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Cedar City • Todd Simon has been hired as Southern Utah men's basketball coach, the school announced Tuesday.

Simon served as UNLV's interim coach after the Rebels fired Dave Rice in the middle of last season. Before that, he was the Rebels associate head coach for three years under Rice, and played a big role in assembling UNLV's roster. Rivals.com ranked the Rebels' 2014 class as the fifth best in the nation.

The Thunderbirds are clearly hoping some of Simon's rercruiting prowess — not to mention his ties to Las Vegas and talent-rich southern California — rubs off on them.

"As we entered this process, we were focused on identifying a leader that could elevate this program into a consistent winner and Big Sky Championship contender," SUU athletic director Jason Butikofer said in a statement. "After conducting the search, I felt that Todd was the perfect fit to get us there."

Added Butikofer: "His ability to connect with and move student athletes to their potential and recruit both the West Coast, internationally and beyond will be extremely valuable assets as we look to quickly move this program to new heights."

Simon replaced Rice — a former longtime assistant coach at BYU — in January. The Rebels won their first three games, then finished out the season 9-8 under him.

Before joining Rice at UNLV, Simon was a head and assistant coach at Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev. He led Findlay to a 35-1 finish in 2012-13.

SUU will introduce Simon at a Thursday morning press conference.

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