day. You never catch him with low energy. He pushes you in workouts and practices to get the best out of you. He is just a great all-around coach."
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