McGill grad O’Neill appointed coach of USC Trojans


Published: 21Jun2009

LOS ANGELES  –  Kevin O’Neill, who once played for the McGill University Redmen in the mid-1970s and later coached the National Basketball Association’s Toronto Raptors in 2004-05, has been appointed head basketball coach of the University of Southern California Trojans.


The 52-year-old native of Chateaugay, N.Y., brings 13 years of head coaching experience at the collegiate and pro levels, plus another 17 years as an assistant coach, including stints with the NBA’s New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers and most recently, the Memphis Grizzlies, where he spent the 2008-09 season as a coach and special assistant to the general manager.


O’Neill earned a master’s degree in secondary education from Marycrest in 1983, preceded by a bachelor’s degree in education from McGill in 1979, where he was a three-year letterman for the Redmen from 1975-78, part of a team that registered a 52-35 (.598) record in that span.  In 1977-78, the Redmen squad posted a school-record 28 wins overall and advanced to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championship tournament.


“I’m very excited about this opportunity to coach at such a great institution as USC, with its tremendous athletic and academic tradition,” said O’Neill. “I appreciate (athletic director) Mike Garrett’s confidence in me. I will work my hardest to coach us to a championship level every single day. I can’t wait to get started.”


O’Neill takes over for Tim Floyd, who resigned on June 9 after four seasons at USC. The Trojans won at least 20 games and made the NCAA tourney in each of the last three seasons, both school records.


“We’re thrilled to have Kevin O’Neill as our men’s basketball coach,” said Garrett. “Kevin is the consummate coach. He knows his Xs and Os, he’s an excellent recruiter and he is very in tune with the academic side of a player’s collegiate experience. His 30 years of experience at the college and professional levels has prepared him well for this opportunity. I love his coaching philosophy and principles: he’s a no-nonsense coach who is very detail-oriented and prepares his teams well. He stresses defence and I’ve always believed that defence wins championships.”


O’Neill began his NCAA Division I collegiate head coaching career at Marquette, where he went 86-62 (.581) in five seasons (1990-94), was named Great Midwest Conference coach of the year in both 1993 and 1994 and was featured in the 1994 Oscar-nominated documentary, “Hoop Dreams.”


He was Tennessee’s head coach for three years (1995-97), moved on to Northwestern for three seasons (1998-2000), then went to the NBA as an assistant coach, spending 2001 with the New York Knicks and then two seasons (2002-03) with the Detroit Pistons, a team that was regarded among the NBA’s premier defensive squads.


He served as the Toronto Raptors’ head coach in 2004, posting a 33-49 record, then spent the next three years (2005-07) with the Indiana Pacers, the first two as an assistant and the third as a consultant. O’Neill was named interim head coach at Arizona for the 2008-09 season when Lute Olson took a leave of absence. His Wildcats went 19-15 and made the NCAA tourney.


O’Neill’s coaching career began in 1979-80 as the head coach at Central High School in Hammond, N.Y.  He jumped to the junior college ranks a year later, organizing North County Community College program at Saranac Lake, N.Y. In 1983, he took the head coaching position at Marycrest College in Davenport, Iowa, and guided the Marauding Eagles to a 17-14 (.548) record. He then became an assistant coach at the University of Delaware (1983-85), Tulsa (1985-86) and Arizona (1986-89).


O’Neill was born on Jan. 24, 1957, in Malone, N.Y. His wife’s name is Roberta and he has a son, Sean (22).



The Kevin O’Neill Chronology



Born:  Jan. 24, 1957, in Malone, N.Y.

Hometown:  Chateaugay, N.Y.



Bachelor’s in Education, McGill University (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1979

Master’s in Secondary Education, Marycrest College (Davenport, Iowa), 1983


Playing Experience

Three-year letterman at McGill University, 1975-78

Helped Redmen achieve a 52-35 (.598) record in those three seasons, including a school-record 28-5 mark in 1977-78.  That season McGill also advanced to the CIS national championship tournament.


Coaching Experience

1979-80           Head Coach, Hammond High School, Hammond, N.Y.

1979-80:  15-6 (.714)


1980-82           Head Coach, North County Community College, Saranac Lake, N.Y.

1980-81:  5-13 (.278), first year of program

1981-82:  record unavailable, Team qualified for Region III jr college playoffs


1982-83           Head Coach, Marycrest College, Davenport, Iowa

1982-83:  17-14 (.548)


1983-85           Assistant Coach, University of Delaware, Newark, Del.

1983-84:  11-16 (.407)

1984-85:  12-16 (.429)


1985-86           Assistant Coach, University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Okla.

1985-86:  23-9 (.719), Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Champions, NCAA Tournament appearance


1986-89           Assistant Coach, University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz.

1986-87:  18-12 (.600), NCAA Tournament appearance

1987-88:  35-3 (.921), Pac-10 Regular Season and Tournament Champions, NCAA Final Four

1988-89:  29-4 (.879), Pac-10 Regular Season and Tournament Champions, NCAA Tournament



1990 Marquette 15-14 9-5 3rd NIT First Round

1991 Marquette 11-18 7-7 5th tie --

1992 Marquette 16-13 5-5 3rd tie --

1993 Marquette 20-8 6-4 NA NCAA First Round

1994 Marquette 24-9 10-2 1st NCAA Sweet Sixteen

5-Year Total 86-62 (.581) 37-23 (.617) Midwestern Collegiate/Great Midwest

1995 Tennessee 11-16 4-12 6th East --

1996 Tennessee 14-15 6-10 5th tie East NIT First Round

1997 Tennessee 11-16 4-12 6th East --

3-Year Total 36-47 (.434) 14-24 (.368) Southeastern

1998 Northwestern 10-17 3-13 9th tie --

1999 Northwestern 15-14 6-10 8th NIT First Round

2000 Northwestern 5-25 0-16 11th --

3-Year Total 30-56 (.349) 9-39 (.188) Big Ten

2004 Toronto Raptors 33-49 -- 6th Central --

1-Year Total 33-49 (.402)

2008 Arizona 19-15 (.559) 8-10 7th NCAA First Round

1-Year Total 19-15 (.559) 8-10 (.444) Pacific-10

12-Year Collegiate Total 171-180 (.487) 68-96 (.415)


Coaching Honors

1993 Great Midwest Conference Coach of the Year

1994 Great Midwest Conference Coach of the Year


Head Coaching Record (Career)

Level   Years   Record (Pct.)

HS       (1)       15-6 (.714)

Jr Coll (*2)     5-13 (.278)

NAIA   (1)       17-14 (.548)

NCAA  (12)     171-180 (.487)

NBA    (1)       33-49 (.402)

Totals  (17)     241-262 (.479)


* record unavailable for 1981-82 season



Earl Zukerman

Communications Officer

Athletics & Recreation

McGill University

Montreal, QC  H2W 1S4

514-398-7012 (Tel.)