Hardin-Simmons University names new basketball coach

Matt Brackett

ABILENE, Texas - Former Hardin-Simmons University player Matt Brackett is the Cowboys' new basketball coach.

The 32-year-old Brackett replaces Craig Carse, who retired after leading HSU on a successful run into the NCAA Division III playoffs.

Brackett was a three-year starter and two-year captain during his playing stint at HSU from 2004 to 2007.

Brackett served as the head coach at Class 4A Cleveland High School this past season. He took a team that finished 11-14 in 2015-16 to a playoff-making 20-14 record in 2016-17.

At Thursday morning's press conference, Brackett acknowledged that HSU will lose a lot of its veteran core, but sees an opportunity to continue the program's recent success.

"I talked to them a lot about relationships, and I talked to them a lot about how I'm going to be there for them when needed," he said. "I also talked to them about the style of play that we'd like to do, but it's going to be a challenge to keep it going and to rebuild."

Most of the returning HSU Cowboys were a part of the hiring process, and sophomore Joe Hoeup says it was a no-brainer.

"I can just tell by when we first met Matt, his competitive spirit that he brought and the love that he had for HSU," Hoeup said.

Brackett's return to Abilene also increases the intensity of the newly-revived 'Crosstown' rivalry. Current McMurry head coach Zack Pickelman is a good friend of Brackett, having also played and later served as an assistant coach for HSU. Thus making for an exciting re-uniting of old friends on the hardwood.

Hear coach Bracett talk about his relationship with the McMurry coach

"Zach and I were teammates, we were college roommates, and Zach and I talk on the phone everyday -- ever since I left Abilene," said Brackett. "So the rivalry is going to -- it's going to be different and it's going to be fun to be able to coach against him."

News release from Hardin-Simmons University:

ABILENE, Texas - Hardin-Simmons University Director of Athletics John Neese has selected former HSU student-athlete Matt Brackett as the 28th men's basketball coach in the history of the school.

Brackett comes to HSU after working his way up the ranks in the high school level. He also was a four-year player, three-year starter and two-year captain for Hardin-Simmons from 2004 to 2007.

"I am so excited to come back and serve the institution that has given me so much," said Brackett. "Ever since I came here as a player I fell in love with HSU. It is a place that changes lives and I am a perfect example of that. I am honored and blessed to be the men's basketball coach."

Brackett spent this past season as the head coach at Class 4A Cleveland High School. In his one season, he took the team from 11-14 the previous year to 20-14 this season and the team made the playoffs.

Prior to that, he spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Mansfield Lake Ridge. He helped develop the offensive philosophy for the entire 7-12 grade program and the high school was 77-42 with three playoff appearances. He coached nine players that went on to play college basketball in those four years.

In the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons he was the assistant girls coach at North Crowley High School and had great success. They were 33-3 in 2010-11 and won the most games in the school's history. They were district champions again in 2011-12.

He coached one year at Mansfield Howard Middle School and led the team to an undefeated district championship. His first job out of Hardin-Simmons was at Cleveland High School, where he was an assistant for a team that went 25-7 and won the district title.

Brackett worked as a student assistant at HSU the year after he finished his eligibility while completing his student teaching.

In his seven seasons as a high school assistant or head coach, his teams went to the playoffs six times and won three district titles.

He also has served as a camp instructor at the University of Texas at Arlington and Southern Methodist. He also ran the Lake Ridge basketball camps.

He was a four-year letterwinner at Hardin-Simmons and ranks among the school's all-time leaders in assists, steals and games played. He was named academic all-conference three times and won the ASC's sportsmanship award for men's basketball in 2007.

Brackett has a bachelor's degree from Hardin-Simmons in education and has a master's degree from Lamar University in educational administration.

He is married to the former Rachel Cisneroz, who also played basketball at Hardin-Simmons. They have two children - Tyce (5) and Jolee (1).

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