The South Dakota Men's Basketball team has its new head coach, and it's Nebraska assistant coach Craig Smith.
"It's like an NBA draft pick, right here," USD Men's Basketball Head Coach Craig Smith joked.
"It's just been a whirlwind, but what a great opportunity. My family and I couldn't be more happy with this incredible opportunity in front of us," Smith said.
USD's two-week dig for a men's basketball coach unearthed a potential gem in Nebraska assistant Craig Smith. A longtime assistant for Tim Miles at Mayville State, NDSU, Colorado State, and Nebraska, Smith is eager to make his mark on the Coyotes.
"I think the best compliment you can get as a coach is to look at your guys out there playing and it looks like they don't need a coach. It's not going to be easy. We're going to work our hands to the bone. It takes a strong backbone and a major commitment, and it's going to be an adjustment phase for our guys. But, watching the video, I feel like we have some really good pieces in place. I just feel like we have to add a few more, and the sky is going to be the limit," Smith said.
"When he talks about how he builds a team, the values he instills in young men, what he stands for...in those conversations, in the back of my mind, I'm just checking off my own checklist of the things I believe in, and amazingly enough, it was eerily similar," USD Athletic Director David Herbster said.
Smith was the head coach at Mayville State from 2004 until 2007, inheriting a team that finished 1-and-25. In 2007, the Comets played in the NAIA Championship, and Smith was named Coach of the Year. Smith attributes his success to those around him, and that starts with his basketball mentor --- Tim Miles.
"He really made a huge impact on me at a young age, starting at 22-years-old, and it's funny how your relationships evolve into now being a 41-year-old man and he's 47, and we've become best of friends, and to be honest, it's more like a brother-brother relationship. He's the youngest of five and I'm the oldest of five. So, we all know the youngest are the most spoiled. But, he's just been a tremendous influence on my life," Smith said.
Smith joked that he was grateful for the opportunity Miles gave him to coach in the NCAA tournament, as Tim was ejected from Nebraska's game against Baylor. Smith met with the Coyotes this afternoon, and while he likes USD's nucleus, he says he's always recruiting and that it's time to get to work.