El Paso, TX — Head Coach Tim Floyd named Bob Cantu to the UTEP basketball staff on Tuesday. Cantu will serve as assistant coach, taking the spot vacated by Greg Foster when he departed for a position with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers.
“After Greg left, it was easy to sort through candidates and find a guy that both [assistant coach] Phil Johnson and I are comfortable with,” Floyd said. “He is a very aggressive recruiter who will make sure we’re entrenched in the West. He was a big part of our success at USC and later handled himself real well as the head coach of the Trojans. He brings a great sense of familiarity with what we’re trying to do here, and that continuity is essential with practice starting on Oct. 1.”
“I am excited to join the UTEP Miner family,” Cantu said. “I really enjoyed working with Coach Floyd at USC for four years. We had a great run with some very good players. It is going to be fun to coach in El Paso where there is so much passion for basketball. I look forward to competing with the top teams out west for the best players.”
Cantu spent 12 seasons at USC as an assistant coach, associate head coach and most recently interim head coach. During that time the Trojans had four other head coaches, including Floyd from 2005-09. Cantu served as interim head coach for the final 15 games of the 2012-13 season, compiling a 7-8 record including wins at UCLA and over no. 11 Arizona at home. He was selected the Pac-12 Coach of the Week twice during his brief tenure as head coach.
Cantu was also USC’s interim head coach for a Pac-10 Tournament semifinal game versus no. 15 Arizona in 2011.
The team’s defensive strategist, he was instrumental in USC leading the nation in defensive efficiency during the 2009-10 season. The Trojans were also the Pac-10 leaders in field goal percentage defense during the 2007-08, 2009-10 and 2010-11 campaigns.
The native of Paso Robles, Calif. was involved with all facets of the USC basketball program and earned particularly high marks for his efforts on the recruiting trail. While organizing all aspects of recruiting, Cantu helped the Trojans assemble signing classes that were rated no. 1 nationally in 2007 (ESPN/Hoop Scoop), no. 7 in 2008 (Hoop Scoop), no. 5 in 2009 (Hoop Scoop) and no. 6 in 2010 (MaxPreps). USC also had a top-10 class in 2006 and a top-20 group in 2005, according to Hoop Scoop rankings.
While at USC Cantu recruited and/or coached 10 NBA players, including five who were selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. He was a part of five NCAA Tournament teams (including a berth in the Sweet 16 in 2007), the 2009 Pac-10 Tournament champions and a school-record three consecutive 20-win squads from 2007-09. USC set a school record with 25 wins during the 2006-07 season.
Prominent players that Cantu either coached or recruited include current pros Dewayne Dedmon (Golden State Warriors), Taj Gibson (Chicago Bulls), O.J. Mayo (Milwaukee Bucks), DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors), Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic) and Nick Young (L.A. Lakers).
Cantu was repeatedly named one of the nation’s top-20 assistant coaches by Foxsports.com and Hoop Scoop during a period from 2007-12, including the no. 2 assistant coach in the Pac-10 in 2010.
Prior to his stint in Los Angeles, Cantu was an assistant coach at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, Calif. (1997-2000) and Sacramento State University for one season (2000-01).
Cuesta College led the Western State Conference in team defense for three seasons with Cantu on staff. He also served as the Cougars’ head coach for three games. Cuesta College’s overall record was 65-37 during Cantu’s tenure with two Western State Conference titles (1998 & 1999) and three state playoff appearances. The college successfully placed 17 players in four-year universities with full scholarships, including 10 at the Division I level.
He started his professional career as a basketball administrative assistant at Cal Poly from 1996-97.
Cantu was a three-year varsity player at Paso Robles High School before graduating in 1992. He attended Cuesta College and Cal Poly before receiving his bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Chapman University in 1997.
He joins Assistant Director of Basketball Operations Konner Tucker as new additions to the UTEP staff. Floyd said he is closing in on naming a Director of Basketball Operations to replace Keith Wilkinson, who took an assistant coaching position at UC Riverside.