HIGH POINT, N.C. — The High Point University men’s basketball team has added Neill Berry as assistant coach, head coach Scott Cherry announced on Monday. Berry most recently was assistant coach at the University of South Carolina and previously worked at Western Kentucky from 2005-08.
“Neill brings a lot of experience in recruiting, coaching and developing players at different levels which will be extremely helpful to us,” Cherry said. “I like his varied experience, from his playing days at Southeastern Louisiana to coaching in the Sun Belt and SEC. He understands the kinds of players we’re looking for from a quality and character standpoint.”
“I’ve known Neill for five years now, and I think our familiarity with each other will be a huge asset and help bring chemistry to our staff,” Cherry added. “Neill comes in with an understanding of what we want to do and how we want to do things. He has been able to make an impact already.”
Berry worked under head coach Darrin Horn for the past seven years – the first three at Western Kentucky before Horn moved on to South Carolina for the past four years. For two of those seasons – the 2007-08 season at Western Kentucky and the 2008-09 season at South Carolina – Cherry was the top assistant coach under Horn.
Berry rose through the ranks at South Carolina, starting off as Director of Player Development in 2008-09 before moving up to assistant coach the following season.
In his first season as a full-time assistant with South Carolina, Berry helped lead the Gamecocks to an 11-5 home record, a road victory in their SEC opener at Auburn – South Carolina’s first victory in a league opener on the road since 1993 – and an upset victory over No. 1 Kentucky. In the summer of 2010, Berry was part of a coaching staff that helped bring in a recruiting class that was ranked No. 17 in the country according to Scout.com.
South Carolina featured one of the youngest teams in the nation in Berry’s final two seasons there, but the Gamecocks were still able to notch several highlights. In 2010-11, South Carolina earned overtime victories at Colonial Life Arena over then-No. 22 Vanderbilt and Arkansas, and got an impressive 72-69 road win at Florida. Last year, South Carolina notched SEC wins over Alabama and Georgia. Berry worked extensively with sophomore forward Damontre Harris, who was named to the SEC All-Defensive team.
Berry went directly from his playing career to the coaching profession when he joined Horn at Western Kentucky in 2005. His efforts helped Western Kentucky win the 2006 Sun Belt Conference East Division title for the first time in three seasons, while in 2006-07 Berry again helped the Hilltoppers to a 20-win season as they finished 22-11 (12-6 Sun Belt).
Berry was a full-time assistant coach in 2007-08 as Western Kentucky won the Sun Belt Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. The Hilltoppers posted victories over Drake and San Diego before falling to top-seeded UCLA. Western Kentucky compiled a school-record 29 wins, finishing with an overall record of 29-7. The coaching staff moved on to South Carolina the next season.
A combo guard at Southeastern Louisiana under coach Billy Kennedy for five seasons, Berry redshirted his third year in preparation for what would be two of the most successful seasons in program history. In Berry’s redshirt-junior season of 2003-04, the Lions went 20-9 overall and 11-5 in the Southland Conference.
Berry’s final playing season marked Southeastern Louisiana’s first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. The team won a school-record 24 games as well as the Southland regular season and tournament titles. Kennedy eventually moved on to Murray State and is now head coach at Texas A&M.
Originally from Jackson, Miss., Berry attended Madison-Ridgeland Academy. He is married to the former Ashly Miller and the couple welcomed a son, Ty Miller Berry, in the spring of 2011.