April 1, 2008
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (April 1, 2008) - Darrin Horn has been named the head coach of the men's basketball program at the University of South Carolina, Gamecocks' Athletics Director Eric Hyman announced today.
Horn, 35, has spent the past five seasons as the head coach at his alma mater, Western Kentucky University. Under Horn's tutelage, the Hilltoppers 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. The 29 wins tied the school record. He averaged over 22 wins per season during his five-year stint in Bowling Green. He took his latest squad to the "Sweet 16" as a No. 12 seed with wins over fifth-seeded Drake and No. 13 San Diego before their season came to an end in a 10-point loss to top-seed UCLA. He also led the Toppers to a pair of National Invitation Tournament appearances, including 2006 when lost to South Carolina in the Colonial Center.
Known for his up-tempo offense and pressure defense, Horn 2006-07 squad posted a 22-11 record, their 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 championships 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 post-season win in a national postseason tournament since he was a senior on the 1994-95 squad.
In his first season as the had coach on the Hill, Horn helped the Toppers to 15 wins and a second-place finish in the Sun Belt conference East Division despite returning only one starter.
Along with his record on the court, Horn's players have also been successful off it. Every player who has completed his eligibility under Horn at WKU has earned his degree.
Horn ranked 14th on the Basketball Times' list of top 40 Up-and-Coming Coaching entering the 2007-08 campaign.
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 third-team GTE Academic All-America.
Horn holds the distinction of being the only player in the school's 89 years of 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.
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 of 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.
Horn is taking over for Dave Odom, who coached the Gamecocks for seven seasons before announcing on January 18 that he would retire at the end of the season.
Darrin Horn File
Born: December 24, 1972 in Glasgow, Ky.
Children: Caroline and Walker
Head Coaching Career
2003-04 Western Kentucky 15-13
What They're Saying About Darrin Horn
"Selfishly I am disappointed to see Darrin leave the conference, but I am appreciate of all the things his teams accomplish under his leadership, on the court, in the classroom and in the community. His foresight and commitment to building a program and not just a team was never more evident than the team that played in the Sweet Sixteen this year. We wish Darrin and his family well in the future."
"Darrin Horn has incredible passion, amazing toughness and a work ethic second to none. His confidence as a player carried over to his coaching and it has, and will, carry over to his players."
"Coach Horn will be a star. He'll be going to Final Fours. He can really coach but understands how to treat people. He treats his players like sons."
"I love Coach Horn. He made me a better player and better person. He taught me how to be accountable. He's done everything he promised he would do when he recruited me."
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