The University of San Diego will introduce Lamont Smith as its head coach for men’s basketball at a press conference to be held tomorrow afternoon, April 1st, at 2:00 p.m. (PDT) in the Jenny Craig Pavilion Warren Hospitality Suite. Smith, who replaces Bill Grier, becomes the Toreros’ twelfth head coach in program history and just the fifth coach since USD moved to the NCAA Division I ranks in 1979-80.
Smith, 39, comes to USD from the University of New Mexico where he has been on staff the past two years as the Associate Head Coach under Craig Neal. Smith brings with him plenty of west coast and regional recruiting ties, plus a reputation for developing student-athletes and being one of the hot up-and-coming coaches in the collegiate ranks.
Smith returns to USD where he was a member of the men’s basketball team from 1994-99. He started all 27 games his senior year in 1998-99 for the 18-9 Toreros. He was named the Toreros’ Defensive Player of the Year in 1997 and 1999 and served as the team captain from 1997-99. Smith earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of San Diego in 1998.
In 2013-14, Smith’s first season with the New Mexico program, the Lobos became one of the nation’s best defensive teams over the final half of the season, allowing just 66.1 points per game. For the third straight year, the Lobos held opponents under 40% shooting, limiting its competition to 38.9 percent from the field. UNM’s scoring defense dropped almost 15 points over the course of the season with Smith handling the defensive calls.
Smith spent 2012-13 with the University of Washington under Lorenzo Romar, where the Huskies went 18-16 overall and 9-9 in league play, advancing to the NIT, where Washington lost at BYU. It marked the second time that Smith had coached with Romar, as he got his start in coaching as a graduate assistant at Saint Louis from 1999-2001 when Romar was the coach of the Billikens.
Smith, a native of The Colony, Texas, was a graduate assistant coach at Saint Louis. Smith’s duties with the Billikens included coordinating the team’s video editing and film exchange, while assisting with team recruiting, scouting and strength and conditioning programs.
Washington was Smith’s second Pac-12 stop after spending four seasons (2008-12) at Arizona State. While at Arizona State, the Sun Devils had a pair of 20-win seasons with Smith on the bench and advanced to the NCAA Second Round in 2009. Smith also played a vital role in developing 2009 Pac-10 Player of the Year James Harden. Prior to joining Herb Sendek’s staff at Arizona State, Smith was at Santa Clara from 2007-08 as Kerry Keating’s top assistant. He helped recruit one of the top classes in the West Coast Conference during his time with the Broncos. Smith spent 2001-2007 as an assistant on the staff of Randy Bennett at Saint Mary’s before joining Santa Clara. Bennett and Smith knew each other from their time on Romar’s Saint Louis staff.
Saint Mary’s was 2-27 the year before Bennett and Smith arrived, and the Gaels won nine games the first year, 15 the second, 19 in the third and a then-school record 25 in 2004-05. The 2004-05 team made the NCAA Tournament for just the third time in the history of the program while the 2003-04 team set a school record by scoring 2,377 points. In the first four seasons he was at Saint Mary’s College, the Gaels led the WCC in scoring defense.