By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
Will Wade is close to making his first hire as LSU basketball coach, with former North Texas head coach Tony Benford expected to join his staff.
Sources told Tiger Rag on Monday the hire was close to happening, and the Denton Record Chronicle reported the imminent hire first Tuesday. Benford, sources told Tiger Rag, was on campus Monday.
Benford, 53, replaced Johnny Jones in Denton after Jones took the LSU job in 2012 and has 25 years of college coaching experience under his belt, with extensive recruiting ties across the country and a track record of recruiting and developing NBA talent.
Prior to his stop at North Texas, Benford was an assistant at Marquette, Nebraska, Arizona State, and New Mexico. At Marquette, he worked with Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder, and he worked with Eddie House at Arizona State. In his career, he has recruited and coached 11 NBA draft picks, including five first round selections.
Benford has extensive recruiting ties in Texas, an area Wade spoke of recruiting at his introductory press conference last week.
“Houston is four hours away, Houston is going to be a major, major spot for us,” Wade said. “We may expand to some other areas as we need to, but we’re going to keep this thing close. If we can get the best players from Louisiana every year, we’re going to be really good shape.”
Benford got his start in college coaching at New Mexico in 1992. Prior to his coaching career, Benford played four seasons at Texas Tech from 1982 to 1986. The Boston Celtics took him in the fourth round of the 1986 NBA Draft.
He was 62-95 in five seasons at North Texas’ head coach, going 30-60 in conference play before being fired at the end of the 2017 season.
Wade now has two more full time assistant spots to fill, plus a number of support staff roles. He said he hopes to fave a full staff in place for the first live recruiting period in April.
“We’re working on that,” he said last week. “We’re working on that and I’m going to take my time, going to try to get the lay of the land here. I’ve been down here recruiting myself some, but I’m going to get the lay of the land and we’re going to hire some guys with some Louisiana flavor. We’re going to hire some guys that know this state, that know this area, that’s a priority for me. I know some of those guys and are getting to know some others, but we’re going to put together the best staff and the best fits for LSU and for our program.”
Tony Benford Bio
1982–1986, Texas Tech[/table]
[table]1992–1998, New Mexico (asst.)
1998–2004, Arizona State (asst.)
2004–2006, Arizona State (assoc. HC)
2006–2008, Nebraska (asst.)
2008–2011, Marquette (asst.)
2011–2012, Marquette (assoc. HC)
2012–2017, North Texas (head coach) [/table]