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IU head coaching candidate profile: Calbert Cheaney

This is the eighth in a series of profiles on potential candidates for Indiana basketball’s head coaching vacancy. 

Candidate: Calbert Cheaney

Age: 49

Current Position/Tenure: Indiana Pacers assistant coach since 2020.

Previous Jobs: Erie Bayhawks/College Park Skyhawks assistant coach, 2018-20; St. Louis assistant coach 2013-16; Indiana director of basketball operations, 2011-13, Golden State Warriors assistant coach, 2010-11.

Career Accomplishments: Helped St. Louis to the NCAA Tournament in 2014; was part of back-to-back Sweet 16 staffs at Indiana with a Big Ten title in 2012-13; scored a Big Ten record 2,613 points at Indiana from 1989-1993. Played 13 seasons in the NBA and scored 7,826 points.

Why It Might Work: If the Hoosiers want to follow the Juwan Howard model as closely as they can, Calbert Cheaney is their man. His NBA career wasn’t as lengthy or as successful as Howard’s and he doesn’t have the extensive NBA coaching experience either, but he has been around the professional game and the college game. He’s been on the road recruiting and was a valuable asset to the Hoosiers’ recruiting efforts from 2011-13 even though as director of operations, he wasn’t allowed to go on the road and only interacted with recruits when they were on campus. He has extensive experience in player development, he connects with players and people in general easily, and his monumental career at Indiana gives him credibility even with younger players. He doesn’t have Mike Woodson’s head coaching experience, but he has a better chance of connecting with today’s players with the closest thing IU has to a former player with an iconic brand.

Why It Might Not Work/Not Happen: Cheaney has never been a head coach at any level, he’s in just his second season as an NBA assistant and he has just three years as a designated assistant coach on a college staff. His coaching resumé is pretty thin, even compared to the other former Indiana players who might also be considered. He might be the most charismatic member of the group and his playing career might give him a lot of credibility, but making his first head coaching job the Indiana job comes with a substantial amount of risk. And considering the state of the program, the Hoosiers aren’t in position to be taking big risks.  There have been reports of dialogue between IU and Cheaney, but it would be very surprising if Indiana ultimately went in this direction.

Prior profiles:

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