August 20, 2019 Currently: 100° | Complete forecast

Kevin Kruger returning to UNLV as assistant coach

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Point guard Kevin Kruger looks for dribbling room against Oregon during the 2007 Sweet 16.

UNLV will have a very familiar — and popular — face on the sideline next season, as Kevin Kruger has been added to T.J. Otzelberger’s coaching staff.

Kruger, 35, spent the last three years as an assistant at Oklahoma under his father, former UNLV head coach Lon Kruger. Before that, Kevin Kruger started his coaching career with a two-year stint at Northern Arizona.

As a player, Kruger logged three years at Arizona State before transferring to UNLV in 2006 to play under his father. That 2006-07 season forever endeared Kruger to Rebels fans, as the point guard posted 13.5 points and 5.1 assists per game while leading UNLV to a Mountain West championship. He then put up 12.0 points and 6.3 assists in the NCAA tournament as the Rebels made a run to the Sweet 16.

With that kind of history at UNLV, Kruger’s addition should have 100 percent approval from Rebels fans.

Kruger said the opportunity to join Otzelberger at UNLV was the right situation.

“It feels good to be back home and back at the alma mater, and also being part of what coach O has got going,” Kruger said. “I’ve always had a lot of respect for him and how his teams play, and I think a lot of what he’s doing is very similar to the basketball I’ve been around, so I think the transition will be smooth.”

With Kruger on staff, Oklahoma qualified for the last two NCAA tournaments. The Sooners lost in the first round as a No. 10 seed in 2018, then beat Ole Miss as a No. 9 seed this season before losing in the second round.

Kruger said he is eager to get to Las Vegas and get started.

“Hopefully as soon as possible,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to contain the excitement of being back home and getting involved in a community that was so good to us and so good to me, personally.”

As for Lon Kruger, the last coach to win an NCAA tournament game at UNLV? Kevin Kruger said his father understood his decision to leave Oklahoma for the Runnin’ Rebels.

“He was excited for me. He knows Las Vegas has always had a special place in my heart, so he’s excited for the opportunity for me.”

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at twitter.com/mikegrimala.

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