Mar 18, 2023

🏀 MBB: Former Blue Dragon player and coach named head coach at UT-Arlington

Posted Mar 18, 2023 3:59 PM
KT Turner.jpg
KT Turner.jpg

Courtesy of

ARLINGTON – Bringing nearly 20 years of collegiate coaching experience ranging from Texas junior college to currently the University of Kentucky, former UT Arlington men’s basketball student-athlete KT Turner has been named the 10th full-time head coach in program history.

Turner, 44, is an assistant coach with Kentucky – hired by John Calipari to keep the Wildcats’ Texas recruiting flowing – and that has come on the heels of one season each as an associate head coach at Oklahoma (2021-22) and Texas (2020-21).

Prior to his time in Austin, Turner – whose first name is Kenneth – spent seven years on the SMU sidelines from 2013-20, the last four of which were in an associate head coaching role. In 2012-13, Turner was an assistant coach for Wichita State, helping the Shockers post a 30-9 record and reach the Final Four – the first for the program since 1965.

Turner helped guide one of the sport’s blueblood programs in Kentucky to another 20-win campaign this year and a record 60th NCAA Tournament appearance. The No. 6-seeded Wildcats are set to face No. 11-seeded Providence in the First Round on Friday night at 6:10 CT on CBS.


Out of respect for Kentucky’s on-going NCAA Tournament journey, any media inquiries will be addressed following the end of the Wildcats’ season – at which point a formal press conference introducing Turner will take place at the College Park Center.


After playing his freshman and sophomore seasons (1997-99) at Hutchinson Community College, Turner transferred to UTA following the 1999 fall semester and was eligible to compete for the Mavs at the conclusion of the 2000 fall semester. However, in advance of the 2000-01 season, Turner dislocated his ankle which forced him to miss the entire year. He eventually transferred to Oklahoma City University for his senior campaign in 2001-02.


Turner was part of an Oklahoma program last season under the guidance of first-year head coach Porter Moser that won 19 games and advanced to the NIT Second Round.

During his one year with Texas in 2020-21, the Longhorns amassed a 19-8 overall record, won the Big 12 Championship and earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Turner was instrumental in the development of Kai Jones, who was named the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year.

Turner also oversaw the Longhorns’ defense, which led the Big 12 in field-goal percentage defense (40.8), 3-point percentage defense (31.7), rebounds (38.4) and defensive rebounding (27.6). Additionally, he served as the acting head coach for several games during the COVID-impacted campaign.


With SMU from 2013-20, the Mustangs accumulated a 160-71 record, won a pair of American Athletic Conference regular-season titles and two AAC Tournament championships. He also helped guide the Mustangs to two NCAA Tournament appearances (2015, 2017), the NIT Final (2014) and a national ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 in four of seven seasons, climbing as high as #8 in 2015-16. Turner spent three seasons under the tutelage of Basketball Hall of Fame Coach Larry Brown before working for Tim Jankovich during his final four years.

Three times a Mustang player earned AAC Player of the Year with Turner on staff (Nic Moore in 2014-15 and 2015-16, and Semi Ojeleye in 2016-17). SMU players garnered 15 all-AAC selections, which were the most by any school in the league during that time. Turner also helped coach three NBA Draft selections in Ojeleye, Sterling Brown and Shake Milton – the brother of former UTA Lady Mav Terryn Milton, who helped lead them to the 2022 NCAA Tournament.


During Wichita State’s Final Four in 2013, the No. 9-seeded Shockers defeated Pittsburgh in the First Round and No. 1 seed Gonzaga in the Second Round to reach the Sweet 16. Once there, the Shockers knocked off upstart La Salle and No. 2 seed Ohio State to advance to the semifinals.


Turner got his coaching start at Panola College in Carthage, Texas, where he served as the assistant coach in 2005-06. He also spent time in the JUCO ranks as an assistant coach at Redlands Community College (2006-07), Cowley College (2008-09) and Hutchinson Community College (2009-11), in addition to Division-I stops at Northern Arizona (2007-08) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (2011-12).

While at Hutchinson, Turner helped the Blue Dragons post a 53-13 overall record, and they reached the NJCAA Division I Region VI semifinals in both of his years. At Cowley, the Tigers posted a 29-5 record, shared the Jayhawk Conference Eastern Division Championship, appeared in the NJCAA Division I Region VI title game and ended the year ranked #17 in the nation.

In Turner’s first D-I coaching role at NAU in 2007-08, the Lumberjacks registered a 21-11 record and finished 2nd in the Big Sky Conference with an 11-5 mark.


In his first two years at Hutchinson, Turner earned all-conference honors while playing under Jankovich. He culminated his career at Oklahoma City, helping the Stars claim the Sooner Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles and advance to the NAIA quarterfinals.

Turner earned his degree in criminal justice from Oklahoma City in 2003, and had a brief playing career in Italy before getting into coaching.


A Cincinnati native who grew up in Manhattan, Kan., and graduated from Manhattan High School, Turner and his wife, Cassaundra, have three children: Kelis (17; pronounced: kuh-LEASE), Kenny (13) and Kendra (9).

Turner’s late father, Ken, coached at Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Cincinnati, Mississippi, South Alabama and Ohio State, in addition to stops at both the junior college and NAIA levels.


Turner’s first name is Kenneth, but when he was playing in high school the local newspaper continuously referred to him as KT. As much as he tried to get away from it, ‘it stuck with me forever’ as Turner has stated.

When he became a coach in the mid-2000s, he tried to re-birth the Kenneth name by referring to himself as ‘Ken’ Turner – including putting it on his voicemail. However, Tim Duryea – Turner’s assistant coach while playing at Hutchinson, and current Boise State assistant – called and told him to keep the KT name, and the rest is history.


As A Coach

  1. 2005-06: Panola College (Assistant)
  2. 2006-07: Redlands Community College (Assistant)
  3. 2007-08: Northern Arizona (Assistant)
  4. 2008-09: Cowley College (Assistant)
  5. 2009-11: Hutchinson Community College (Assistant)
  6. 2011-12: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Assistant)
  7. 2012-13: Wichita State (Assistant)
  8. 2013-16: SMU (Assistant)
  9. 2016-20: SMU (Associate)
  10. 2020-21: Texas (Associate)
  11. 2021-22: Oklahoma (Associate)
  12. 2022-23: Kentucky (Assistant)
  13. 2023-: UT Arlington (Head)

As A Player

  1. 1997-99: Hutchinson Community College
  2. 1999-2001: UT Arlington
  3. 2001-02: Oklahoma City University


  1. Born: August 23, 1978 (44)
  2. Education: Oklahoma City University, 2003 (Criminal Justice)
  3. Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
  4. Raised: Manhattan, Kan.
  5. Wife: Cassaundra
  6. Children: Kelis (17; pronounced: kuh-LEASE), Kenny (13) and Kendra (9)