Following up on my Tweet from earlier today. Jason Hooten to New Mexico State is now official. Here’s the release from NMSU:
NM State Director of Athletics Mario Moccia has announced the hiring of Jason Hooten as the 28th head coach of the Aggie men’s basketball program. Hooten brings with him an impressive 13 years of head coaching experience across his 30-year coaching career.
In 13 seasons as the head coach at Sam Houston State University, Hooten displayed a track record of success as he compiled 261 wins, posted a .607 win percentage and helped the Bearkats to six postseason appearances, including a win in the first round of the 2023 NIT. Hooten’s ability to build a winning program guided him to become the Bearkats’ winningest coach in program history. Hooten and his staff helped lead the SHSU program to six 20-plus win seasons, including four in the last six seasons.
“I believe Coach Hooten is a tremendous fit for New Mexico State,” Moccia said. “Throughout his coaching career, he has demonstrated an ability to build hard-nosed, defensive-minded teams. Importantly, his programs are always modeled on character and integrity.”
In 2023, Hooten led the Bearkats to a program-tying record of 26 wins en route to earning the No. 1 seed in the 2023 WAC Tournament. On the heels of one of Sam Houston State University’s best seasons in program history, Hooten was named one of 20 finalists for the Hugh Durham Award, which is presented to the top Division I mid-major coach in the country. Hooten also appeared on the list of 25 finalists for the Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award – an award honoring success on the court while also displaying moral integrity off the court.
Under Hooten, the Bearkat program produced 36 all-conference honorees, including 2023 WAC Player of the Year Qua Grant who was one of four conference players of the year to take the court for Hooten. The Killeen, Texas, native also coached nine first team all-conference selections, four all-defensive team members and one Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
Hooten’s defensive philosophies helped build the program into one of the stingiest defenses in the country this season as the Bearkats held teams to just 59.3 points per game to rank fourth in the country and first in the conference. SHSU opponents also combined to shoot just 39.1% from the field in 2022-23 – a mark that was good for fifth in the nation and tops in the WAC.
Hooten’s Bearkat teams also gave NM State fits during their two-year stint as conference foes. Sam Houston knocked off the Aggies twice in two meetings, including handing NM State a 25-point loss to end a 10-game winning streak during the 2021-22 season. The 2022-23 season was also highlighted by a pair of wins over Power Five programs as they defeated both Oklahoma and Utah during non-conference play.
“Having competed against this storied program in the past, this is an exciting day for me and my family,” Hooten said. “I appreciate this opportunity to restore New Mexico State University’s basketball program to a position as one of the top mid-major programs in the country as we enter into Conference USA. I’m grateful to Mario Moccia and Chancellor Dan Arvizu for their support. I’m excited to meet Aggie Nation, including our outstanding student body which provides such a wonderful atmosphere in the Pan American Center. My family and I are eager to become part of the Las Cruces community.”
Prior to being appointed the head coach at Sam Houston, Hooten served as an assistant on the Bearkats’ staff from 2004 to 2010 and was a member of the coaching staff during one of two NCAA Tournament appearances in program history when SHSU reached the Big Dance in 2010. In five seasons as an assistant with Sam Houston, the Bearkats reached 20 wins four times and posted an overall record of 127-59. In 2009, RecruitingRumors.com named Hooten as one of the top 100 NCAA assistant coaches while CollegeInsider.com named him to the Mid-Major Top 25 assistant coaches honorable mention list.
Ahead of his time with Sam Houston, Hooten appeared on Lonn Reisman’s staff at Tarleton from 1993 to 2004. While coaching with his alma mater, Hooten helped the Texans construct a combined record of 204-111. Hooten’s stint at Tarleton blossomed from his time as a student-athlete at TSU where he played for two seasons under Reisman (1989-91). As a guard, Hooten helped lead the Texans to a record of 52-10 while leading Tarleton in assists with 123 in 1990-91.
Hooten received his undergraduate degree from Tarleton State University in 1993 before earning his master’s from Tarleton in 1995. He is married to Kristen Hooten and the two have a daughter, Jadyn, and a son, Jayce.
Hooten will be formally introduced to the Las Cruces and NM State communities Sunday, March 26, at 2:00 p.m. during his introductory press conference. That press conference will take place on the floor of the Pan American Center and will be open to the public.