BATON ROUGE, LA - New LSU men’s basketball head Coach Johnny Jones announced Thursday that Shawn Forrest and Charlie Leonard will be joining the basketball staff at LSU.
Forest served the last four years on Jones’ staff at North Texas, while Leonard has worked with Jones as far back as his interim season as head coach at Memphis in 2000.
The exact staff duties and approval by the LSU Board of Supervisors is still pending for both coaches.
Prior to joining Jones at North Texas, Forrest, who was born in Little Rock, Ark., spent six seasons at Arkansas State, where he also served part of the 2007-08 season as interim head coach.
In his four years at North Texas, Forrest played a key role in recruiting several of the players who helped make a six-year run of averaging 21 wins possible, including Tony Mitchell, the 6-8 forward who this past year was named the Sun Belt’s Freshman of the Year and also a first-team all-conference selection.
Forrest also played a lead role in recruiting several other top players from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, including Dallas Kimball forward Jordan Williams.
“Shawn Forrest will be a tremendous addition to the LSU Tiger family,” said Coach Jones. “With his ability to recruit and identify players on the recruiting front will be valuable to this program. Shawn’s ability to develop relationships and maintain them will be essential in the recruiting efforts here at LSU. He is a tremendous basketball coach as well with a great feel for the game that will also prove valuable for us moving forward.”
In his six seasons at Arkansas State, Forest was heavily involved in recruiting and academics. Forrest helped recruit a pair of two-time All-SBC players, a Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year, a leading scorer in the league and two others who ranked in the top three in scoring in the conference.
A former basketball star at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Forrest joined the Red Wolves after serving as the recruiting coordinator at Florida A&M. While there, he recruited Terrance Woods, a two-time first team All-MEAC selection and winner of the NABC All-Star Three-Point Contest at the Final Four in San Antonio. Forrest has also served as an assistant at Troy State (1998-01).
Forest received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff in 1998 and a Masters of Education from Troy in 2000.
Leonard comes to LSU with a varied background, including his 11 years as a member of the Mean Green coaching staff. It was Jones who selected Leonard to join his staff in Memphis during the 1999-2000 season. It marked a return to college basketball for Leonard, who at that time was the owner of an advertising and consulting firm in Memphis.
Among Leonard’s duties at UNT was to handle the program’s scouting department, compiling and updating reports on each team North Texas played throughout the season. He also assisted in game and practice coaching duties and coordinated team travel and the planning and organization of the Johnny Jones Basketball Camps each summer.
“Charlie Leonard has been with me for 12 years and has done a tremendous job assisting us in different areas. He is a great on-the-floor basketball coach and he has a tremendous basketball mind. We look forward to the impact that he will have on this LSU basketball program.”
Leonard’s experience in coaching basketball originally dates back to 1975 when he started a career that began at Memphis (Tenn.) Prep school and includes a 12-year tenure at Christian Brothers High School. Later, he served for seven seasons heading the program at Christian Brothers University in Memphis.
Leonard was a two-time NAIA District 24 Coach of the Year at CBU and was the school’s second winningest coach with 137 victories. The Buccaneers had six consecutive winning seasons and had 20 or more wins three consecutive years during Leonard’s 1990-97 tenure.
As assistant athletic director at CBU, he also gained valuable experience in the administrative side of the basketball program, including working in promotions, fund raising and with the NCAA.
At Christian Brothers High School, he won a state championship in 1987 and sent 28 of his players on to play college basketball.
Leonard graduated from Christian Brothers University in 1975.