Theus spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Louisville under head coach Rick Pitino. While at Louisville, Theus was an interregnal part of the Cardinals' run to the Final Four, the 2005 Conference USA regular season and tournament titles while helping lead the program to back-to-back 20-win seasons and a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. This past weekend, Theus helped guide Louisville back to the Final Four for the first time since their national title run in 1986.
Now it is time for Theus to take the next step and he couldn't be happier about leading the Aggies.
"When you talk about what attracted me to New Mexico State basketball, I think you can sell the future of the program," Theus said. "Everyone from President Martin, to Dr. Boston to the faculty are all on the same page and everyone wants to get back to where Aggie basketball was in the early 1990's. There are so many things I like about New Mexico State, including the move to the WAC. That makes this an extremely solid head coaching job."
Theus believes that his nearly three decades in and around the game of basketball will help him adjust to his new position.
"I have 30 years of basketball experiences. A lot of those years as a player, especially on the collegiate level," Theus said. "My years of playing in the NBA and being an analyst are all great experiences that have helped me in my coaching career. I have worked and talked with some of the best minds in basketball. My two years at Louisville, coaching under Rick Pitino, caps off a very long career of learning the game of basketball."
"I think coach Pitino has a blue print for success when it comes to the game of basketball, Theus said. "He's coached for 31 years, has gone to several Final Fours and has been a head coach since he was 22 years old. There is nothing about his program that you couldn't take and implement into another program and not have a blue print for success. His work ethic is second to none and I don't know anybody that works harder than coach Pitino."
"Reggie will be one of the dynamic coaches in the game. He has the total package," Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said. "He's got great charisma, is a terrific teacher and he has two of the most important things it takes to be a head coach: one, he's very dedicated; and two, he can bring in great players. Those two things will make New Mexico State a contender in the WAC within a couple of years."
Along with being an excellent teacher on the practice floor, Theus was also Louisville's top recruiter, helping the Cardinals sign a handful of the nation's top high school players over the past two seasons.
A native of Los Angeles, Calif., and an Inglewood High School graduate, Theus was able to utilize a vast network of connections throughout the region to help Louisville land national letters of intent from four highly recruited prep players on the west coast this past fall, an area in which Pitino and Louisville had never recruited before Theus' arrival.
"I think all the things I have done in my career will help me recruit to New Mexico State," Theus said. "I got four players this year from the west coast to come play at Louisville next year. The traveling I did during my professional career and the acting jobs that I did all had a huge effect on my ability to recruit. The funny thing is there are a lot of parents that remember me from my playing days and a lot of student-athletes that remember me from my time on television."
Along with being instrumental in the Cardinals' push to recruit the west coast, Theus also helped the Cardinals win a recruiting war for Kansas transfer David Padgett in 2004. Padgett, a McDonald's High School All-American, was also being heavily recruited by the likes of UCLA and North Carolina. He started 19 games as a freshman for the Jayhawks and averaged 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds a game while blocking a team-high 43 shots.
Theus' coaching resume includes a variety of diverse experiences that should help the former NBA All-Star adjust to his first Division I head coaching position. Before joining Pitino's staff at Louisville, Theus spent a year as a volunteer assistant at Cal State Los Angeles. He also gained coaching experience as the head coach of the Southern California All-Stars (17-and-under AAU Team) and as a summer league coach for the Philadelphia 76'ers and the Denver Nuggets.
In the spring of 2002, Theus led the Las Vegas Slam of the American Basketball Association to the Western Conference finals where they lost to eventual champion Kansas City.
Before turning his attention to the coaching profession, Theus spent 13 years as a player in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls, Kansas City/Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Hawks, Orlando Magic and New Jersey Nets. After being drafted by the Bulls as the ninth overall pick in 1978, Theus finished runner-up in the NBA Rookie of the Year voting to Kansas City's Phil Ford and was named to the 1979 All-Rookie team.
Theus is one of only five players in NBA history score at least 19,000 points and dish out 6,000 assists, joining John Havlicek, Oscar Robertson, John Stockton and Jerry West with that distinction. When Theus retired he ranked 22nd on the NBA's all-time scoring list with 19,105 career points and 11th on the all-time assists list with 6,453 career assists. Over his 13-year career, Theus averaged 18.5 points, 6.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds a game while being named to the 1981 and 1983 NBA All-Star teams.
In 1992-93, Theus spent one season playing professionally in Italy with Ranger Varese. In 30 games with Ranger, Theus averaged 29.3 points, 5.4 assists and 3.9 rebounds a game. Theus was the league's second leading scorer and leader in assists that season.
After retiring from professional basketball in 1993, Theus spent nearly a decade as an actor and television sports broadcaster. He served as an NBA analyst for Turner Sports, ESPN and was a co-star on the Fox Sports Net program "The Best Damn Sports Show Period."
Theus' extensive acting credits include playing Coach Bill Fuller for three years on NBC's hit Saturday morning television show "Hang Time".
Theus played his college basketball at UNLV for head coach Jerry Tarkanian from 1976 to 1978. In three seasons with the Runnin' Rebels, he averaged 12.9 points, 4.4 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game. Theus, who became one of the best players to ever don a UNLV uniform, shot 81 percent from the free-throw line for his career while amassing 1,177 career points (21st on all-time scoring list), 401 career assists and 389 career rebounds in just 91 collegiate games.
In 1989, Theus was inducted into the UNLV Ahtletic Hall of Fame and in 1997, he became one of only six players in school history to have his jersey retired by the Rebels.
As a sophomore, Theus helped lead UNLV into the national spotlight as the Rebels went 29-3, advancing to the school's first Final Four in Atlanta, Ga. Despite losing by a single point to North Carolina in the semifinals, UNLV defeated UNC-Charlotte in the third-place game and set NCAA single-season records for most points in a season (3,426), most 100-point games (23) and most consecutive 100-point games (12). He averaged 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game while shooting 81.8 percent from the charity stripe and 49.7 percent from the field as a sophomore.
As a junior, Reggie was named a second team All-American after averaging 18.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game.
Before attending UNLV, Theus was a standout at Inglewood High School. As a senior, he averaged 28.5 points and 15.5 rebounds a game while leading the Sentinels to the semifinals of the 4A CIF state tournament. He was named the team's most valuable player three straight years and led the squad to back-to-back Bay League championships in 1974 and 1975.
Along with a successful career as both a player and coach, Theus has also been an influential member of the communities where he and his family have lived. Among the charitable programs which have benefited from Theus' involvement are the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, he was the spokesperson for the NBA's Stay in School Program, "Rap with Reggie" and Reggie Theus' Trikes for Kids.
Theus and his wife Elaine have three children; Raquel, Reggie and Ryan