The focus was on rostering in the early days of new head coach Mike Woodson, and that’s understandable.
But if it’s the 1 (a) job, putting together a new team of assistant coaches is an extremely important 1 (b) job.
With over 1,100 players in the transfer portal already at the time of writing, college basketball programs across the country are entering an unprecedented era of roster fluctuation. And we’re about to start the busy varsity basketball high school recruiting season, when the AAU action begins again.
Simply put, like all head coaches, Woodson needs help. Lots of help. Fortunately, he has already recruited a member of his team. Archie Miller’s former assistant Kenya Hunter remains with the squad and will provide Woodson with both an experienced basketball coach and a well-connected scout, especially on the East Coast.
This leaves two assistant positions available for Woodson. Where could he go to fill these vacancies? We will take a look.
(Think of this as a worklist, in no particular order, that will be updated)
Mike Roberts is the second remnant of the Miller era at this time. He has continued to be heavily involved in recruiting since the day Miller was fired. Roberts was the associate head coach of a well-respected UNC staff in Greensboro before joining IU. He undoubtedly has options and could have moved on already if that was his goal. He still could, but Roberts could also become an IU assistant, or take on another role at Bloomington, such as director of player development or basketball operations.
Michael Lewis added a Final Four to his CV as a UCLA Staff Assistant. Once IU’s all-time helper, Lewis gained a reputation as a good off-bench facilitator. Head coach Mick Cronin has his most efficient attack ever this season, and much of the credit goes to Lewis. Lewis is well connected in the state and in the Big Ten after long stops in Butler and Nebraska. He never hid his pride in his home state and the UI program. It’s worth noting that he’s not the next in line at UCLA under Cronin.
Dane Fife has the unique bio of playing for Bob Knight, playing on a Final Four team, having a head coach for six years and he has just completed his tenth season under the direction of the Head Coach of the Temple of the renamed Tom Izzo. Fife is a well-respected defensive coach and has strong recruiting relationships in the Midwest. Like Lewis, Fife isn’t considered next in line at Michigan State.
Calbert Cheaney has experience as a varsity basketball assistant, previously working with Jim Crews in St. Louis. He had conversations with Scott Dolson during the head coach recruiting process. Cheaney was on Tom Crean’s staff as 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 contribution carries a lot of weight. Dickerson spent seven seasons on Matta’s coaching staff at Ohio State from 2010-2016, as an associate head coach for the past six. In those seven years, Dickerson has been part of 181 wins, two Big 10 regular season titles, three Big Ten Tournament title appearances, three appearances with Sweet 16, one Elite Eight race in 2013 and the Final Four. 2012. Current USC Upstate Head Coach Dickerson is well connected across the South, East Coast and Midwest.
Drew Adams completed his sixth season as an assistant coach with the Bradleys, helping the Braves to a complete rebuild that culminated in back-to-back Missouri Valley conference tournament championships for the first time in the history of the school. Adams is considered a strong recruiter and has deep ties to Indiana. He’s from Bloomington, he coached under Steve Alford, and his father Mark is an Indiana Elite AAU program director.
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 industry and the Michigan native has great connections in the Midwest.
Dave Ragland is a product of Evansville that has been with another program on the rise in recent years in Utah State. Ragland has over 15 years of coaching experience and he helped design an offensive turnaround in the state of Utah. The Aggies made the NCAA tournament in 2019 and 2021, and they qualified in 2020. Ragland has a deep connection to the Midwest with several stops in the region during his coaching career.
KT Turner is a former assistant to legendary head coach Larry Brown – someone with whom Woodson is close and respects. More recently an assistant under Shaka Smart in Texas, Turner is a talented recruiter, and with extensive connections in the Southwest, this would give Indiana another important geographic region to tap into.
Tim Buckley is a name familiar to UI fans. Also known as the Shot Doctor, Buckley served on the Indiana staff under Tom Crean for nine years and is currently an assistant at UCLA. With Woodson’s focus on the 3-point shot, Buckley might deserve another look at Bloomington.
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