Orlando Early was named an assistant coach at South Carolina on April 15, 2010. Early made the move to Columbia after spending five seasons as the head coach at the University of Louisiana-Monroe.
"Coach Early brings a wealth of experience to Carolina, not only as a former head coach, but on the recruiting trail as well," South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn said at the time of Early's hiring. "He is a proven winner and recruiter, holding high-level assistant coaching positions with Bobby Lutz at Charlotte and Mark Gottfried at Alabama. He and I coached against each other in the Sun Belt Conference during my time at Western Kentucky, and I'm certain he will bring the same tenacity and enthusiasm that I saw then to his position at South Carolina."
Early led Louisiana-Monroe to a 60-92 record during his five-year tenure as head coach of the Warhawk program, including a 43-24 mark in home contests. He led a squad that was heavily affected by Hurricane Katrina to a 10-18 mark during his first season (2005-06), and followed with an 18-14 record in 2006-07 - the program's first winning season since the 2001-02 campaign. His sophomore squad collected a 14-0 mark in home contests and a share of the Sun Belt Conference West Division title in the program's first season in the league. For his efforts, Early was named Coach of the Year by four different outlets, including the Sun Belt Conference, Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches, the Louisiana Sports Writers Association and National Association of Basketball Coaches (District 8 Coach of the Year). He also concluded the season as a finalist for the Hugh Durham Mid-Major Coach of the Year award.
Early's 2007-08 squad posted a 10-21 record and an injury-laden 2008-09 team finished the season with a 10-20 mark. In his final season at ULM, the Warhawks posted a 12-19 record, including a 6-12 mark in league play. The squad advanced to the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Tournament, falling to eventual tournament champion North Texas.
Early began his coaching career at his alma mater, Gardner-Webb, from 1993-95. He followed with a three-year stint at Western Carolina, one as an assistant coach, during which the Catamounts captured the Southern Conference Championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, and his final two seasons as the associate head coach. Early followed his term at WCU by continuing to climb the coaching ladder, spending three seasons (1998-01) as an assistant at Charlotte under head coach Bobby Lutz. He helped the 49ers to a pair of Conference USA titles, two NCAA Tournament appearances and an NIT appearance.
Prior to his appointment at ULM, Early spent four seasons (2001-05) as an assistant under Mark Gottfried at Alabama. The Crimson Tide topped the 20-win mark three times, posted a combined 88-41 record, advanced to four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, held a No. 1 national ranking, won an SEC regular-season championship and made an NCAA Elite Eight appearance with Early on the bench. His work as an assistant coach was recognized on a national level in 2004, as Athlon Sports named him the third-best assistant coach in the nation.
Early is married to wife, Jualeah, and has three children, Nakita, Storm and Erica.