UNLV men’s basketball head coach T.J. Otzelberger announced his coaching staff Friday as Tim Buckley, Kevin Kruger and DeMarlo Slocum have all been hired as assistants for the Runnin’ Rebels.
All three assistant coaches come to UNLV with experience at the highest levels, including at Power 5 institutions and in the NBA, with a proven track record of developing student-athletes and advancing in the NCAA Tournament.
“I am extremely pleased with the coaches that we recruited to join our program,” Otzelberger said. “Each one has top-notch experience at schools that have made multiple NCAA Tournament appearances and they are all experts in player development. Tim, Kevin and DeMarlo embody the attributes that we will look for in recruits and understand the work that is necessary to elevate the Runnin’ Rebel program.”
Buckley, who has served as a scout with the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves for the last two years, was previously at Indiana under Tom Crean as an assistant coach before being promoted to associate head coach. During his nine years in Bloomington (2008-17), the Hoosiers were nationally ranked, won Big Ten championships, made multiple NCAA Tournament runs, recruited McDonald’s All-Americans and developed All-Americans who went on the NBA, including 2013 National Player of the Year Victor Oladipo.
Prior to his time at Indiana, Buckley was an assistant coach at Marquette (2007-08), also under Crean, and was an assistant coach at Iowa (2006-07) under Steve Alford. He also has head coaching experience as he led Ball State for six seasons (2000-06). Additionally, he was the top assistant coach on Crean’s first Marquette staff (1999-00) and prior to that spent five seasons at Ball State as an assistant coach and one as an assistant coach at Wisconsin (1993-94). His collegiate coaching career began at Bemidji State as an assistant coach before he moved on to Rockford where he was an assistant before becoming the head coach.
Buckley played collegiately at Waubonsee Community College in Illinois and then at Bemidji State, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Kruger, who was the point guard on UNLV’s 2007 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 team as a senior under his father, former Runnin’ Rebel head coach and current Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger, returns to Las Vegas after spending the last three years as an assistant coach for the Sooners. With Kevin on the staff, Oklahoma made multiple NCAA Tournament appearances.
Kruger was also an assistant coach at Northern Arizona for two seasons (2014-16) following a year as a graduate assistant at Oklahoma. Prior to making the move into coaching, he played professionally from 2007-13. He began his collegiate playing career at Arizona State, where he earned his degree in 2006, before transferring to UNLV. He then earned a master’s from Oklahoma in 2017.
Slocum, a Las Vegas native, comes to UNLV after serving as an assistant coach at Utah for the past eight years, which included multiple NCAA Tournaments and a total of seven postseason appearances. He was also instrumental in the development of three NBA First Round Draft Picks while at the Pac-12 school. He is an Eldorado High School graduate and former head coach of the Las Vegas Prospects AAU team.
Prior to his time at Utah, Slocum spent four years as an assistant coach at Colorado State and was at Idaho as an assistant coach for one year before that. He previously served as an assistant coach at Dixie State and Director of Basketball Operations at USC.
Slocum played at Dixie State and then at Georgia Southern, where he earned his degree in 2001. He went on to earn a master’s from Grand Canyon in 2016.