11/16/2014 Oklahoma vs Southeastern Louisiana men's basketball. Photo by Ty Russell

 

On Friday, April 1, UTSA Athletics announced Steve Henson as the new head coach of the UTSA men’s basketball team.

“(Henson) brings an outstanding résumé as a collegiate coach, along with a great record of achievement as a player at the collegiate and professional levels,” said Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Lynn Hickey in a press release. “Coach Henson is a quality man who has the ability, passion and work ethic to build UTSA into a competitive Conference USA (C-USA) program.”

Henson’s hiring came roughly three weeks after Brooks Thompson, who held the position for 10 seasons and compiled a 133-178 record, was fired. Thompson’s most successful stretch was between 2008 and 2012 when UTSA competed in the Southland Conference – he led the team to four straight winning seasons and an NCAA tournament appearance in 2011.

Last season, the Roadrunners finished last in C-USA with a 5-27 record and according to sports-reference.com, posted a conference-worst net rating (point differential per 100 possessions) of negative 20.23 – six points lower than the next-worst team, Southern Mississippi.

The departures of Jeromie Hill, Keon Lewis and Kaj-Bjorn Sherman last summer dropped the Roadrunners’ offensive efficiency from fifth to 12th place among C-USA’s 14 teams. The decrease in production contributed to the Roadrunners’ fall from ninth to last place in C-USA; however, the Roadrunners struggled defensively even before those three players left.

In each season since joining C-USA in 2013, UTSA has finished either last or next-to-last in defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions). In that time, the team has posted a 27-65 record for a .293 winning percentage.

Photo by Ty Russell, Oklahoma Athletics

Photo by Ty Russell, Oklahoma Athletics

Henson was a point guard and multi-sport athlete at Kansas State University from 1986 to 1990. In addition to being one of the most reliable starters in the program’s history, he also competed in the javelin, high jump, discus, pole vault and 1,500-meter run events for Kansas State’s track and field team.

According to UTSA Athletics’ press release, Henson “still holds all-time program records for assists (582), assists per game (4.58), free-throw percentage (.900), minutes played (4,474), minutes per game (35.2), starts (118), consecutive games played (127) and consecutive starts (118).”

In 2013, Henson was inducted to Kansas State Athletics’ Hall of Fame – an accomplishment he and Hickey have in common.

Hickey was inducted as a result of her tenure as Kansas State’s women’s basketball coach from 1979-1984. During that time, she coached the team to a 125-39 record and two national tournament appearances.

After graduating in 1990 and being selected by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 44th overall pick in the NBA Entry Draft, Henson had a seven-year professional career including stints with the Bucks, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Portland Trailblazers and Detroit Pistons, as well as three years in professional leagues in Greece and Italy.

In 1999, Henson began his coaching career as an assistant to University of Illinois Head Coach Lon Kruger. Henson and Kruger’s relationship dates back to Henson’s collegiate career; Kruger was the Wildcats’ coach for each of Henson’s four seasons at Kansas State.

After a season with Kruger in Illinois, Henson spent two years with the Atlanta Hawks – first as an advance scout, then as an assistant coach – before returning to the NCAA as an assistant coach for the University of South Florida in 2003.

He then reunited with Kruger and spent seven years (2004-2011) as an assistant at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). And when Oklahoma hired Kruger in 2011, Kruger brought Henson along.

In Henson’s five seasons in Oklahoma, the Sooners accomplished four consecutive 20-win seasons, improved their record each year and reached the Final Four this year for the first time since 2002.

The Sooners entered the Final Four as a No. 2 seed before being eliminated by Villanova on Saturday, April 2 in a historically lopsided 44-point loss – the biggest margin in Final Four history.

According to an Associated Press article regarding Henson’s hiring, Henson “helped mentor the Sooners’ guards,” most notably Buddy Hield, who twice received Big 12 Conference Player of the Year honors.

Henson’s work ethic and knack for developing lasting professional relationships, evidenced by his consistent elevation to leadership positions, made him a coveted first-time head coach candidate.

“(Henson’s) relationship with the players is second to none, his work ethic is unbelievable and he has an interest and ability to get out in the community and represent (UTSA) in a first-class way,” said Kruger. “I think he’ll be a great partner for Lynn Hickey. She’s fantastic, and those two knowing each other going way back will contribute to their doing terrific things.”

“There are many people to whom I’m grateful that have helped me reach this point,” said Henson, “and I would not be here without each and every one of them. My family and I are looking forward to connecting with the people of UTSA and San Antonio.”

A press conference will be held on Friday, April 8 to officially introduce Henson. As is the case with any coaching position, the U.T. System Board of Regents must approve the hiring before it is finalized.

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