LAWTON – Cameron Athletics and athletic director Jim Jackson announced the hiring of Kevin O’Connor to take over the Aggie men’s basketball program as head coach on Wednesday.
O’Connor becomes the 32nd head coach in program history, trading in one Aggie program for another, coming to CU from Murray State College, where he spent five seasons as the head coach.
“I’m excited to get the chance to take over the Cameron men’s basketball program,” O’Connor said. “First steps are just meeting with the team, evaluating the roster, and then hitting the recruiting trail. We want to start off by establishing what I think is important and instilling that culture by getting good kids that love to play the game the right way and are tough and can shoot the rock.”
MSC went from 10 wins during O’Connor’s first year to 25 wins during his third and 21 last season; both years he was named NJCAA Region II Coach of the Year. In 2019-20, the Aggies finished second in NJCAA Region II play and won the NJCAA region II Tournament Championship for the first time since 1969.
“Our success at Murray State came from a lot of things but one was recruiting Oklahoma. That’s what we want to do here establish recruiting connection in state and then recruit the junior college ranks as well. Being in Region II the past five seasons I have a lot of respect for those programs and coaches, so we want to recruit that league each year. It is going to be important to turn our record around as quickly as we can, but in doing so we want to do it the right way with players who are respectful, engaged with the community, and care about getting their education here.”
Prior to MSC, O’Connor was an assistant coach with Arizona Western College from 2015-2017 and spent two seasons as the graduate assistant for Bruce Weber at Kansas State University, where he earned his Master of Science in Academic Advising in 2015. He spent his college years as a student manager for the University of Illinois men’s basketball team under Weber, earning his Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology in 2012.
“I think (the Lone Star Conference) is the best conference in Division II. While intimidating, it is also encouraging, getting six teams into the National Tournament this season. That ultimately going to be our big picture goal, but how we get there is getting the right players in here and then working on getting better one day at a time and if we can do that consistently we will like where the program is heading.”
O’Connor takes over an Aggie program that has a storied tradition of success but has not had a winning season since 2016-17 and has missed out on the Lone Star Conference Tournament the past three seasons.
“I don’t think I get to this point in my career to all the players that helped us reach success at Murray State and my two assistant coaches Joel Plummer and Andrew Poulter, because without the hard work of them I don’t think I would have gotten this opportunity. I loved my time at MSC… Justin Cellum (former MSC athletic director) gave me chance as a young coach and I just want to make sure I thank everyone at Murray State for preparing me for this opportunity to be the head coach at Cameron.”