When he was introduced as LSU’s new basketball coach at an April 16 news conference, Johnny Jones said a championship-level program like his alma mater’s deserved a championship-level coaching staff.
Jones made his biggest statement on that front Tuesday in announcing that Robert Kirby has left his job as a Georgetown assistant to join the LSU staff.
Kirby has long been known as a heavyweight on the recruiting trail, but Jones said labeling the 26-year coaching veteran a strong recruiter sells him short.
“I think guys sometimes guys unfairly get tagged with that line — especially a guy of the magnitude of Robert Kirby,” Jones said. “He’s a tremendous teacher on the floor and a really solid basketball coach and very knowledgeable about the game. I think Robert will soon be a head coach one day because he has all the attributes it takes to take that next step.”
Kirby joins Shawn Forrest and Charlie Leonard, who followed Jones from North Texas, on the LSU staff. Jones said the remaining position he has is for a director of basketball operations, who will serve mainly as a liaison between the program and high-school and AAU coaches.
Although he spent the past two seasons as a Georgetown assistant, Kirby has deep roots in the South.
He lettered two years at Texas-Pan American in the early 1980s before beginning his coaching career at Arkansas College for the 1984-85 season. He later coached at Arkansas-Little Rock, Southeastern Louisiana, Houston and Mississippi State.
Kirby served on the Southeastern staff during the 1988-89 season.
He served two stints at Mississippi State, including a 12-year run on coach Rick Stansbury’s staff beginning with the 1998-99 season.
Jones said when he interviewed for the LSU job four years ago, he had spoken with Kirby about leaving Mississippi State to join him in Baton Rouge. LSU instead hired Trent Johnson and Jones remained at North Texas.
“So when it happened again this time, it was a natural thing to reach out to him and call and ask permission to speak with him,” Jones said. “I wasn’t sure it was going to work out, but I wanted to at least throw that line out there to him.”
Kirby was central in Georgetown’s recruitment of Devonta Pollard from Kemper County High in De Kalb, Miss. Pollard, a 6-foot-7 forward, is one of the nation’s top unsigned players in the 2012 recruiting class.