Playing Experience: Western Kentucky (1992-95)
Darrin Horn enters his fourth season as the head basketball coach at the University of South Carolina in 2011-12. Horn came to Columbia prior to the 2008-09 season after five seasons as the head coach at his alma mater, Western Kentucky University. Horn owns a 50-42 record in his three seasons at South Carolina, while his eight-year career record stands at 161-90, a .641 winning percentage.
Along with his record on the court, Horn's players have also been successful off of it. Every player who has completed his eligibility under Horn, both at South Carolina and Western Kentucky, has earned his degree.
Horn led one of the youngest teams in the nation in 2010-11, with only nine seasons of Division I basketball experience among the 12 players that were eligible for game action. South Carolina battled through a rigorous non-conference schedule, including nationally-televised contests at then-No. 2 Michigan State and then-No. 2 Ohio State early on in the campaign. Following the non-conference portion of the schedule, the Garnet and Black earned thrilling overtime victories at Colonial Life Arena over then-No. 22 Vanderbilt and Arkansas, and earned an impressive 72-69 road win at Florida during the SEC season.
Senior Sam Muldrow collected just the second triple-double in South Carolina history during the 2010-11 campaign en route to SEC Defensive Player of the Year accolades, while point guard Bruce Ellington was selected to the league's All-Freshman team.
In his second season in Columbia, Horn led his veteran squad into a highly-anticipated 2009-10 campaign. Led by heralded senior guard Devan Downey, an Honorable Mention All-American by the Associated Press and All-SEC First Team honoree by the coaches and media, South Carolina collected an 11-5 mark in Colonial Life Arena, a road victory in its SEC opener at Auburn - Carolina's first victory in a league opener on the road since the 1993 campaign - and an upset victory over No. 1 Kentucky in a nationally-televised contest in late January. The win over the Wildcats was South Carolina's first in eight tries over a top ranked opponent in the school's then-102 years of basketball.
Postseason accolades continued in 2009-10 for the Gamecocks, as Downey and Muldrow were each selected to the SEC All-Defensive Team, while Downey became just the second Gamecock to be named to the AP All-SEC First Team in three seasons.
Academic success also continued, as the program followed its upward trend in the classroom under Horn, finishing with a 2.822 team GPA in the fall of 2009.
In the summer of 2010, South Carolina's recruiting class achieved its highest rankings in recent history. A collective effort by the entire Gamecock coaching staff, the class was ranked No. 17 in the country according to Scout.com, No. 22 in the Rivals.com rankings and was the No. 25 class according to ESPN.com.
In just his first year at the helm of the Gamecock program (2008-09), Horn led South Carolina to one of the most successful seasons in its then-18 year history competing in the Southeastern Conference, as the squad earned double-digit SEC victories for just the third time since joining the league and battled its way to an SEC Eastern Division Co-Championship. Additionally, Carolina's 21 wins in 2008-09 was its first 20-win season since the 2005-06 campaign. Horn led the Gamecocks to their first postseason appearance since the 2005-06 campaign with a trip to the NIT.
In his first season with the Gamecocks, Horn tutored a trio of All-SEC performers in Downey (First Team, coaches/media), junior forward Dominique Archie (Second Team, coaches/Honorable Mention, media) and senior guard Zam Fredrick (Second Team, coaches). Brandis Raley-Ross was also honored as the SEC Sixth Man of the Year, while Downey, an SEC Player of the Year Candidate, was named an Honorable Mention All-American by the Associated Press. Horn was also instrumental in the emergence of the "Garnet Army," South Carolina's student section at Colonial Life Arena.
For his achievements during his first year in Columbia, Horn was named a finalist for the 2009 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award, given annually to the nation's top coach.
Horn also had an immediate impact on his team's off the court success, as the Gamecocks enjoyed one of their best academic years in history during the 2008-09 campaign. The squad earned its highest GPA on record (3.007) in the spring of 2009 after posting its then-second-highest GPA on record (2.749) in the fall.
Horn has also made an impact on the city of Columbia and its surrounding communities. The Inaugural Darrin Horn Ladies Clinic, held in December 2008 and hosted by the South Carolina men's basketball staff and players, was a highly successful event that benefited the American Cancer Society and its fight against breast cancer. The 2009 event doubled its numbers and benefited the Jimmy V Foundation, while the 2010 Ladies Clinic benefited the Palmetto Health Foundation For The Breast Cancer Program Research and Support Services.
Under Horn's tutelage, Western Kentucky compiled a record of 111-48, a .698 winning percentage, including a 29-7 record and a Sun Belt Conference title during the 2007-08 campaign. Prior to the 2007-08 campaign, Horn ranked 14th on Basketball Times' list of top 40 Up-and-Coming Coaches. The 29 wins tied the school record, while he averaged over 22 wins per season during his five-year stint in Bowling Green. He took his final squad to the "Sweet 16" as a No. 12 seed with wins over fifth-seeded Drake and No. 13 San Diego before its season came to an end in a 10-point loss to top-seed UCLA. Horn also led the Toppers to a pair of National Invitation Tournament appearances, including 2006 when they lost to South Carolina in the Colonial Life Arena.
Known for his up-tempo offense and pressure defense, Horn's 2006-07 squad posted a 22-11 record, its third-straight year of 20 or more wins. They were 12-6 in the Sun Belt Conference with all six losses decided by five points or less. No Hilltopper head coach had led WKU to three straight years of 20 or more wins in his first four seasons until Horn accomplished the feat.
In 2005-06, the Hilltoppers posted a 23-8 mark, winning the SBC East Division for the first time since 2002-03 after compiling a 12-2 league record, while reaching the championship game of the league tournament. That came on the heels of a 22-9 finish in 2004-05, including an opening-round victory in the NIT for the school's first win in a national postseason tournament since Horn was a senior on the 1994-95 squad.
In his first season as head coach at WKU, Horn helped the Toppers to 15 wins and a second-place finish in the Sun Belt conference East Division, despite returning only one starter.
Horn was a sophomore guard on the last Western Kentucky team to reach the "Sweet 16" in 1993. A four-time letterwinner and three-year starter, Horn helped lead the Hilltoppers to four consecutive 20-win seasons, two Sun Belt Conference championships and a pair of SBC Tournament titles. He was one of three players to assist WKU in reaching national postseason play in four consecutive seasons for the first time in school history, as the Toppers qualified for the 1992 NIT and followed with three straight NCAA Tournament appearances. An All-Sun Belt selection as a senior, Horn was named WKU's Athlete of the Year that season and was voted a third-team GTE Academic All-American. Horn holds the distinction of being the only player in the school's basketball history to score the team's first points in each of his four seasons.
After graduating from Western Kentucky in 1995, Horn began his coaching career at his alma mater, spending two seasons as a Hilltopper assistant coach. He worked for two years as an assistant coach at Morehead State University, before joining the Marquette staff in 1999. He was credited with recruiting Dwyane Wade to the Golden Eagles and was on the bench for their Final Four season in 2002-03. Members of the 2002-03 squad were inducted into the Marquette University Athletics Hall of Fame in the summer of 2009.
Horn joins a long list of former WKU coaches that have moved up to bigger programs, including Gene Keady (Purdue), Clem Haskins (Minnesota), Ralph Willard (Pittsburgh) and Dennis Felton (Georgia).
Off the court, Horn was part of the USO's "Operation Hardwood III" in August 2006, taking part in an eight-day tour of Japan, coaching military players in a tournament while visiting military personnel in the region.
Horn is married to the former Carla Walker, also a WKU alumnus. The couple has one daughter, Caroline, and one son, Walker.