ISU basketball coaching vacancy filled


Fred Hoiberg and ISU assistant coach T.J. Otzelberger talk on the sideline during the second half of Iowa State’s 65-61 win against Kansas State on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012. Otzelberger will be the highest paid assistant coach on Steve Prohm’s staff for the 2015-16 season. 

Max Dible

ISU coach Fred Hoiberg’s management style mirrored that of his coaching on April 1, as he struck quickly to fill the void on his staff left by the departure of former ISU assistant Matt Abdelmassih.

Abdelmassih announced only one day before that he was departing Iowa State for St. John’s, his alma mater, to help first time head coach Chris Mullin bring the Red Storm back to prominence. In his place, Hoiberg hired T.J. Otzelberger, who along with Abdelmassih will be embarking on a homecoming.

Otzelberger served as an ISU assistant for seven seasons between 2006 and 2013, including three years under Hoiberg, before leaving for an assistant position at Washington. Now, a decade after first taking up on the ISU sideline, Otzelberger has returned to Ames to pick up where he left off.

“Returning to Iowa State is a dream come true for my family and I,” Otzelberger said in a press release. “We are truly passionate about this university and the Ames community. I couldn’t be more enthusiastic to get back to work with Coach Hoiberg and the excellent staff he has assembled. It feels great to be coming home.”

Otzelberger said in a teleconference he has withdrawn his name from other potential jobs, as he feels like working as a Cyclone is his best opportunity. He added that his official title will be assistant coach and that he will be involved heavily in the recruiting process, much the same as his first stretch with Iowa State.

Otzelberger was a key player in securing a commitment from Melvin Ejim, who went on to become Big 12 player of the year. Otzelberger also heavily recruited Matt Thomas, who began playing for the Cyclones the season Otzelberger pulled up stakes for Washington.

He said he has reached out to Thomas and expects to speak with him soon, adding that he has already been in contact with returning senior Georges Niang via text message.

Hoiberg said the choice to bring his former assistant back was a logical and promising one.

“I’m excited to have T.J. rejoin our staff,” Hoiberg said in a press release. “His familiarity with our program and Iowa State University will help us to have a seamless transition. T.J. is a proven coach and recruiter and he will be very valuable to our coaching staff.”

Hoiberg said in a teleconference that he thought the biggest selling point for Otzelberger’s return to Ames, despite having other opportunities at his disposal, was the draw of being close to home and coaching at his alma matter — two commonalities Otzelberger shares with Hoiberg.

Both Hoiberg and Otzelberger expect the former/new assistant to jump back into the coaching mix as quickly as possible. As of April 1, contract negotiations were still ongoing.

“I think it’s a great hire,” Hoiberg said. “He’s got a lot of really good relationships.”