A veteran of more than 40 years in college basketball, former Arizona State and Mississippi head coach Rob Evans has joined Tony Benford and the North Texas coaching staff an associate head coach.
As a head coach, Evans led six of his 14 teams to postseason bids, and owns a 205-201 overall record in helping to rebuild the ASU and Ole Miss programs. Evans comes to North Texas after four years as an assistant at Arkansas followed by a one-year stay at TCU in 2012.
The move to North Texas reunites Evans and Benford, who share a 30-plus year friendship in basketball. Evans recruited Benford to play at Texas Tech, and later the duo coached the Sun Devils together for eight seasons (1998-06) – the last two of which saw Benford promoted to associate head coach. In 2003, Arizona State recorded its first 20-win season since 1995, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. ASU also qualified for the NIT in 2000, 2002 and 2005.
“We are very fortunate to have a coach of the caliber of Rob Evans joining our program,” Benford said. “He has been my mentor for years, and his success in over four decades of college basketball speaks for itself. Rob Evans is one of the most respected coaches in the nation on and off the floor, and I couldn’t be more excited to be working with him again.”
At Ole Miss, Evans took over a program with just one winning season in the previous nine years and only one NCAA Tournament bid in its history. He led the Rebels to a 14-13 mark in 1994 during his second season, marking the program's first winning season in seven years, followed by SEC Western Division titles and back-to-back NCAA Tournament bids for the first time in 1997 and 1998. The consecutive 20-win seasons were the first for Ole Miss since 1937 and 1938. Evans was named SEC Coach of the Year and CollegeInsider.com National Coach of the Year in 1997.
He led the Rebels to a pair of SEC Western Division titles and NCAA Tournament bids before guiding ASU to postseason tournament appearances in three of his last five years.
“I have a tremendous amount of affection and respect for Tony Benford and what he has started at North Texas, I couldn’t be more excited to be on board,” Evans said. “We have shared a tremendous relationship ever since I recruited him to play for Texas Tech, and when he was a part of my staff at Arizona State and that continues today now that he is one of the best and brightest up-and-coming coaches in the business. My wife, Carolyn, and I are really looking forward to moving to Denton and getting started.”
From 2007-11 Evans served as an assistant at Arkansas. Among the highlights during his tenure with the Razorbacks included reaching the finals of the SEC Tournament and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in his first season with the program in 2008.
The Hobbs, N.M., native was a collegiate assistant for 24 years before taking over the Ole Miss program. He was an assistant to Eddie Sutton at Oklahoma State in 1991 and 1992 after spending 15 years at Texas Tech (1976-90). He started his coaching career by spending seven seasons under Lou Henson at New Mexico State (1969-75), his alma mater.
As an assistant at New Mexico State, Evans helped the Aggies earn four NCAA Tournament bids in seven years with a trip to the Final Four in 1970. He also coached the freshman teams to a combined record of 90-15 during his tenure. Eight of his teams at Texas Tech won 17 or more games with three Southwest Conference Tournament titles and three NCAA Tournament bids, while Oklahoma State reached the Sweet 16 both years with Evans on staff.
Evans was a standout athlete prior to his time on the sidelines. He was the first All-American at Lubbock Christian College in 1966 before moving on to New Mexico State, where he captained the Aggies to a pair of NCAA Tournament berths. NMSU's 1967 team lost to Elvin Hayes and Houston in the NCAA Tournament, while the 1968 squad beat Dick Motta and Weber State before falling to eventual national champion UCLA and Lew Alcindor.
A multi-sport star, Evans was drafted out of high school by the Colt 45s, which eventually became the Houston Astros. Following college, he signed as a free agent with the Dallas Chaparrals of the American Basketball Association and with the Oakland Raiders as a receiver.
Evans, who was selected NMSU's most outstanding athlete in 1967 and has been named to the school's all-time basketball team, was inducted into the Aggie Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993. In 1991, he was elected by his peers to be president of the National Association of Assistant Basketball Coaches, was inducted into the Lubbock Christian Hall of Fame in 1990, the Las Cruces, N.M., Hall of Fame in 1989, presented the Texas Tech Outstanding Achievement Award for 1986-87 and selected as NMSU's School of Education Alumnus of the Year in 1994.