LOS ANGELES–Kevin O'Neill, who has 13 years of collegiate and NBA head coaching experience, has been named the men's basketball head coach at USC, Trojan athletic director Mike Garrett announced today (June 20).
We're thrilled to have Kevin O'Neill as our men's basketball coach," said Garrett. "Kevin is the consummate coach. He knows his Xs and Os, he's an excellent recruiter and he is very in tune with the academic side of a player's collegiate experience. His 30 years of experience at the college and professional levels has prepared him well for this opportunity. I love his coaching philosophy and principles: he's a no-nonsense coach who is very detail-oriented and prepares his teams well. He stresses defense and I've always believed that defense wins championships."
Said O'Neill: "I'm very excited about this opportunity to coach at such a great institution as USC, with its tremendous athletic and academic tradition. I appreciate Mike Garrett's confidence in me. I will work my hardest to coach us to a championship level every single day. I can't wait to get started."
He takes over for Tim Floyd, who resigned on June 9 after 4 seasons at USC. The Trojans won at least 20 games and made the NCAA tourney in each of the last 3 seasons, both school records.
O'Neill, 52, has worked in the basketball coaching ranks for 30 years, most recently spending the 2009 season as an assistant coach and special assistant to the general manager of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies.
He began his NCAA Division I collegiate head coaching career at Marquette, where he went 86-62 (.581) in 5 seasons (1990-94) and had 3 post-season appearances. His initial 1990 team went 15-14 and played in the NIT (the school's first winning season and post-season trip since 1987). His 1993 squad was 20-8 (Marquette's first 20-win season since 1985) and captured the school's first NCAA berth since 1983. That season, he was named the Great Midwest Conference Co-Coach of the Year, Basketball Weekly Midwest Coach of the Year and National Association of Basketball Coaches District 11 Coach of the Year and he was a finalist for Associated Press National Coach of the Year. He then went 24-9 in 1994, helped Marquette to its first-ever league title and guided the Warriors to their first NCAA Sweet Sixteen berth since 1979. He was selected as the 1994 Great Midwest Coach of the Year and NABC District 11 Co-Coach of the Year. His final 2 Marquette teams led the nation in defensive field goal percentage. While at Marquette, he was featured in the 1994 Oscar-nominated documentary, "Hoop Dreams."
He then became Tennessee's head coach for 3 years (1995-97), inheriting a team that had won just 5 games in 1994 and getting the Volunteers into the NIT tourney by his second season.
He next was the head coach at Northwestern for 3 seasons (1998-2000), where he went 30-56. The 1999 Wildcats team was 15-14 (their first winning season since 1994) and played in the NIT, just the third post-season appearance in school history.
O'Neill then went to the NBA as an assistant coach, spending 2001 with the playoff-bound New York Knicks and then 2 seasons (2002-03) with the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons won 50 games, were the Central Division champs and appeared in the playoffs both seasons (advancing to the Eastern Conference finals in 2003) and were regarded among the NBA's premier defensive teams.
He served as the Toronto Raptors' head coach in 2004. His team started out 25-25 and was in position to make the NBA playoffs, but then injuries struck and the team finished with a 33-49 record, just missing a playoff spot.
He spent the next 3 years (2005-07) with the Indiana Pacers, the first 2 as an assistant as the club made the NBA playoffs both seasons and the third as a consultant.
O'Neill was named interim head coach at Arizona for the 2008 season when Lute Olson took a leave of absence. His Wildcats went 19-15 and made the NCAA tourney.
O'Neill began his coaching career as the head coach at Central High in Hammond, N.Y. in 1980, then spent the next 2 years (1981-82) as the head coach at North Country Community College in Saranac Lake, N.Y. He was the head coach at the NAIA's Marycrest College in Davenport, Ia., in 1983.
He then became an assistant coach at Delaware for 2 seasons (1984-85), Tulsa in 1986 and Arizona for 3 years (1987-89) before landing the head coaching job at Marquette. Tulsa won the 1986 Missouri Valley Conference tournament and made the NCAAs. Arizona captured the Pac-10 title and Pac-10 Tournament crown in both 1988 and 1989 (it finished second in the 1987 league standings) and advanced to the NCAAs all 3 seasons (including to the Final Four in 1988).
O'Neill was a 3-year (1976-79) basketball letterman at McGill University in Montreal, helping the Redmen to a 52-38 (.598) mark in his career. In his 1978 junior season, McGill posted a school-record 28 wins and advanced to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championship tournament.
He received his bachelor's degree in education from McGill in 1979 and his master's degree in secondary education from Marycrest in 1983.
He was born on Jan. 24, 1957, in Malone, N.Y. His wife's name is Roberta. He has a son, Sean.