Former ETSU Head Coach Oliver joins USF Basketball Staff as an Assistant

University of South Florida Head Men’s Basketball Coach Amir Abdur-Rahim has announced the addition of Desmond Oliver as an assistant coach on his first USF staff.

Oliver brings nearly 30 years of experience as both a head coach at East Tennessee State University (2021-23) and assistant coach stints at Tennessee (2015-21), Charlotte (2010-15), Canisius (2009-10), Georgia (2004-09), Rhode Island (2001-14), St. Bonaventure (2000-01), Cornell (1998-2000), Texas A&M (1997-98) and Niagara (1994-97).

“Coach Oliver is as decorated and connected of a coach that you’ll find in the entire country,” said Abdur-Rahim. “He is someone I had the pleasure of competing against during my time as an assistant at Texas A&M and Georgia while he was an assistant at Tennessee. Des brings a wealth of experience on the court and the recruiting trail, and is as passionate as anyone when it comes to wanting to impact young people and build men.

“Des’ pedigree and resume speak for themselves. His impact on winning at his various stops will give us the opportunity to grow every day. Someone who has seen multiple ways to win will always add value, and Des has seen a lot of winning!”

Oliver coached five different players to All-SoCon honors during his two-year tenure as head coach at ETSU (2021-23).

As an assistant coach at Tennessee (2015-21), Oliver saw the Vols compile 123 wins and make three trips to the NCAA Tournament, including a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2019. In the 2018-19 season, the Vols were ranked as high as No. 1 in the AP Top 25 Poll and finished sixth in the country with an overall record 31-6. Tennessee, who was ranked in the top-10 all season, went a perfect 11-0 in games where Oliver had the scout.

Oliver helped direct Tennessee to the 2018 SEC Championship and a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Vols were one of the best defensive teams in the country as they finished sixth nationally in defensive efficiency and led the SEC in scoring defense (65.7 ppg).

Oliver played a critical role in Tennessee’s recruiting, as the Vols’ 2020 class was ranked No. 4 nationally by ESPN and their 2016-17 freshman class finished as the highest-scoring rookie class in program history with 1,040 points. Oliver coached three players who were selected in the NBA Draft, including back-to-back SEC Player of the Year and first team All-American Grant Williams. Williams was drafted 22nd overall by the Boston Celtics in 2019, while Admiral Schofield (42nd overall by Philadelphia) and Jordan Boone (57th overall by Detroit) were also taken in the 2019 Draft.

In his five-year stint at Charlotte (2010-15), the 49ers defeated three top-15 opponents – No. 7 Tennessee (49-48, 2010-11), No. 11 Butler (71-67, 2012-13), and No. 14 Michigan (63-61), when they claimed the 2013 Puerto Rico Tip-Off. A year prior, Charlotte won the 2012 Great Alaska Shootout, while finishing the 2012-13 season with 21 wins and a trip to the NIT.  The 21 wins marked the most by a Charlotte 49er team since posting 22 in 2000-01. Oliver was also essential in having the 49ers post back-to-back non-BCS top-10 recruiting classes.

Prior to his one season at Canisius (2009-10), where the Golden Griffins had their highest win total over a nine-year span, Oliver had his first run as an assistant in the SEC at the University of Georgia (2004-09).

Oliver led the Bulldogs to a pair of postseason berths – a 2007 NIT appearance and a trip to the 2008 NCAA Tournament. Georgia completed a historic run to win the 2008 SEC Tournament as they had to win two games on Saturday – the quarterfinal game versus Kentucky followed by the semifinal win over Mississippi State. Georgia then defeated Arkansas in the championship, marking the Bulldogs’ first SEC Tournament title since 1983. While at Georgia, Oliver recruited Travis Leslie and Howard Thompkins, who both ended up being NBA Draft picks. 

Over a four-year stretch, Oliver spent time on Jim Baron’s staff – one season at St. Bonaventure (2000-01), and then three years at Rhode Island (2001-04). At Rhode Island, Oliver helped guide the Rams to a 13-win improvement from 2001-02 to 2002-03. The Rams finished with 21 wins in 2002-03, and again, posted another 20-win campaign in his third and final season en route to making their second straight NIT appearance.

The Buffalo native began his collegiate coaching career in New York where he joined Jack Armstrong’s staff at Niagara (1994-97). Oliver helped recruit Alvin Young to the Purple Eagles, and Young went on to lead all NCAA Division I players in scoring in 1999 (25.1 ppg) and receive MAAC Player of the Year honors.

Following his three years at Niagara, Oliver then coached one season at Texas A&M (1997-98) and two seasons at Cornell (1994-97).

Oliver, a 1992 graduate from Dominican College in Orangeburg, N.Y., was a three-year starter on the basketball team and a two-year team captain. He earned a Master’s degree in student personnel administration at Buffalo State. As Oliver was working on his Master’s, he started his coaching career as a varsity assistant and head junior varsity coach at Turner-Carroll High School.

Following an outstanding prep career at DeSales High School in Lockport, New York, Oliver played one year at Genesee Community College in Batavia, New York under coach Bill Van Gundy (father of NBA head coaches Jeff and Stan).

Oliver and his wife, Annette, have two sons, Dante and Dallas.

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