Chris Beard is an American college basketball coach. He was hired as the University of Texas head coach in April 2020. He was previously the head man at the University of Texas at Arlington and Little Rock, leading them to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in his four seasons there.
Beard began his college basketball career as an assistant coach at Seminole Community College in 1995. He then moved on to the University of South Florida as an assistant coach in 1997. While at South Florida, Beard served as an assistant coach for two seasons on the Bulls’ staff. He then landed a job as an associate head coach at McNeese State University under former NBA player and coach Billy Tubbs in 1999.
Beard’s career wasn’t confined to just the college game. He also had a successful tenure as an NBA Development League coach, winning the Coach of the Year award in 2006–07. He was hired by the Texas Legends, an NBA D-League team, and was the head coach for four seasons. Under Beard’s direction, the Legends posted a winning record every season, three division titles, and back-to-back playoff appearances.
Beard returned to the college ranks, joining Pat Knight’s staff at Lamar for the 2011–12 season. After three seasons at Lamar, Beard was hired as the head coach at Arkansas Little Rock in April 2014. During his 4-year tenure with the Trojans, Beard compiled a 79-55 record and led them to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in 2015 and 2016.
It was not until Beard was hired at the University of Texas in 2020 that the topic of his playing days in college came up. Beard had attended the University of Texas at Arlington, however he never played college basketball. It was reported that he practiced with the team early on, however was never a part of the roster.
Beard certainly has proven he is an able and successful coach. Regardless of not playing college basketball, his accomplishments both on and off the court have spoken volumes. He has more than made up for his lack of court time in school and has been able to transfer into a successful career.
Stories and Quotes From Former Players
Some of Beard’s former players have spoken fondly of their time under his tutelage. Kevon Harris, who played for Beard at Little Rock, said, “He was somebody very special to our team, someone who had been in the college basketball system for a really long time and had a very successful career for himself. His guidance and the way he taught us basketball was incredible and was the reason why we had the success we did.”
Even though Beard was unable to play college basketball, he certainly was instrumental in pushing his players toward achieving their basketball dreams. Harris notes, “He used that experience as a way to motivate and inspire us every day. He taught us what it was like to work hard, to stay humble and to never give up. He would often tell us stories of his own experiences and then relate them to what we were doing on the court.”
Beard’s Impact on the Game
Beard’s impact on the college basketball game has been immense. While at Little Rock, Beard built up the Trojans brand and elevated the program from obscurity to a position of success and respect. He compiled a 79-55 overall record in four seasons as head coach, taking the Trojans to two NCAA tournament appearances, including one to the Sweet 16 in 2016.
Beard has showed an ability to recruit and develop up and coming talent, often looking to areas that are often overlooked. He has produced NBA draft picks and top-flight college players everywhere he has gone.
Beard has also been praised for his ability to develop young professionals on and off the court. Players flock to Beard for his basketball acumen, but also the lessons he teaches through life. Harris offers, “He was very detailed both on and off the court, and he instilled the idea that our education was the most important thing we had. So he was very attentive to our grades and forced us to be in class on time. He was really about our overall development and not just as basketball players but developing us as young men.”
Beard’s Effect on the Recruiting Trail
Beard has become a must-win on the recruiting trail. With Beard’s name now linked strongly to the University of Texas’ basketball brand, high school recruits have been more interested in the school. Players are more eager to come play under one of the best and most innovative coaches in the game.
Beard’s contacts span all levels of the college game, and he has been able to attract and keep some of the top college basketball talent in the country. He has a penchant for getting the most out of his players and maximising the potential of his teams.
With Beard now at the helm of the Texas Longhorns program, the school and the state of Texas have been elated. They see Beard and the Longhorns as a combination that will take the Texas Basketball program to a new and unprecedented level. As Beard enters his first season, the eyes of Texas basketball fans will be firmly fixed on the progress of their team.
Reaction from the basketball community
The reaction to the hiring of Beard from the college basketball community has been overwhelmingly positive. National analysts, former coaches, and NBA players have all applauded the move. Former Texas Tech coach and current ESPN analyst Tim Welsh said of Beard, “He’s one of the best young coaches in the game, and he was ready for the next challenge. He’ll be great at Texas.”
The hiring of Beard has been viewed by many as a sign of the Longhorns’ commitment to greatness. Former NBA player and coach Avery Johnson said, “Hiring Chris Beard is the perfect move for the University of Texas. He’s a coach who is open to learning and innovation and is willing to put in the hard work to be successful. He’s the perfect fit for the Longhorns.”
Beard quickly got to work, hitting the recruiting trail and establishing relationships with players and coaches. He has been lauded for his player development tactics and for making thoughtful decisions. The Longhorns and college basketball as a whole has taken notice and are expecting great things from Beard in the future.
Chris Beard is a great addition to the college basketball coaching ranks and to the University of Texas in particular. He has a proven track record of success and the capabilities to elevate the Longhorns to a higher level. His ability to recruit, develop players, and make impactful decisions has garnered praise from all levels of the basketball community.