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Craig Smith, who fortified Utah State, hired as Utah basketball coach

By Associated Press - | Mar 27, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — Craig Smith, who quickly turned Utah State into one of the nation’s best mid-major programs, was hired Saturday as Utah’s men’s basketball coach.

The Utes said Smith will replace Larry Krystkowiak, who was fired this month.

“Craig Smith brings incredible energy and passion, and a proven record of success,” Utah athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to have him lead our men’s basketball program, and look forward to our student-athletes experiencing his incredible work ethic, dedication to being a teacher of the game, and his ability to relate with his players and help them achieve their greatest potential.”

Smith led the the Aggies to the NCAA Tournament twice in three years. Utah State won the Mountain West Conference Tournament title in 2020, but didn’t get a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Utah State won the MWC Tournament again this season and won 20 games before losing 65-53 to Texas Tech in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Smith has been an adept recruiter in Logan, bringing in players like Portuguese big man Neemias Queta.

He previously coached four seasons at South Dakota before being hired by Utah State in 2018. Smith compiled a record of 74-24 at USU and is 225-108 in 10 years as a college head coach.

“After visiting with Mark, it became clear that our visions for Utah basketball were aligned,” Smith said in a statement. “This program has a rich tradition of excellence in the history of college basketball. Our facilities are state-of-the-art and first-class in every way. Our fan base has tremendous energy, knowledge and passion.”

Utah fired Krystkowiak on March 16 after he went 183-139 during 10 seasons in Salt Lake City.

Utah State athletic director John Hartwell thanked Smith for his work in a statement.

“(USU) is an extremely attractive job and we have already had tremendous interest from some very good coaches,” Hartwell said.


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