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UNLV has formally announced that it has hired Kevin Kruger to be its new basketball coach, and at least one person who knows Kruger well thinks it’s a smart move.
“I was ecstatic about the hire,” Curtis Terry, Kruger’s teammate at UNLV in the mid-2000s, told the Las Vegas Sun. “I think Kevin is the right guy and has the right makeup not just to lead UNLV basketball but to lead a basketball program. Obviously he’s a coach’s son and he’s played at the highest level, and in terms of what he’s done in his coaching career, he fully immerses himself in everything he does.”
Not only is Kruger a former UNLV player, but he’s also the son of former UNLV and current Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger. Papa Kruger also had stints with several other college and NBA teams, including the Atlanta Hawks, where he coached Terry’s brother, Jason Terry.
Kevin Kruger spent the previous two seasons as an assistant under T.J. Otzelberger at UNLV. Before that, he was an assistant under his dad at Oklahoma. This is Kevin’s first head coaching job, but he’s displayed leadership qualities for some time, according to Terry.
“Kevin has always been a leader,” Curtis Terry said. “Kevin always had that innate ability to rally people and get them moving in the same direction toward a common goal, and that’s what he did in his one season at UNLV here with us the year we went to the Sweet 16.”
Otzelberger left to take the coaching gig at Iowa State. In searching for his replacement, UNLV was said to have an interest in Hall of Fame point guard and current Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd.
“Kevin impressed us with his vision, the depth and sophistication of his plan, and his enthusiasm,” UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois said in a statement. “He cares about student-athletes and helping them achieve their hopes and dreams. He has demonstrated integrity and consistent leadership, and his love for UNLV and our Las Vegas community is without question.
You can watch Lon Kruger congratulate his son for landing the UNLV gig right here.
“Honestly, I think he’s going to be Lon Kruger part two,” Terry said. “He’s going to be his version as Kevin, but there have been times last year and this year, we’d be at practice or on the road at shootaround and Kevin would say something or he’d be standing and his mannerisms would remind me of coach Kruger. It was kind of eerie.
“I think he’s very meticulous in his preparation, like Lon is. He’s never going to be caught off guard. Always on his toes and ready to adapt and adjust. Kevin can be very fiery and passionate, and I know there’s going to be nothing Kevin is more passionate about than getting UNLV basketball back to where it’s supposed to be.”
Terry has most recently served as an analyst on UNLV radio broadcasts.