Darren Tillis, who has over 20 years of coaching experience, joined the UCF staff as an assistant coach in April 2010. Tillis spent the previous three campaigns as an assistant coach at Marshall under Donnie Jones. Tillis has helped the Knights enjoy numerous successes since arriving in Orlando.
UCF achieved immediate success in 2010-11 with the new coaching staff, as the Knights entered the national rankings for the first time in program history. UCF spent four total weeks in the rankings, including three weeks with a spot in both national polls. Finney helped a pair of UCF players earn individual honors from Conference USA at the conclusion of the regular season. Marcus Jordan was an All-C-USA Second Team selection, and Keith Clanton was named to the all-league third team. The Knights finished the campaign fifth nationally in blocks per game (5.8) and blocked a school-record 190 shots during the year. Tom Herzog (2.0) ranked second in the conference in blocks per contest, and Clanton (1.8) was third.
In 2011-12, UCF went 22-11 and achieved many impressive firsts, including the program's first trip to the postseason National Invitation Tournament. The Knights also made their inaugural appearance in the C-USA Championship semifinals, defeated league foes Memphis and UAB for the first time and defeated a top-5 ranked squad - No. 4 UConn - for the first time. The victory over UConn, which came at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, snapped the defending national champions' 16-game winning streak. During the campaign, Finney helped Clanton become just the second Knight to garner All-C-USA First Team honors since the program joined the league in 2005.
The Knights recorded another 20-win campaign in 2012-13. The squad went 20-11 overall and registered a pair of victories over top-50 RPI squads in Belmont and Southern Miss. The Knights were led by Isaiah Sykes, who paced the country with two triple-doubles and garnered All-C-USA First Team honors and a spot on the league's all-defensive team. Clanton also picked up league accolades with a spot on the All-C-USA Second Team. Finney helped the forward finish his career as UCF's all-time leader in rebounds, blocks, games played and starts. Both Sykes and Clanton received NABC All-District 11 First Team honors, marking the first time in program history that two Knights were named to the all-district squad.
With Tillis on staff, the Knights joined the new American Athletic Conference for the 2013-14 season and have taken on some of the most prestigious programs in college basketball over the last two years. The conference has had two of the last three national champions in Louisville (2013) and Connecticut (2014). With every conference game televised on either the ESPN or CBS family of networks, the Knights have enjoyed unprecedented national exposure while facing teams rich in basketball history in UConn, Cincinnati, Memphis and Temple. In 2013-14 Sykes earned All-AAC Second Team and All-Tournament Team honors. Last season a pair of freshmen in B.J. Taylor and Adonys Henriquez were named to the league's All-Rookie Team.
While at Marshall, Tillis helped Jones turn around the Thundering Herd program. Marshall went 24-10 in 2009-10 and advanced to the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. The appearance was the first trip to the postseason for Marshall in 22 years. The team finished the season 11-5 in C-USA play, tying the Herd for third in the league and serving as the school's best conference finish since 2000-01.
Tillis served as a mentor for Hassan Whiteside, who led the nation in blocks in 2009-10. The post player recorded 182 blocks, the fourth-most in NCAA single-season history. Whiteside was named both the C-USA Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year, and garnered freshman All-America Second Team honors from The Sporting News. Both Whiteside and fellow big man Tyler Wilkerson were selected to the All-C-USA Second Team. Whiteside was selected by Sacramento with the 33rd overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.
Before heading to Marshall, Tillis served as an assistant coach at Tennessee State from 2003-07. Tillis was an assistant coach at Clemson from 1998-03. During his time with the Tigers, Tillis coached several players who went on to the NBA, including Harold Jamison and Will Solomon.
Tillis played collegiately at Cleveland State and was selected with the 23rd overall pick of the 1982 NBA Draft by Boston. He spent two years in the NBA, playing with the Celtics, Cleveland and Golden State. Tillis then played professionally in Europe, starting with a four-year stint in the Italian League, where he won a pair of titles. He concluded his professional career in the Spanish League from 1988-90.
A native of Dallas, Tillis began his coaching career in Europe as the head coach of Ockelbo Basket in Sweden from 1993-95. He entered the college coaching ranks in 1995, spending a year at SMU as an assistant. While living in Dallas, he finished his undergraduate degree at Paul Quinn College, receiving a bachelor's of arts in history in 1996. From 1997-98, he worked as an assistant at Wyoming.
Tillis was a four-year starter at Cleveland State. As a senior, he averaged 17.3 points and 12.8 rebounds and was an All-America honorable mention selection by The Sporting News. Inducted into the Cleveland State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999, Tillis ranks first in school history in career blocked shots (171), second in rebounds (1,045) and fourth in scoring (1,423). Tillis is the proud father of a daughter, Christina.