An assistant coach at Iowa State University for the previous two years, Neill Berry has been named assistant coach at The University of Texas. The 36-year-old Berry brings 13 years of experience at the Division I level, including nine seasons as an assistant coach. He replaces Mike Morrell, who became the head coach at UNC Asheville earlier this spring.
“I’m extremely excited about Neill joining our staff. It’s been about six weeks since Mike got the job at UNC Asheville. I wanted to make sure I did my homework and considered a variety of candidates,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said. “I did a ton of research on many different guys, trying to figure out who would be the best fit for our program. I kept coming back to the feeling that Neill is the best fit for our staff and our team, and he is a guy who can come in here and hit the ground running in all facets of the job.”
“Neill is a name that kept coming up as I talked to people about who were really good assistant coaches with a strong track record, and guys who were well-rounded with the ability to recruit, coach and relate to players,” Smart continued. “One thing I value greatly about Neill is he will be a tremendous addition in terms of staff chemistry. Everyone that we’ve talked to about him has said he has no ego and is a team player.”
“The fact that Neill has experience at this level and in this league is a real positive,” Smart added. “He’s recruited quite a few guys who have turned out to be much better players than the so-called experts thought they would be. Developing young men is clearly a strength of Neill’s, which is a top priority in our program as well.”
Berry worked the previous three years under coach Steve Prohm at Iowa State, including the final two seasons in the role of assistant coach. After spending his first year as the program’s special assistant to the head coach, Berry was elevated to assistant coach in May 2016. In Berry’s three seasons on the staff, Iowa State posted a 60-41 mark and advanced to a pair of NCAA Tournaments, including a run to the “Sweet 16” in 2015-16.
Three players on the 2017-18 Cyclones earned All-Big 12 Conference honors, including freshman guard Lindell Wigginton. Berry served as the primary recruiter for Wigginton, who was the Cyclones’ first five-star recruit since Craig Brackins in 2007. Wigginton earned All-Big 12 honorable mention accolades and a spot on the Big 12 All-Newcomer team as a freshman. ISU earned three victories last season against Top 15 opponents, including a 70-52 victory against No. 8 Texas Tech. The 18-point win marked the largest margin of victory against a Top 10 team in school history.
Iowa State posted a 24-11 mark (12-6 Big 12, tie for second), won the Big 12 tournament championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Second Round in 2016-17. The Cyclones won 92-89 in overtime at No. 3 Kansas, snapping the Jayhawks’ 51-game win streak at Allen Fieldhouse. Iowa State was one of the nation’s best offensive teams during the year, ranking in the top 12 in adjusted offensive efficiency and top 30 in scoring offense (80.8 ppg). The Cyclones ranked No. 16 in the final Associated Press poll.
In 2015-16, Iowa State registered a 23-12 record (10-8 Big 12, fifth) and advanced to the NCAA “Sweet 16.” The Cyclones were ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 all season, climbing as high as No. 4 in the poll. ISU defeated No. 1 Oklahoma, 82-77, marking just the second time in school history the Cyclones topped a No. 1-ranked opponent. Georges Niang earned the 2016 Karl Malone Award, given annually to the nation’s top power forward.
Prior to his arrival at Iowa State, Berry served for three seasons as an assistant coach at High Point University (High Point, N.C.). The Panthers registered a 56-39 record in his three years, including a 37-13 mark in Big South Conference play. High Point advanced to postseason play in each of Berry’s three seasons.
In 2012-13, the Panthers went to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT), marking the school’s first appearance in Division I postseason play. High Point earned an automatic bid to the Postseason NIT in 2013-14 and advanced to the CIT in 2014-15. The Panthers won the North Division of the Big South twice (2012-13 and 2013-14). The league went away from divisions in 2014-15, and High Point tied with Charleston Southern for the conference title.
Berry was on the staff under head coach Darrin Horn at the University of South Carolina for four years (2008-12). He served his first year (2008-09) as the Director of Player Development, before being elevated to assistant coach in 2009-10.
Berry began his coaching career as an intern under Horn at Western Kentucky in the 2005-06 season. The Hilltoppers won the 2006 Sun Belt Conference East Division title for the first time in three years, recording a 23-8 mark (12-2 Sun Belt) and advancing to the Postseason NIT. Western Kentucky went 22-11 (12-6 Sun Belt) the following season. Berry earned his first full-time assistant job in 2007-08 with the Hilltoppers, and Western Kentucky registered a 29-7 record, won the Sun Belt Conference Tournament title and advanced to the NCAA “Sweet 16.” The Hilltoppers compiled a school-record 29 wins, including victories against Drake and San Diego in the NCAA tourney before falling to top-seed UCLA in the Round of 16.
Berry (born April 11, 1982) played basketball at Southeastern Louisiana University (Hammond, La.) for five seasons (2000-05). After serving as a reserve in his first two years at SLU, he redshirted during the 2002-03 season in order to increase his playing time over his final two years. In his junior season (2003-04), Berry led the Lions to a 20-9 mark and a share of the Southland Conference regular-season championship (11-5 league record). As a senior (2004-05), SLU went 24-9, won the SLC regular-season (13-3 league mark) and tournament championships and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. He earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing in 2003.
A native of Madison, Miss., Berry and his wife, Ashly, have a son, Ty, and two daughters, Kendall and Connor.
“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to join Coach Smart’s staff at Texas,” Berry said. “I have always had tremendous respect for Coach Smart from afar, and I am excited about the opportunity to learn from him and help out in any way possible moving forward. I have loved my time working for Coach Prohm at Iowa State and have learned so much from him, both on and off the floor. He has been an unbelievable mentor in my life. It was going to take a special opportunity to leave Iowa State, and I believe Texas is this opportunity. It is an amazing university in a great location with tremendous tradition and support. My family and I are very excited to get to Austin.”