Robbie Laing was named an assistant coach for UCF Men’s Basketball in April of 2016 under head coach Johnny Dawkins.
In seven seasons on staff, Laing has helped the Knights to a 131-87 overall record. With him on staff, the Knights have had unparalleled success, including the program’s first at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament and the school’s first NCAA Tournament win, a first round victory over VCU in 2018-19. The Knights were a nine seed in the tourney, their highest seed in five NCAA Tournament appearances, and defeated the eighth seeded Rams, 73-58 in first-round action. UCF then nearly defeated top overall seed Duke, falling in the final seconds, 77-76.
Laing led the charge in the recruitment of Taylor and Tyler Hendricks, both of whom joined the team’s roster for the 2022-23 season. He maintained a strong relationship with the twins and their family from high school on. Taylor went on to lead the team in scoring, blocks and a multitude of other categories in a phenomenal freshman campaign, one that led to him becoming the program’s first one-and-done, as well as first lottery pick in the NBA draft. Taylor was selected ninth overall in the 2023 NBA Draft to the Utah Jazz, the second of UCF’s selections in the modern draft era.
Late in the 2018-19 season, UCF defeated No. 6/8 Houston to snap the Cougars’ 33-game home win streak, and then took down No. 19/20 Cincinnati in Orlando. It marked the first time UCF had earned multiple victories over ranked opponents in the same season, and the Knights did it in back-to-back games.
The Knights’ 23 regular season wins in 2018-19 matched a program Division I era record, and the team’s 24 wins overall were the fourth most in school history. UCF also cracked the AP Top 25 poll for the first time since 2011. Laing also helped mentor three Knights to all-league honors, as BJ Taylor (first team), Aubrey Dawkins (second team), and Tacko Fall (third team) all earned all-conference honors from The American. Taylor earned his first all-conference honors in 2016-17, Fall was named the league Defensive Player of the Year and Matt Williams set new UCF and American Athletic Conference records for three-pointers made in a game, single season and career.
The Knights had immediate success with Laing on Dawkins’ staff, going 24-12 in 2016-17, doubling the team’s win total from the year before. UCF earned a bid to the NIT and made it all the way to the NIT Semifinals in New York City. The Knights led the nation in defensive field goal percentage, holding opponents to 36.5 percent from the floor, and ranked sixth in scoring defense, allowing just 61.2 points per game.
UCF made another appearance at the NIT during the 2022-23 season, the second with Laing on staff and the third overall postseason appearance in his seven-year tenure. The Knights matched up with fourth-seeded Florida in the first round of the NIT. The Black and Gold traveled up to Gainesville for the contest and came back with a 67-49 victory. It was the first win in Gainesville in program history. UCF finished the season with a 19-15 record as its run came to an end in the second round of the NIT against top-seeded Oregon.
The Knights had some remarkable moments during their 2022-23 run to the NIT. UCF won the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship by beating Oklahoma State 60-56 in overtime, the program’s first win over a Big 12 opponent, before earning a 57-50 win over Santa Clara in the title game. The Knights earned a double overtime win over Memphis, topping the Tigers 107-104. UCF set the program record for the most three-pointers in a single game in program history, sinking 17 triples against Tulsa in a 96-52 home victory. The Black and Gold went on to set the program’s single-season record for made three-pointers at 295.
While the team dealt with major injuries in 2017-18, the Knights still managed to achieve a lot. They earned 19 wins, including the program’s first home win over UConn, first road win over Memphis and first win over a ranked opponent in a true road game, defeating No. 24 Alabama.
The COVID-19 pandemic halted the 2019-20 season before the AAC Tournament could get underway, and the Knights finished the year with a record of 16-14. UCF earned wins over rival South Florida, Tulsa, SMU and on the road at Cincinnati for the first time in program history.
Laing helped UCF to a 11-12 overall record for the again COVID-19 affected 2020-21 season, including an 8-10 record in league play. The Knights had one of the most difficult non-conference schedules in the nation, including Oklahoma, Auburn, Michigan and Florida State. UCF defeated Auburn at home and won at 15th-ranked Florida State, the program’s first victory over the Seminoles.
In 2021-22, the Knights posted an 18-12 overall record, including a 9-9 mark in The American. UCF accrued a number of impressive victories on the season, taking down Michigan, Miami, Memphis and Wichita State (for the first time) in the regular season, as well as rival South Florida in the first round of the conference tournament to end the Bulls’ season. Junior Darin Green Jr. was named third team all-conference and freshman Darius Johnson picked up conference all-freshman team accolades.
From 2003-13 Laing was the head coach at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina, for 10 seasons. Laing’s most successful season came in 2009-10 when he guided the Camels to an Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season title, winning a school-record 19 games. He was tabbed the league’s coach of the year that season along with being recognized as the District 3 Coach of the Year by the National Basketball Coaches Association. The following season, Laing and the Camels were ranked in the mid-major college top-25 poll for the first time in school history.
During his career, Laing has been an assistant coach at a number of Division I programs, including Florida Atlantic (2014-16), Kansas State (2000-03), Southern Mississippi (1999-00), Auburn (1994-96), Clemson (1993-94), Georgia Southern (1984-86, 1987-93), Western Kentucky (1986-87) and Troy (1982-84).
He got his first collegiate head coaching job in 1996 at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Mississippi, where he spent three seasons at the helm.
Laing graduated from Lakeside High School in Eufaula, Alabama, where he was a standout in basketball and football. Following high school, he went to play football at Vanderbilt for one season.
He then transferred to Northwest Florida State to play basketball. The squad posted a 22-11 record only to see OWJC drop the program, sending Laing to Seminole State Community College, where he garnered All-America honors. Laing then transferred to Troy where he earned a degree in biology and physical education in 1982. The following year, Laing went to Georgia Southern to earn his master’s degree in physical education.
He and his wife, Dana are parents of five children: Ansley, Christian, Earl, Madison and Nathan, who played at UCF from 2016-18.