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Grant McCasland goes from part-time RA to Texas Tech coach
Grant McCasland’s journey back to Texas Tech basketball included coaching stops where he worked as a college resident assistant to make ends meet and the team’s bus driver. (Credit: Candice Ward/USA TODAY Sports)

Grant McCasland goes from part-time RA to Texas Tech coach

LUBBOCK, Texas (BVM) – Grant McCasland knows it isn’t easy to break into the Division I college basketball world –  neither as a coach nor a player. McCasland has always put hard work before anything and that has led him all the way back to Texas Tech where he was announced as the program’s head men’s basketball coach on Friday, 22 years after working as the team’s director of operations as a graduate student.

“The commitment and vision for Texas Tech has no limits and we look forward to loving our team every day with a greater purpose,” McCasland said in a school press release. “We will strive daily for excellence in every aspect of our program, do things the right way, winning championships that values relationships throughout. Our family looks forward to joining the Red Raider nation and can’t wait to get started in Lubbock.”

For McCasland, this position ends what has been a long, winding road back to Lubbock. While some coaches with less determination may have given up long ago, McCasland kept his head down and is now a Power 5 head coach in his home state.

But just because he made it doesn’t mean it’s been easy all the time. An under-sized high school player from Irving High School, the 5-foot-9 McCasland decided to walk onto the Baylor men’s basketball team. Though he was the last guy on the bench at the beginning of his career, McCasland would work his way into playing time by his senior season in 1998-99, which helped build his foundation of grit and effort to achieve his goals.

“It was just because I was willing to do things guys that were talented thought was beneath them,” McCasland told the Denton Record-Chronicle. “Take charges, box out every time or talk on defense every time — just those things that actually impact winning in a small way but proved I cared about the end result, not just my individual stats.”

This emotion stuck with the coach as he made his way up the coaching ladder. First, McCasland landed the role at Texas Tech, a far from glamorous job that helped him get his foot in the door as he pursued his graduate degree.

After two years in Lubbock, McCasland’s first on-court role came when he accepted an unpaid position as an assistant coach at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colorado. There he and his wife Cece, a fellow Texas Tech alumnus, worked as school resident assistants as well as other odd jobs for the team in order for the coach to continue pursuing his dreams.

“It was a lot of late nights and a lot of early mornings doing things that didn’t have anything to do with basketball,” McCasland continued. “I’m still close with some of the residence hall students at the time. It’s just neat because it reminds you that it is about relationships and making an impact.”

Following two seasons at Northeastern, McCasland finally earned his first head coaching position at Midland College back in Texas. Once again, McCasland was expected to do a little more work than an average head coach as he doubled as the team’s bus driver, but that didn’t stop him or his team from succeeding. Over five years at Midland, McCasland posted a 143-32 record and an .817 winning percentage while he led the Chaparrals to the 2007 National Junior College Athletic Association national championship.

From there, McCasland took on the head coaching role with Midwestern State where he went 56-12 and led MSU to back-to-back NCAA Division II Elite Eight appearances. After that role, McCasland returned to his alma mater Baylor to serve as an assistant coach under Scott Drew for five years.

With deeper experience of the D-I game, McCasland was hired as the head coach for Arkansas State for the 2016-17 season where he led the Red Wolves to a 20-12 record before landing at North Texas.

McCasland had a historic tenure with the Mean Green, where he helped the team win the 2018 College Basketball Invitational Championship, its first NCAA Tournament game in 2021, and the National Invitation Tournament championship this season. Over his six seasons at UNT, McCasland posted a record of 135-65 with three consecutive Conference USA titles from 2020 to 2022.

Grant McCasland University of North Texas Mean Green basketball Conference USA champions
Mar 13, 2021; Frisco, TX, USA; North Texas Mean Green head coach Grant McCasland holds up the net after the game against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Ford Center at The Star. (Credit: Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports)

With deep Texas roots and a resume filled with overcoming hardships and obstacles, McCasland seems to be a great fit for the Red Raiders. Given his penchant for making the best out of every situation handed to him, expect nothing but the best from McCasland and his Texas Tech squad in the future.