Melvin Ejim weighs in on Fred Hoiberg rumors


Tiffany Herring/Iowa State Daily

Senior Melvin Ejim embraces head coach Fred Hoiberg during the senior ceremony before the game against Oklahoma State on March 8, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum. 

Luke Manderfeld

As the Fred Hoiberg rumors continue to swirl and the calendar flips month after month, fans of ISU basketball wonder what will happen to “The Mayor” of Iowa State.

Hoiberg’s only four-year player, Melvin Ejim, who has spent time in the past playing for Virtus Roma in Italy, has kept little track of the “Hoiberg Watch” rumors but has talked to Hoiberg during the offseason. 

Ejim talked to Hoiberg on Monday, and said Hoiberg’s recovery from open-heart surgery is going well.

He also said health is Hoiberg’s main concern right now.

“I think nobody knows what’s going on right now, I definitely don’t,” Ejim said in a phone interview. “The biggest thing for him is to [be] healthy, and that’s what he’s focusing on there.”

The leading rumor has Hoiberg as the head coach of the Chicago Bulls. There has been reported unrest between the Bulls’ front office and current head coach Tom Thibodeau, which led leading basketball analysts to believe Thibodeau could be fired at the end of the season.

That would leave a spot for Hoiberg’s impressive coaching résumé at Iowa State to take over. 

“I think that it’s only a matter of time,” Ejim said. “When you are coaching or playing at any game you play, your goal is to get to the highest level. For him, the NBA could be his highest level. At the same time, he has a great opportunity to stay at Iowa State for a lifetime, I think. So we will see, but I think he is in a great spot with two incredible opportunities.”

Hoiberg hasn’t said much while leaving the ISU fan base wondering what will happen to The Mayor, which has drawn attention to critics who question why he hasn’t addressed the rumors. 

Kentucky head coach Jon Calipari went the other route after he was reportedly linked to the New Orleans Pelicans. He was quick to dispel the rumors by taking to his Twitter page. 

But Hoiberg has a different set of circumstances.

“He’s probably going through a lot of things right now,” Ejim said. “I know there’s been a lot of speculation. ‘Why hasn’t he come out, why hasn’t he said anything?’ I think the thing that people don’t realize is that he is still recovering.”

Ejim said there will be rumors surrounding Hoiberg’s decision every offseason if he decides to stay, but that shouldn’t change how he goes about making the decision. 

Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register wrote a column last week hoping the rumors end quickly in the wake of the last Hoiberg-to-the-NBA rumor that lasted until late July. 

Ejim said these things take time.

“Before [Hoiberg] can even make that decision, he has to be healthy. I think that’s the biggest thing for him,” Ejim said. “I think he should take his time with it. … There’s a lot of things he has to consider when making this decision. Taking his time with it is the best route to go. He will obviously make the choice that he thinks is the right way to go. People shouldn’t question his methods because he has a lot on his plate right now.”