Grant McCasland

Grant McCasland coaches North Texas during a win over Florida International during the Conference USA tournament in Frisco last season. McCasland expressed confidence in UNT's newcomers during Conference USA media day at the Star in Frisco. 

The University of North Texas Board of Regents will consider a contract extension for men’s basketball coach Grant McCasland on Thursday, the Denton Record-Chronicle has learned.

McCasland guided the Mean Green to the College Basketball Invitational tournament title at the end of his debut season in 2017-18 and has rolled up a 41-30 record in two seasons with the Mean Green.

UNT signed McCasland to a five-year contract after hiring him away from Arkansas State. The deal includes a $500,000 base salary with guaranteed incentives that push his total compensation past $600,000.

UNT’s regents will consider an amendment to the deal in executive session.

McCasland took over UNT’s once-proud program after it bottomed out under former coach Tony Benford in the 2016-17 season. The Mean Green finished 8-22, their fifth straight season at .500 or worse under Benford, who was fired at the end of the year.

UNT paid Arkansas State $500,000 to buy McCasland out of his contract. The Mean Green showed immediate improvement under McCasland, who guided UNT on an unexpected run through the CBI.

The Mean Green won five of their six games in the event, beat San Francisco in the three-game final series and finished 20-18. UNT was one of the last teams invited to the pay-to-play event.

UNT followed up its championship season by with a program record 16-1 start last fall. The Mean Green struggled with injuries the rest of the way and finished 21-12 after falling to Western Kentucky in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament.

The Mean Green had just six players available in a loss to Florida International in February.

McCasland vowed this summer to put the Mean Green in a better position in his third season.

“The biggest thing we need to do is make sure that we have healthy bodies going into the season and that we are in the best shape we can possibly be in,” McCasland said. “I’m not saying we didn’t do that last year, but we are taking the approach that everyone is going to play.”

UNT returns several of its key players from last season, including guard Umoja Gibson and forward Zachary Simmons.

Gibson was a C-USA All-Freshman Team selection after averaging 12.6 points per game last season. Simmons averaged 10.2 points and 7 rebounds per game.

McCasland added to that core by signing five newcomers, including four transfers. Junior college guards Javion Hamlet and James Reese are expected to make an immediate impact.

“I feel good about where we are at,” guard Roosevelt Smart said this summer. “We have the pieces to be better. We have depth again, size, length and guys who can play multiple positions. The guys are also unselfish. That will carry over.”

UNT officials have been pleased with the progress the program has made under McCasland. They are expected to reward him with an extension this week.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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