Illinois Basketball: The Case for Fred Hoiberg as Next Illini Head Coach


Speculation is rampant on who will lead the Illinois basketball team into next season.

There have been many names tossed out there and quite honestly, all of the names mentioned is complete speculation. Josh Whitman is the only one who knows what will happen and he might not even know yet.

One thing everyone should know, including Whitman, is that Illinois does need a change of leadership. That leadership needs to be a strong name who has had success at the college level.

An option that I mentioned in my five head coaching candidates is current Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg.

Hoiberg is in his second season with the Bulls and after the first year fans were hoping things would get better. I feel like the opposite has happened with this team, though.

Illinois Fighting Illini Basketball
Illinois Fighting Illini Basketball /

Illinois Fighting Illini Basketball

The Bulls made, what were supposed to be, big offseason acquisitions in Dwayne Wade and Rajon Rondo. These players were going to help the team make a deep run in the playoffs.

Well, the Bulls are now 54 games into the season and they sit with a 26-28 record. The team has had serious chemistry problems and Hoiberg even benched his two leaders, Wade and Jimmy Butler, for remarks they made.

Things are going downhill fast in Chicago and with All-Star Weekend coming up there might be time for Bulls management to think about going in a different direction.

Hoiberg getting let go before the season ends is likely the only way for the Illini to be able to snag him because the NBA season ends a month after the college season. And if the Bull make the playoffs it would be longer.

Nevertheless, Hoiberg would be a great option if things don’t work out in Chicago.

The pros far outweigh the cons in hiring Hoiberg. Let’s just start with his college playing resume.

Hoiberg was a big-time player for Iowa State in the early to mid-1990’s. He was a big part of teams that went to three NCAA Tournaments and his play enabled him to be a second-round draft pick by the Indiana Pacers in 1995.

In Hoiberg’s ten year NBA career he had a chance to play with three teams and was a part of some successful runs.

After the 2006 season, Hoiberg retired and joined the Minnesota Timberwolves front office. He then took his basketball knowledge to the college ranks and became head coach of the Iowa State Cyclones in 2010.

In year one with Iowa State, Hoiberg finished 16-16, but after that .500 season, the Cyclones made four straight NCAA Tournament appearances. The team also made a Sweet 16 appearance in that time as well.

The pedigree to be a head coach in the college game is there, but another aspect of being successful at Illinois is the ability to recruit and he has those tools as well.

In the short time that Hoiberg was at Iowa State, he was able to land some talented players. In 2012 he snagged Georges Niang who was selected in the second round by the Indiana Pacers.

Hoiberg can also emphasize the fact that he has played in the NBA and knows how to get to the next level. That is what the majority of top level high school basketball players want to hear.

If things end up going south for Hoiberg in Chicago, there is always a home for him in Champaign. He has all the things I want in a head coach.

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The only thing tripping up this option is availability, but if he does become available before the end of the season I would love for the Illini to hop on this candidate.