BOSTON, Mass. - South Carolina head men's basketball coach Darrin Horn is one of 10 finalists announced on Monday for the 2009 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award. The award is given annually to the nation's top coach, as voted by a 20-member panel. The winner will be presented with the award at the 2009 NCAA Final Four in Detroit.
Horn is in his first season at the helm of the South Carolina men's basketball program after five successful seasons as the head coach at his alma mater, Western Kentucky. Horn has led the Gamecocks to a season of historic merit during his first year in Columbia. Carolina currently sits in a tie for first place in the SEC East, has earned its first 20-win season since the 2005-06 campaign and looks to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2003-04 campaign.
Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon, who received mid-season Phelan Award honors, headlines a group, that includes two coaches in their first seasons at their respective schools in Horn and LSU head coach Trent Johnson. The remaining seven finalists are Jim Calhoun (Connecticut), John Calipari (Memphis), Lorenzo Romar (Washington), Bill Self (Kansas), Brad Stevens (Butler), Bruce Weber (Illinois) and Roy Williams (North Carolina).
"This is an outstanding group of coaches," said Jim Phelan, who is the chairman of the award committee. "Every one of the coaches on the list is deserving of coach of the year honors."
Prior to 2003 the award was known simply as the CollegeInsider.com National Coach of the Year. It was renamed to honor longtime Mount St. Mary's head coach Jim Phelan, who retired following the 2002-03 season. The previous winners of the award are Bo Ryan (Wisconsin) 2008, Tony Bennett (Washington State) 2007, Ben Howland (UCLA) 2006, Tubby Smith (Kentucky) 2005, Phil Martelli (St. Joseph's) 2004 and Mark Slonaker (Mercer) 2003.