Kennesaw State’s Amir Abdur-Rahim hired as new USF men’s coach

The Georgia native oversaw one of college basketball’s most staggering turnarounds in recent years.
Amir Abdur-Rahim, expected to be named USF's new men's basketball coach, led Kennesaw State to the program's first NCAA Tournament berth this past season.
Amir Abdur-Rahim, expected to be named USF's new men's basketball coach, led Kennesaw State to the program's first NCAA Tournament berth this past season. [ CHARLIE NEIBERGALL | AP ]
Published March 29|Updated March 29

Kennesaw State men’s basketball coach Amir Abdur-Rahim, who helped transform the Owls from a one-win program to an NCAA Tournament qualifier in a four-season span, has been hired for the same job at USF.

Abdur-Rahim, 42, will be formally introduced Thursday at noon at the Muma Basketball Center on campus. The event is open to the public.

“Everything that we were looking for in a leader for our men’s basketball program, we found in Amir,” athletic director Michael Kelly said in a statement released by the school.

One of 13 siblings and a married dad of three, Abdur-Rahim becomes the program’s 11th coach. He replaces Brian Gregory, dismissed March 10 after compiling a 79-107 record in six seasons.

A former Georgia and Texas A&M assistant, Abdur-Rahim amassed only 19 wins in his first three seasons at Kennesaw State, enduring a 1-28 mark in 2019-2020. The Owls won five games the following season and 13 in 2021-2022 before an astounding breakthrough this past winter.

Picked to finish eighth in the Atlantic Sun Conference, Kennesaw State (26-9) won the league’s regular-season and tournament titles, and earned the program’s first berth in the NCAA Tournament. It fell to No. 3-seeded Xavier, 72-67 in the opening round.

Its 15 conference wins were five more than the program’s previous record; Kennesaw State also tied for fourth nationally with 10 road triumphs.

Four of the program’s top five scorers had been at Kennesaw State at least three seasons, a glaring contrast to USF, which has struggled mightily to maintain roster stability as the transfer portal has grown more prevalent.

Three of the Bulls’ top four scorers in the 2022-2023 season were Division I transfers in their first season at USF, which finished 14-18 and 7-11 in the American Athletic Conference.

“It takes a special group of people to commit to something and stay to see that vision through,” an emotional Abdur-Rahim told reporters following his team’s tournament loss to Xavier. “So the beginning was four years ago, but you better believe this is our standard.”

In addition to Texas A&M and Georgia, Abdur-Rahim’s other assistant-coaching stops include Murray State (2006-2007, 2008-2011) and College of Charleston (2012-2014). A three-time All-Southland Conference guard at Southeastern Louisiana, his older brother Shareef was a 13-year NBA veteran and is now president of the NBA’s G-League.

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“He is a man of high character who is a proven recruiter, program-builder and winner that creates unparalleled student-athlete experiences,” Kelly said. “In our conversations, it became clear that he has a vision for USF basketball, and his enthusiasm and tenacity will rally Bulls Nation around our men’s basketball program.”

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