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Rebels basketball:

Southern Utah hires UNLV interim coach Todd Simon


L.E. Baskow

UNLV interim head coach Todd Simon is animated while calling another play versus Fresno State during their Mountain West Championship second game at the Thomas & Mack Center on Thursday, March 10, 2016.

Updated Tuesday, March 22, 2016 | 4:01 p.m.

UNLV interim basketball coach Todd Simon will take over at Southern Utah, it was announced this afternoon. Simon was an assistant for two full seasons before taking over in January when Dave Rice was forced to resign.

Simon was one of the Rebels top recruiters and went 9-8 as UNLV’s interim coach, though he was 4-1 before Ben Carter went down for the season. Other injuries to Stephen Zimmerman Jr., Jerome Seagears and Dwayne Morgan, as well as a late-season suspension to Derrick Jones Jr., limited what Simon and the remaining staff could accomplish.

"My family and I are thankful for the opportunity to become the newest members of the SUU family,” Simon said in a statement. “We are eager to get ingrained into the SUU and Cedar City community. I could not be more excited for the opportunity ahead and look forward to bringing an exciting brand of basketball to the Centrum.”

Before joining Rice’s staff, Simon spent seven years at Findlay Prep, including the last season as its head coach. His connection to the program was a big positive, but Simon had recruiting connections elsewhere, too, even bringing in top class of 2016 prospects Rawle Alkins and Thon Maker for recent official visits.

Alkins eventually committed to Arizona and Maker, who visited last week, is still undecided. Neither was ever expected to really pick UNLV — though Maker technically still could — but for Simon it further demonstrated his ability to sell himself and a program to talented prospects.

The fate of UNLV’s other two assistant coaches remains to be seen. Stacey Augmon has campaigned for the head-coaching position for more than a month, even as the search continues in other directions. And Ryan Miller has continued recruiting, including a recent visit to class of 2016 commit Jaylen Fisher, so it’s possible he could remain on UNLV’s staff under a new coach or take a similar position at another program.

Southern Utah, which competes in the Big Sky Conference, fired coach Nick Robinson two weeks ago. In four years under Robinson, the Thunderbirds went 28-90, including 5-24 this season.

"As we entered this process, we were focused on identifying a leader that could elevate this program into a consistent winner and Big Sky Championship contender. After conducting the search, I felt that Todd was the perfect fit to get us there,” SUU Athletics Director Jason Butikofer said in a statement. “His ability to connect with and move student athletes to their potential and recruit both the West Coast, internationally and beyond will be extremely valuable assets as we look to quickly move this program to new heights.”

Taylor Bern can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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