North Texas hires Marquette’s Benford

Marquette University’s Buzz Williams is losing his top assistant coach.

North Texas announced Tuesday that it will hire Golden Eagles associate head coach Tony Benford as its new head basketball coach. Benford, 48, is replacing Johnny Jones, who recently left for LSU.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to add Tony Benford to the strong group of coaches at the University of North Texas,” North Texas director of athletics Rick Villarreal said in a press release. “In this search we were looking for a set of traits that make up a great coach and a great person, and Tony Benford fit the bill.”

Benford reportedly will sign a five-year deal to coach the Mean Green.

“I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity of taking over the basketball program at North Texas,” Benford said in a release. “I would like to thank Rick Villarreal and President V. Lane Rawlins for this opportunity, and Johnny Jones for doing such a great job in making North Texas a winner. My philosophy is all about the players, and we will do everything (to) ensure that our players grow in the classroom, the community and on the court.”

An original member of Williams’ coaching staff at Marquette, Benford was promoted to associate head coach in 2011.

Prior to joining the Marquette staff, Benford served as an assistant coach at Nebraska, Arizona State and New Mexico.

Regarded as one of the top recruiters in the country, Benford has recruited and coached nine players who have gone on to be selected in the first or second round of the NBA Draft. 

Benford recruited Ike Diogu, Eddie House, Tommy Smith and Jeff Pendergraph while at Arizona State, Kenny Thomas and Charles Smith at New Mexico, and Wesley Matthews, Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler at Marquette.

North Texas finished 18-14 last season and is expected to be one of the top teams in the Sun Belt conference next season.