(Contributor: Dustin Wiehe, Dakota Thompson)
Calbert Cheaney Biography
Calbert Nathaniel Cheaney is a retired American basketball player that is currently the assistant coach for the Erie Bayhawks – an NBA G League affiliate for the Atlanta Hawks. He played under Bob Knight and was a three-time All-American and remains the Big Ten Conference’s all-time leading scorer with 2,613 career points. Cheaney won almost every post-season honor possible, including National Player of the Year (winning both the Wooden and Naismith awards), a unanimous All-American, and Big Ten Player of the Year. Calbert Cheaney played for thirteen years in the NBA playing for five different teams.
- Name: Calbert Nathaniel Cheaney
- Position: Small Forward
- Nationality: USA
- Age: 48 years old
- Birthday: July 17th, 1971
- Hometown: Evansville, Indiana
- High School: William Henry Harrison
- Height: 6’7″ (2.01 m)
- Weight: 209 lbs (95 kg)
- Seasons: 4 (1989-1990, 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-1993)
- Jersey: #40
- Professional Team: Washington Bullets / Wizards (1993-1999), Boston Celtics (1999-2000), Denver Nuggets (2000-2002), Utah Jazz (2002-2003), Golden State Warriors
- NBA Draft: 1993 / 1st Round / 6th Overall
- Twitter: @calbertcheaney
Awards and Accolades
- 1991 Second-team All-American – USBWA
- 1991 Third-team All-American – AP, NABC, UPI
- 1992 Third-team All-American – AP, NABC, UPI
- 1993 Unanimous First-Team All-American
- 1993 Big Ten Conference Player of the Year
- Indiana University All-Time Leading Scorer
- Big Ten Conference All-Time Leading Scorer (2,613 points)
- Four-time Indiana University team MVP
- 1993 Winner of all 12 National Player of the Year awards
- Selected to Indiana University’s All-Century First Team
- 2019 Inductee to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame
Calbert Cheaney’s Childhood and Recruitment
Growing up in Evansville, IN, Calbert Cheaney played basketball, baseball, football, and ran track. Calbert didn’t know that basketball would be his calling until his high school basketball coach, Jerrill Vandeventer, called Calbert into his office and told him he had the athletic ability that could earn a scholarship to play college basketball. College had not been on his radar up to that point as his mom could not afford to send him to college. Upon hearing he had a shot at a scholarship, Calbert did everything he could to make himself a better basketball player and earn a chance to go to college and get an education.
Cheaney ended up a stand-out at William Henry Harrison High School, but a season-ending broken foot midway through his senior year took him off the national radar, leaving him as a virtual unknown in Indiana University’s #1 ranked recruiting class of 1989. He ended his career with 1,064 points, two city and two conference championships. He set the single game scoring record of 47 at Evansville Harrison. Bob Knight saw the potential in Calbert and recruited him along with Pat Graham, Greg Graham, Chris Reynolds, Todd Leary, Chris Lawson and Lawrence Funderburke. This 1989 class was one of the most historic in Hoosier history.
Calbert Cheaney’s Seasons with the Hoosiers
18-11 (8-10 Big Ten)
🏅 NCAA First Round
29-5 (15-3 Big Ten)
🏅 NCAA Sweet Sixteen
27-7 (14-4 Big Ten)
🥇 NCAA Final Four
Indiana University Career Statistics
Calbert Cheaney’s Indiana University Career
Calbert Cheaney played small forward for Indiana University under coach Bob Knight. He was Coach Knight’s first left-handed player, and was known as a smooth leader all four years at Indiana. During the last three of his years at Indiana, the team spent all but two of the 53 poll weeks in the top 10, and 38 of them in the top 5. The Hoosiers were 87-16 (.845) those last three years and a 46-8 (.852) mark in the Big Ten Conference.
Cheaney’s career at Indiana began impressively, with Calbert scoring 20 points in the season opener of his freshman year (the only Indiana freshman to ever do so). However, after winning all 10 pre-conference games, the Hoosiers went 8-10 in conference play and were upset by California in their opening NCAA Tournament game. Cheaney averaged 17 points per game as a freshman.
Our freshman year was very, very subpar…We started out excellent and when we got into Big Ten we were in for a rude awakening. I knew once that season was over and we started working out over the summer, we were going to become a pretty good team. I knew we were going to be a team to be reckoned with the next three years.Calbert Cheaney
Cheaney averaged 21.6 points per game as a sophomore, and the Hoosiers ending their 1990-1991 regular season with an overall record of 29-5 and a conference record of 15-3, finishing first in the Big Ten Conference. As conference champions, Indiana was given a 2-seed in the 1991 NCAA Tournament, where they reached the Sweet Sixteen.
Cheaney played a lot of international basketball during the summer following his sophomore year. Cheaney believes this contributed to his slight regression in his junior year.
I had a very good sophomore year, but I played a lot of international ball. I played on the Tournament of America team and the World University team. I think I wore myself out a little bit, and when my junior year rolled around, I wasn’t up to par.Calbert Cheaney
However, with the addition of other talent from players like Alan Henderson, Cheaney “didn’t have to score as much.” Cheaney averaged 17.6 points per game his junior season, and his three-point percentage dropped significantly. The Hoosiers finished the regular season with an overall record of 27-7 and a conference record of 14-4, finishing 2nd in the Big Ten. Indiana was invited to the NCAA Tournament as a 2-seed and they advanced to the Final Four, ultimately falling to Duke in a foul-plagued game in Minneapolis, MN.
As a senior during the 1992-1993 season, Cheaney averaged 22.4 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game. The Hoosiers finished the regular season with an overall record of 31-4 and a conference record of 17-1, finishing 1st in the Big Ten. Indiana was invited to the 1993 NCAA Tournament as a 1-seed, where they advanced to the Elite Eight for the second consecutive year, but ultimately lost to Kansas.
During his career at Indiana, Calbert Cheaney scored 30 or more points thirteen times and averaged 19.8 points per game, with a high of 22.4 as a senior. With 2,613 career points, he is the all-time leading scorer of both Indiana and the Big Ten. Cheaney also swept all National Player of the Year awards in 1993.
Of the four years that Cheaney played for Indiana, the Hoosiers went 105-27 and captured two Big Ten Championships (1991 an 1993). The 105 wins during Cheaney’s four years was the most of any Hoosier to that point.
Calbert Cheaney’s Career after Indiana University
Calbert Cheaney was selected 6th overall by the Washington Bullets in the 1993 NBA Draft. The 1994-1995 season was his best and he averaged a career-high 16.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. He spent six years playing for Washington, including a playoff appearance in 1997. He would go on to play for the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, and Utah Jazz, before closing his career out with three years with Golden State Warriors, retiring after the 2005-2006 season.
During his 13-year NBA career, Cheaney played for five different teams, averaging 9.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game.
Following his retirement as a player, Cheaney spent two seasons on the staff for the Golden State Warriors. He served as a special assistant to the front office in 2009-2010, and as an assistant coach in 2010-2011 under fellow Indiana alumnus Keith Smart.
He returned to Indiana University in 2011 as the Director of Basketball Operations for coach Tom Crean. In 2012, he added the title of Director of Internal and External Player Development.
On August 21, 2013, Cheaney announced he had accepted an assistant coach position at Saint Louis University under coach and fellow Indiana alumnus Jim Crews. Cheaney ultimately left the St. Louis staff in 2016 with the departure of Crews as head coach.
Since 2018, Calbert Cheaney has served as an assistant coach of the Atlanta Hawks G League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks.
Calbert Cheaney Professional Career Summary
- 1993-1999: Washington Bullets / Wizards (Player)
- 1999-2000: Boston Celtics (Player)
- 2000-2002: Denver Nuggets (Player)
- 2002-2003: Utah Jazz (Player)
- 2003-2006: Golden State Warriors (Player)
- 2009-2010: Golden State Warriors (Special Assistant to Front Office)
- 2010-2011: Golden State Warriors (Assistant Coach)
- 2011-2013: Indiana University (Director of Basketball Operations, Director of Internal and External Player Development (2012))
- 2013-2016: Saint Louis University (Assistant Coach)
- 2018-Present: Erie BayHawks (Assistant Coach)
Calbert Cheaney Highlights and Videos
Check out the rich history of Indiana Hoosiers basketball!
Every week, we are publishing new articles on former and current Indiana University basketball legends, historical figures, and other IU history. Our goal is to capture the history of the Hoosiers all in one place. Click here to see our current collection of articles on Indiana basketball tradition.
Have a favorite Indiana Hoosier basketball player, coach, or event?
Help grow the Hoosier basketball history books by being a contributor to one of our IU athletics history pages! IndianaHQ is always looking for writers of all ages and experience levels. If you think you have what it takes, drop us an email here or send us a tweet!