A Clinton native and Oklahoma assistant-coach, Lew Hill, has been named the next head coach of the The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley men’s basketball program.
Hill was born in Clinton, and his mother, Annie Hill, still resides in Clinton today. His brother, Emory, was a 1985 graduate of Clinton High School, and currently resides in Laurel Maryland.
“We are obviously extremely proud of Lew,” said Emory. “I always knew he had it in him, and he has been telling me that his eyes were set on a head coaching job for a long time. My mother and I, along with our entire family are extremely proud.”
Hill began his role as head coach of UTRGV once the Sooners fell in the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four to eventual National Champion, Villanova.
“Lew Hill is one of the top recruiters in the nation, but more importantly, within the state of Texas. He is a high character individual that brings a strong values system to our program,” UTRGV Director of Athletics Chris King said in a release. “Lew follows the Lon Kruger blueprint for success, which includes a culture that fits our culture. Lew understands the need and has the ability to develop meaningful relationships on campus, in the community and within the college basketball industry. His style of play features teams attacking on offense and defense, which brings an exciting brand of basketball to the Rio Grande Valley and the Western Athletic Conference.”
The head coaching position will be Hill’s first. He has previously been an assistant with six different teams over the past 26 years. He has been at Oklahoma since 2011 after working at UNLV, Texas A&M, East Carolina, Southeast Missouri State and South Alabama.
“I’m very excited that Chris and Dr. Bailey have not only presented me with this opportunity, but are also trusting me to come and revitalize the program, bring great energy, and a winning attitude,” Hill said in a release. “As I said to the team during my interview, the winning starts now. We’re going to work hard and play hard and have fun. Fun is one of my favorite words because people tend to work hard when they’re having fun.”
Hill has worked under current Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger since 2004, following him from UNLV to Oklahoma.
“Coach Kruger’s a great leader and I’ve learned so much from him,” Hill said in his release. “He got his start in the Rio Grande Valley and I’m honored to be able to follow in his footsteps. It’s like a dream come true. We’ll use the same principles at UTRGV that we use at Oklahoma, such as family, trust, love, caring, and respect. Those are words people will hear from me a lot in the community and around the university.”
Before getting into coaching, Hill played at San Jacinto Junior College and later transferred to Wichita State.
Hill and UTRGV will participate in the Western Athletic Conference in the NCAA Men’s Division 1. Among teams to participate in the conference, includes a regular in the NCAA Tournament, New Mexico State, and Chicago State.
“Lew gets back to Clinton every chance he can to visit mom,” said Emory. “We are looking forward to all gathering back home with her and celebrating this great achievement.”
Reach Adam Capps at 910-214-9585.