NORTHRIDGE, Calif. — Former NBA star and coach Reggie Theus was named today as Cal State Northridge’s men’s basketball coach in what athletic director Brandon E. Martin called “a game-changing hire.”

“His pedigree as an NBA player and coach, as well his ability to elevate a college program made him stand out from a competitive pool of candidates,” Martin said.

Theus succeeds Bobby Braswell, who was fired March 19 after 17 seasons as the Matadors’ coach.

“I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to get back into college basketball,” said Theus, who was in his first season as coach of the Los Angeles D-Fenders, the Los Angeles Lakers’ NBA Development League affiliate, when hired by Cal State Northridge.

“This is what I really want to do. To have an opportunity to coach in my hometown area is really a dream for me. This is what I really wanted.”

Theus inherits a team that was 14-17 in the recently concluded season, including a 5-13 mark in Big West Conference play. Cal State Northridge finished ninth in the 10-team conference and failed to qualify for the conference tournament.

“We will be in a process of building young men, and the well-being of the student-athlete is foremost,” the 55-year-old Theus said. “I take a lot of pride in mentoring young people. CSUN is a young team with a great opportunity.

“This is going to be a great challenge. This is a program that everybody in the near future is going to be proud of. I am excited for the players. I want our student body, the campus community, and the San Fernando community to be involved. If the team is willing to work, it’s going to happen.”

Theus graduated from Inglewood High School and played college basketball at Nevada Las Vegas, helping the Runnin’ Rebels to the 1977 Final Four.

Theus was a 6 foot 7 inch shooting guard who played 13 seasons in the NBA for five teams from 1978-91, was an All-Star in 1981 and 1983 and is among seven players in league history to have more than 19,000 points and more than 6,000 assists.

Theus coached New Mexico State to a 41-23 record from 2005-2007, guiding the Aggies to an NCAA tournament berth in 2007. He was an assistant coach at Louisville from 2003-2005.

Theus coached the Sacramento Kings to a 44-62 record from 2007-2008 and was an assistant coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves from 2009-2011. He spent the 2011-12 season as an analyst on Pacific-12 Conference games on Fox Sports Net.

In addition to being a basketball coach on the professional and college levels, Theus also portrayed a basketball coach on television, playing coach Bill Fuller of the fictional Deering (Ind.) High School on the NBC Saturday morning series “Hang Time” from 1995-98.