The focus has been on the roster during new head coach Mike Woodson’s first few days on the job, and understandably so.
But if that is job 1(a), assembling a new staff of assistant coaches is a critically important job 1(b).
With more than 1,100 players in the transfer portal already as of this writing, college basketball programs around the country are embarking on an unprecedented era of roster fluctuation. And we are about to commence the college basketball high school recruiting busy season, when AAU action begins anew.
Simply put, as with all head coaches, Woodson needs help. A lot of help. Fortunately he has already secured one member of his staff. Former Archie Miller assistant Kenya Hunter is staying with the team and will provide Woodson both an experienced basketball coach and a well connected recruiter, especially on the East Coast.
That leaves two assistant spots available for Woodson. Where might he go to fill those vacancies? Let’s take a look.
(Consider this a working list, in no particular order, that will be updated)
Mike Roberts is the second holdover from the Miller era at this moment. He has continued to be heavily involved in recruiting since the day Miller was let go. Roberts was the associate head coach on a well respected UNC Greensboro staff before coming to IU. He no doubt has options and could have already moved on by now if that was his goal. He still might, but Roberts could also end up as an IU assistant, or take another role in Bloomington such as the Director of Player Development or Basketball Operations.
Michael Lewis has added a Final Four to his resume as an assistant on the UCLA staff. Once the all-time assist leader at IU, Lewis has earned a reputation as a good facilitator of offenses from the bench. Head coach Mick Cronin has his most efficient offense ever this season, and much of the credit goes to Lewis. Lewis is well connected in the state and the Big Ten after lengthy stops at Butler and Nebraska. He has never hidden his pride in his home state and the IU program. It is worth noting that he is not the next in line at UCLA under Cronin.
Dane Fife has the unique bio of once playing for Bob Knight, playing on a Final Four team, serving has a head coach for six years, and he just completed his tenth season working under Hall of Fame head coach Tom Izzo. Fife is a well respected defensive coach and he has strong recruiting connections in the Midwest. Like Lewis, Fife is not seen as the next in line at Michigan State.
Calbert Cheaney has experience as a college basketball assistant, formerly working under Jim Crews at St. Louis. He had conversations with Scott Dolson during the head coach hiring process. Cheaney was on Tom Crean’s staff as the Director of Basketball Operations at IU. Currently an assistant for the Indiana Pacers, does Cheaney have an interest in returning to the grind that is college basketball recruiting?
Dave Dickerson could be an option, especially if Thad Matta’s input carries a lot of weight. Dickerson spent seven seasons on the coaching staff for Matta at Ohio State from 2010-16, serving as the associate head coach for the last six. In those seven years, Dickerson was a part of 181 victories, two Big 10 Regular Season titles, three Big Ten Tournament title game appearances, three Sweet 16 appearances, an Elite Eight run in 2013 and the 2012 Final Four. The current head coach at USC Upstate, Dickerson is well connected in the South, East Coast and the Midwest.
Drew Adams completed his sixth season as an assistant coach with the Bradley, helping the Braves to a complete rebuild that resulted in consecutive Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championships for the first time in school history. Adams is thought of as a strong recruiter and has deep Indiana ties. He is from Bloomington, he coached under Steve Alford, and his father Mark is a director of the Indiana Elite AAU program.
Drew Valentine has been with Porter Moser and Loyola as an assistant throughout their magical four year run in Chicago. Valentine is the son of a high school coach and the older brother of former Michigan State star Denzel Valentine. Valentine is a rising star in the business and the Michigan native has great connections in the Midwest.
Dave Ragland is an Evansville product who has been with another rising program over the last few years at Utah State. Ragland has more than 15 years of coaching experience and he helped engineer an offensive turnaround at Utah State. The Aggies made the NCAA Tournament in 2019 and 2021, and they qualified in 2020. Ragland has deep ties to the Midwest with several stops in the area during his coaching career.
K.T. Turner is a former assistant under legendary head coach Larry Brown — someone Woodson is close with and respects. Most recently an assistant under Shaka Smart at Texas, Turner is a talented recruiter, and with extensive connections in the Southwest would give Indiana another important geographical region to exploit.
Tim Buckley is a name familiar to IU fans. Also known as the Shot Doctor, Buckley was on the Indiana staff under Tom Crean for nine years and is currently an assistant at UNLV. With Woodson’s emphasis on 3-point shooting, Buckley might merit another look in Bloomington.
Sean May is the son of IU legend Scott May. Sean has been on the staff at North Carolina for six years in the director of basketball operations role under the now retired Roy Williams. The 2005 Final Four Most Outstanding Player and NBA first-round draft pick’s duties include scouting, on-campus recruiting, video services, team logistics and other behind-the-scenes duties.
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