French named Assistant Basketball Coach at Cal Poly

Bringing more than two decades of experience to Mott Athletics Center from a variety of collegiate divisions, Darren French was recently named Cal Poly men’s basketball assistant coach.

French, joining fourth-year head coach John Smith‘s staff alongside second-year assistant Keith Berard, arrives in San Luis Obispo after serving as Texas Tech’s director of operations last season. With French, the Red Raiders finished 27-10 overall last year, as Big 12 Conference Tournament runner-up and reached the 2022 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

“Coach French brings a level of maturity to our staff that was needed,” Smith said. “He also brings more than 20 years of coaching experience – including at Texas Tech under defensive mastermind [and head coach] Mark Adams. He’ll be able to impart some of those winning traits within our program immediately as he’ll be deeply involved on the defensive side of the ball for us. He’s no stranger to the Cal State University system, which makes his transition to Cal Poly seamless.”

Prior to last season with Texas Tech, French enjoyed a three-year stretch as assistant coach at Cal State Los Angeles (2018-21). During French’s initial 2018-19 season, Cal State LA finished 18-12 overall and reached the California Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament semifinals for just the third time in program history.

Prior to his time with Cal State LA, French spent four seasons at two-year East Los Angeles College, helping the Huskies to a 95-28 overall record, three straight CCCAA State Tournament Elite Eight appearances and back-to-back South Coast Conference championships. During French’s initial season, the Huskies reached the CCCAA State Tournament championship game as a No. 13 seed.

An assistant coach at Cal State East Bay from 2010-13, French also served as an assistant with Cal State San Bernardino (2006-08), helping the Coyotes to the 2007 NCAA Division II Tournament Final Four and a 2008 California Collegiate Athletic Association title.

In between those stretches, French was at two-year Howard College (Big Spring, Texas). Under future Texas Tech head coach Mark Adams, French assisted the program to the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 5 Tournament semifinals. He also played a vital role in recruiting the talent that allowed Howard to capture the 2010 NJCAA National Championship.

French began his collegiate coaching career at Oregon, helping the Ducks to a third-place Pac-10 Conference finish for the 1999-2000 season and a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

French’s career also includes assistant coaching stints at two-year Ventura College (2000-01), UC Riverside (2001-04) and Tyler Junior College (2004-05) and one season as head coach at Colorado Northwestern Community College (2005-06).

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