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Jeff Horner takes director of basketball operations job at North Dakota

[ 0 ] June 19, 2014 |

Jeff Horner is staying a step behind Dean Oliver yet again.

Not on the basketball court this time, but literally staying in Oliver’s basement as he transitions from high school to college coaching.

Horner, who resigned as West Des Moines Valley boys’ basketball coach on May 7, confirmed Thursday he will become the director of basketball operations at the University of North Dakota.

He’ll follow Oliver — the other former Mason City and Iowa guard — and join former Hawkeye assistant Brian Jones on the bench.

Jeff Horner confirmed Thursday that he'll become the new director of basketball operations at the University of North Dakota. (Bryon Houlgrave/The Register)

Jeff Horner confirmed Thursday that he’ll become the new director of basketball operations at the University of North Dakota. (Bryon Houlgrave/The Register)

Horner stepped down at Valley after four seasons, a 70-27 overall record and two state tournament appearances.

He’ll follow Oliver — the other former Mason City and Iowa guard — and join former Hawkeye assistant Brian Jones on the bench.

“It kind of seems like I’m following in Dean Oliver’s footsteps,” Horner said. “I think it’s more that we kind of have the same contacts in the coaching world. We just know all the same people. If I end up at Illinois State, though, I think he has something to worry about.”

Horner stepped down at Valley after four seasons, a 70-27 overall record and two state tournament appearances. Following April’s runner-up finish in the Class 4-A tournament, the 30-year-old felt ready to accept his next challenge.

“If I would have stayed at Valley a couple more years, I probably would have had to make the decision if I was going to be a high school coach forever or try to accomplish a goal of mine and become a Division I head coach,” Horner said. “The time was right.”

North Dakota became a full-time Division I program in the 2008-09 season and has built its program with former Hawkeyes. Fellow assistant Jason Shay was a 1995 Iowa grad who walked on for coach Tom Davis. Oliver joined the staff in 2011 and was hired away to Illinois State last month.

“Having coach Jones here was the big key,” Horner said. “To get into this world you have to know somebody, and he’s been very generous to me.”

Jones was an assistant in Iowa City for seven seasons, overlapping Oliver and Horner’s time in the backcourt. The four-year letter-winner at Northern Iowa joined Steve Alford as an administrative assistant at then-Southwest Missouri State in 1998.

UND has played in the Big Sky Conference for the past two seasons, finishing 17-17 overall this year. Oliver and assistant Gameli Ahelegbe have departed this offseason.

Horner accepted Valley’s coaching job in the summer of 2010, eight years after being named Iowa’s Mr. Basketball.

“He did a wonderful job for us,” Valley activities director Brad Rose said after Horner’s resignation.  “We were lucky to have him for four years. He’s rejuvenated our program. I wish him the best.”

Horner met with his Valley players more than a month ago to announce his departure, but couldn’t divulge where his next move would be. He has already made the move from West Des Moines to Grand Forks.

“It’s been difficult because everyone keeps asking, and I kept having to avoid the question,” Horner said. “I just want to thank Brad Rose and Valley. They gave me my first gig, and I’ll be forever grateful.”

 

Category: Hawkeye news, Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

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