With a strong NBA background, and recent success at the college level, Iowa State men's basketball coach Fred Hoiberg is an obvious target for NBA teams with a coaching vacancy. While the interest from NBA teams is clear, Hoiberg's decision to leave Iowa State would be a very difficult one.
Hoiberg grew-up in Ames, Iowa, which is where Iowa State University is located. He was a multi-sport star at Ames High, and received many high-profile scholorship offers in both basketball and football. Hoiberg decided to stay in his hometown for college and play basketball for the Iowa State Cyclones.
As a four-year starter for the Cyclones, Hoiberg was a very well-balanced player who always stepped up when his team needed him the most. Hoiberg had a knack for knocking down a big shot, and became an incredibly popular player with the Cyclone faithful. In fact, the people of Ames still call Hoiberg "The Mayor", after he received a handful of write-in votes to be elected Mayor of Ames in 1993.
Hoiberg was drafted by the Indiana Pacers with the 52nd pick of the 1995 NBA Draft. Hoiberg was never a consistent starter in the NBA, but he was a valuable bench player for many seasons, specializing as a three-point shooter. He played 10 NBA seasons (4 with Indiana, 4 with the Chicago Bulls, and 2 with the Minnesota Timberwolves), before retiring after the 2004-2005 season.
He was hired as an assistant coach for a short time with the Timberwolves, before accepting a position in their front office. Hoiberg was a bright mind in the Minnesota front office for eight seasons, eventually getting promoted to the vice president position.
While he was a star in the front office, coaching always seemed to be in Hoiberg’s future. He was named the Iowa State head coach back in 2010, and has done an incredible job of turning around that program. Hoiberg’s recruiting of transfers with past behavioral issues has been scrutinized, but it has no doubt been effective. The Cyclones have a 90-47 total record in the last four years under Hoiberg, and have reached the NCAA Tournament the last three seasons, including a Sweet Sixteen run last season.
After all of his success with the Cyclones, and his ties to the professional game, NBA teams are starting to strongly consider Hoiberg as a coaching option. Before they hired Steve Kerr, the Golden State Warriors reportedly had casual talks with Hoiberg about their open coaching position. After missing out on Kerr, who they made their number one priority, Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks are looking at a number of options to be their new head coach, with Hoiberg’s name apparently near the top of the list. Also, the Timberwolves have an opening at head coach, and while no direct rumors have surfaced between Hoiberg and Minnesota, you have to imagine they are interested in their former Vice President.
Simply put, Hoiberg has the interest of NBA teams. He uses a NBA style of offense at Iowa State, and his Cyclone teams space the floor better than anybody in the nation. Hoiberg is a strong candidate to become a NBA head coach in the near future, but the question still remains whether he would leave such a comfortable situation in Ames to deal with the grind of the NBA.
He was beloved as a player, and now Hoiberg has brought the Iowa State basketball program back to national prominence. His #32 jersey is retired by the Cyclones, but tons of fans still wear his number to games at the Hilton Coliseum. He is already a legend at Iowa State, and leaving that would certainly be difficult. That said, the NBA is the top of his profession, and a passionate guy like Hoiberg certainly has to be intrigued by his options.
Whether he decides to stay in the comforts of Ames, Iowa, or tries to become “The Mayor” of a larger city, Hoiberg is a great coach with a very successful future ahead of him.