Todd Golden (center) sits on the bench during the University of San Francisco Dons’ basketball game on jan. 12, 2019 against No. 5 Gonzaga at War Memorial Gym in San Francisco, Calif. (Courtesy / Chris M. Leung / USF Dons Athletics)

USF Dons hire Todd Golden to replace Kyle Smith as head men’s basketball coach

Top Kyle Smith assistant Todd Golden becomes 20th head coach in Dons history

The University of San Francisco and new athletic director Joan McDermott have decided to name Todd Golden as the school’s new head men’s basketball coach, sources confirmed with the Examiner on Wednesday evening.

Golden, 33, takes over for his mentor, Kyle Smith, who has, according to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, agreed to a six-year deal to take over as the head men’s basketball coach at Washington State, a deal reportedly worth $1.4 million per year.

“He brings an energy and enthusiasm to the game that is contagious,” McDermott said of Golden. “His involvement the last three years was paramount in helping Kyle Smith move this program in the right direction. He’s been the primary recruiter for the Dons while he’s been with us on the Hilltop and promoting him was the logical choice to ensure a smooth transition. Kyle left a great legacy and now it is Todd’s time to take our program to the next level.”

Smith coached the Dons to 63 wins in his three seasons in San Francisco, winning at least 20 games in each of his first three seasons — something no coach had ever done in program history. Golden has been Smith’s top assistant for each of those seasons, and as Smith’s defensive coordinator, presided over the three best defensive seasons the program has had dating back to 2001, according to KenPom.com.

“Todd is super talented, and a hard worker,” said Smith, who coached Golden at St. Mary’s during his 10-year stint as Randy Bennett’s top assistant. “His profile fits what will be successful in this league. He’s played in this league, coached in this league, and coached at a high major level. If you look at the profiles of the guys who have succeeded in the WCC, the Mark Fews, Randy Bennetts, Dan Monsons, etc., Todd fits that profile. He was a player for five years at a very successful program and was a big reason for our run to the Sweet-16 at Saint Mary’s. I have no doubt he will be a success as a head coach.”

Before Golden came to San Francisco to serve as Smith’s associate head coach, defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator, he served as the director of basketball operations at Auburn under Bruce Pearl, and was an assistant coach with the Tigers, handling their guards and scheduling, as well as analytics.

Before Auburn, Golden spent the 2013-14 season as an assistant coach on Smith’s staff at Columbia, where he helped the Lions to a 21-13 mark and a spot in the CollegeInsiders.com Tournament. That season, he worked closely with the Lions’ defense that held opponents to a stingy 63.3 points per game, which ranked second-best in the Ivy League and 31st nationally. He also served as director of basketball operations for Columbia during the 2012-13 season.

“I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity Todd has here at USF,” said Golden State Warriors assistant general manager Kirk Lacob. “I’ve known him for a number of years and have really enjoyed getting to know him. First and foremost, he’s a tremendous person, but he also has an incredible basketball mind. As a first time head coach he’s very prepared. Working under Kyle Smith, under Coach Pearl, playing the game professionally and as a collegiate player at Saint Mary’s he brings an invaluable perspective to USF.”

As a senior point guard with the Gaels, Golden ranked second in the nation with a 3.68 assists-to-turnovers ratio and led the West Coast Conference with a 57.4 3-point field goal percentage. The captain of Saint Mary’s 2007-08 team, Golden finished his career as the Gaels’ all-time leader in free-throw percentage (85.2 percent) and eighth with 269 career assists.

After earning his degree in business administration at St. Mary’s, Golden played two years professionally for Maccabi Haifa in Israel’s top division. In 2009, he was co-captain of the USA Open Team, coached by Pearl, that won gold at the Maccabiah Games.

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