NKU’s Drew McDonald grew up a Kentucky fan
Kentucky keeps calling Darrin Horn home, and this time it’s giving him a second chance as a head coach.
Northern Kentucky University named Horn, a Glasgow native and former high school standout at Tates Creek in Lexington, its new men’s basketball coach late Tuesday night.
“It’s a thrill for me to be named the head coach at Northern Kentucky,” Horn said in a school news release. “It was a job I’ve had my eye on for a while now. There is great momentum and energy surrounding both the basketball program and university. Norse basketball is a winning program with players who know what it takes to win.”
The school will introduce Horn as its sixth all-time head coach during a news conference Thursday afternoon at NKU. Horn replaces John Brannen, who was hired last week as the new head coach at Cincinnati.
“Throughout the hiring process, it became clear that Darrin was the right fit to lead the Norse men’s basketball program,” NKU Director of Athletics Ken Bothof said. “Not only does he have ties to Kentucky from his prep and collegiate playing days, but he’s also been a successful head coach at Western Kentucky.”
Horn, who spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach to Shaka Smart at Texas, was last a head coach in 2011-12, when he was fired by South Carolina after a 60-63 record over four seasons.
Horn, 46, spent the next three years as a college basketball analyst for ESPN and the SEC Network, but his plan was always to return to coaching.
“My goals haven’t changed,” Horn told the Herald-Leader’s Mark Story in 2014. “I still want to coach, still want to be a head coach.”
Horn earned the South Carolina head coaching job after posting five winning seasons at his alma mater, Western Kentucky University, where he led the Hilltoppers to a record of 111-48 and a pair of Sun Belt Conference championships from 2003-08. In 2007-08, Horn guided WKU to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16. Previously, he served as an assistant at Marquette and Morehead State.
As a player at WKU from 1991-95, Horn averaged 8.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game and finished with 1,115 career points and 139 steals. In high school, Horn helped lead Tates Creek to a state runner-up finish in 1991.
Horn takes over an NKU program in tip-top shape. In the last three years, the Norse have gone 72-30 overall and 40-14 in the Horizon League. During those three seasons, the Norse won two regular-season conference titles, two league tournament titles, and played in the NCAA Tournament twice and the NIT once.
NKU launched its men’s basketball program in 1971-72 and is 825-567 all-time but has only been in NCAA Division I for seven seasons.