Craig Smith completes coaching staff with hire of former West Virginia coach Josh Eilert


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SALT LAKE CITY — After a rocky start to the offseason, Utah head coach Craig Smith has completed his coaching vacancy with a proven coach with nearly 20 years of experience in the Big 12.

On Thursday, Utah announced the hire of former West Virginia assistant coach Josh Eilert, who previously served as the interim head coach with the Mountaineers after longtime coach Bob Huggins was fired from the program following an arrest for DUI.

Eilert served as the interim coach for the full 2023-24 season but was informed in March that West Virginia was not retaining him on staff after 17 seasons with the program in various roles.

"We're thrilled to have Josh and his wonderful family join the Utah men's basketball program," Smith said in a statement. "Josh is an excellent coach in all facets. He is well rounded in all phases of the game and articulates the game in a clear and concise manner.

"Josh has an excellent background in player development and will specifically work with the 'bigs' in our program," Smith added. "He also has a vast knowledge of the Big 12, having played and coached in it for nearly two decades; which will be very impactful as we head into that conference this season."

Eilert played at Kansas State from 2002-04 before beginning a coaching career at his alma mater in 2005 as a graduate assistant before eventually joining the West Virginia staff in 2007 as a video coordinator. After several other roles with the program, Eilert made an assistant coach ahead of the 2022 season.

During that time, West Virginia had 11 NCAA Tournament appearances an a Final Four appearance in 2010.

"I would like to thank coach Smith and the University of Utah administration for this incredible opportunity," Eilert said in a statement. "I have an immense amount of respect for coach Smith for the way in which he runs his program and the success he has had along the way. I am thrilled to remain a member of the Big 12 Conference, a league that I have spent 17 years in.

"My family and I are eager to join the Salt Lake City community and represent the University of Utah and this storied basketball program! Go Utes!"

Eilert joins fellow assistant coach Loren "Lo" Leath, who was brought on staff in May after two seasons at Sacramento State. Eilert and Leath replace former Utah assistant coaches Chris Burgess, who left for a similar position at BYU, and DeMarlo Slocum, who left to be an assistant at Washington.

In the offseason, Utah lost five players to the transfer portal, including dynamic guard Deivon Smith (St. John's) and Keba Keita (BYU), while adding guard Miro Little (Kansas), forward Ezra Ausar (East Carolina), forward Mike Sharavjamts (San Francisco), and walk-on Caleb Lohner (Baylor), who originally signed with Utah before asking out of his NLI to attend BYU ahead of his freshman season.

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Josh is the Sports Director for KSL.com and beat writer covering University of Utah athletics — primarily football, men’s and women's basketball and gymnastics. He is also an Associated Press Top 25 voter for college football.

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