Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Monday, July 1, 2013 | 1:30 p.m.
Updated Monday, July 1, 2013 | 10:20 p.m.
UNLV basketball coach Dave Rice didn’t have to look far for an assistant coach to fill out his staff.
Todd Simon, the head coach at national high school powerhouse Findlay Prep in Henderson, is returning to UNLV to take the position vacated when Justin Huston left in April for San Diego State.
Simon spent two years as the Rebels’ video coordinator under Lon Kruger before leaving in 2006 for Findlay Prep.
Over the past six years at Findlay Prep, the Pilots have a 193-9 record, finishing 35-1 last season after losing in the semifinals ESPN National High School Invitational. The setback snapped a 54-game winning streak.
"He brings head coaching experience and tremendous success at the prep school level," Rice said in a statement. "Coach Simon has a strong background at UNLV having been part of Lon Kruger's staff for two seasons, while working towards his master’s degree. Todd has a tremendous work ethic and will be terrific complement to our staff in all areas.”
Simon was Findlay Prep’s assistant coach until last season when Mike Peck left for an position in the NBA D-League. Simon, however, was more than an assistant — he was Peck’s right hand man and instrumental in helping attract the world’s top high school players to Henderson. They won three ESPN National High School championship in the past five years, finishing in the top-5 of every major ranking.
The program has produced seven McDonald’s All-Americans over the past four years, including former Rebel Anthony Bennett. Bennett, of course, was the first pick in last week's NBA Draft — the second former Findlay player taken in the lottery and fifth overall to be selected.
Each Findlay player advances to college basketball, and most to high-level programs. Findlay proudly boosts that each players is a Division-I qualifier, which is something Simon, who in 2010 received his Master’s Degree from UNLV, had a direct hand in.
Leaving Findlay Prep was a decision that wasn't easy for Simon. But after much debate, rejoining the UNLV program was a no-brainer.
"UNLV’s success under Coach Rice over the past two seasons is well respected on a national scale," Simon said in a statement. "Being part of a university that I graduated from, working in a city I have a passion for, and in a role of helping develop student-athletes is a tremendous opportunity.”