By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — The Unviersity of Arkansas on Friday announced the hiring of Oklahoma associate head coach Chris Crutchfield, who has accepted the same position on Eric Musselman’s Razorbacks’ staff.
“We’re excited to have Coach Crutchfield on staff,” Musselman said. “He’s one of the best recruiters and coaches in the country as proven by the Sooners being a mainstay in the NCAA Tournament. He has worked for an all-time great coach in Lon Kruger. Coach Crutchfield and Coach (Corey) Williams will make a great team at the University of Arkansas.”
A source confirmed on Thursday that Crutchfield had notified Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger that he was accepting a position at Arkansas. Crutchfield has been serving as associate head coach at Oklahoma under Kruger for the past three seasons. He has been on the Sooners’ staff a total of eight seasons (2011-2019).
Crutchfield — a 24-year college coaching veteran — joins Williams (who was hired April 24) on a staff that Musselman plans to complete with an upcoming third assistant coaching hire. Musselman brought Anthony Ruta and Hays Myers with him from Nevada, and both are expected to be retained in administrative roles on the Hogs’ basketball staff.
Another source with knowledge of the hire said Williams and Crutchfield have been friends for years, which played a part in Arkansas reaching out to Crutchfield about the job.
Musselman’s vetting and interview processes have been thorough and extensive during his assistant coaching search, and the addition of Crutchfield signals a lot of checked boxes for Musselman and the Hogs: Long-tenured coach at the high-major college level, recruiter familiar with the region / footprint states, proven track-record of player development as a springboard to the next level (NBA), reputation as a player mentor, etc.
A Hopkinsville, KY, native who graduated from Nebraska-Omaha in 1992, Crutchfield has assistant coaching stops on his resume that include Oral Roberts, TCU, New Mexico State, and his alma mater Nebraska-Omaha.
He also served as head coach at Tyler (TX) Junior College for two seasons (1999-2001) — compiling an overall record of 35-28 — after two seasons as an assistant coach there.
According to his Oklahoma University bio, Crutchfield “was instrumental in the signing and subsequent mentoring of Buddy Hield and Trae Young. In his four years at Oklahoma, Hield was twice named the Big 12 Player of the Year (2015, 2016) and was crowned the national player of the year in 2016 before going on to be drafted as the sixth overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Young, the first five-star player to join the Sooners during the Kruger tenure, was a Consensus All-American, Wooden Award finalist and 2018 Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year. In November (2018), TheAthletic.com named (Crutchfield) to its list of 30 up-and-coming coaches to keep an eye on.”