Kentucky assistant Orlando Antigua is the new head coach at South Florida, the school announced Monday.
The news was first reported by Jon Rothstein of CBSSports.com.
“I said from the beginning of this search, we were looking for a great leader, a great communicator, a proven record of being able to recruit and develop players, and someone who will represent USF with exceptional energy and integrity,” USF AD Mark Harlan said in a statement on the school’s website. “We have found all of that and more in Orlando Antigua. He has tremendous passion and a unique and exciting background that includes being a key participant in one of the most successful recent runs in the college game. His work as the head coach of the Dominican National Team is also extremely impressive. Orlando’s incredible personal story is a powerful testament to his drive and determination that will serve our program well.”
The school will hold a formal press conference to introduce Antigua on Tuesday in the Sun Dome Arena Club. Details on the press conference, which will be streamed live on GoUSFBulls.com, will be forthcoming.
“I would like to thank President Genshaft and Mark Harlan for this tremendous opportunity,” Antigua said. “I have been preparing for the challenge of leading a program my entire life and I have a deep belief and passion that USF basketball can thrive and is ideally positioned in a community as rich and diverse as the Tampa Bay area. I look forward to renewing my strong connections in the state of Florida and can’t wait to begin working towards our future success.”
The job was originally offered to Manhattan coach Steve Masiello, but that fell through when South Florida did a background check and discovered that Masiello had not graduated from Kentucky. Masiello has since been placed on leave at Manhattan.
Masiello was reportedly going to get a five-year deal worth $6.2 million at USF.
Antigua has been an assistant under John Calipari for five seasons, including the last four at Kentucky, where he helped Calipari recruit the No. 1 class in the nation four years running before this season. Prior to his stint with Calipari at Memphis, Antigua was an assistant for five years at his alma mater, Pittsburgh.
The move happens just as Kentucky is about to take on Wisconsin in the Final Four Saturday in North Texas, meaning Calipari will have a huge hole to fill on his staff after the Final Four. Antigua is expected to stay on through the Final Four, Rothstein reported.
“When this is done right, everyone involved should benefit from the success of the program,” Calipari said in a statement. “This includes the university as a whole, the athletic department, administrators, staff and especially the assistant coaches. They and their families deal with the brunt of the work. With that being said, I am so excited that Orlando has been hired by the University of South Florida.”
A Dominican native who was raised in The Bronx, Antigua last summer coached The Dominican Republic National Team, which featured incoming Kentucky pledge Karl-Anthony Towns of St. Joe’s Metuchen.
“Based on what he’s done with the Dominican Republic National Team as their head coach and his work with our family over the last five years at Kentucky and one season at Memphis, I have the utmost confidence in him to lead this program to new heights,” Calipari said. “My guess is they will do things that have never been done before at South Florida. We’re all going to miss him and his family after we finish this run.”
Photo: UK Athletics
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.