Two weeks after the firing of Archie Miller, reports have indicated that Indiana has locked in as its next head coach, Mike Woodson, 63, for his first college level coaching position. Per Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN, he is expected to sign a 6-year deal with the Hoosiers.
Woodson has spent approximately the last year as an assistant for the New York Knicks and has had several head coaching jobs in the NBA (Atlanta Hawks 2004-2010, and New York Knicks 2012-2014).
Additionally, Thad Matta, who many considered another frontrunner for the head coach position, will join Indiana as the associated athletic director for men’s basketball administration. Matta will not fill a countable position, meaning Indiana can still have an additional three assistants to the team that will be able to handle all off-campus duties, such as recruiting.
Mike Woodson is a true Hoosier
Woodson has spent the entirety of this early life growing up in Indiana and playing in Broad Ripple (Indianapolis, IN). Mike Woodson was an exceptional basketball player that came out of Indianapolis public schools. During his senior year, he led Broad Ripple High School with 28.6 ppg. He made it to the all-state team as a result and the Indiana All-Star team where he was the leading scorer in the team’s annual battle against the Kentucky High School All-Stars. He also had the opportunity to practice with a large number of talent in the Indianapolis area when he was in high school including George McGinnis, Roger Brown and Rick Mount.
He was recruited by Bob Knight and Woodson ended up with 2,061 points at Indiana over his career. He did not win a title for the Hoosiers despite Bob Knight winning one in 1976 and 1981, just before and after Woodson’s time at Indiana. Woodson entered the NBA draft and was selected 12th overall by the New York Knicks in the 1980 draft. He played for six teams throughout his career in the NBA.
After his NBA playing career, he joined the Milwaukee Bucks staff as an assistant and bounced between several teams before his first HC run at the Hawks. His full career coaching positions are listed below:
- Milwaukee Bucks (assistant) (1996-1999)
- Cleveland Cavaliers (assistant) (1999-2001)
- Philadelphia 76ers (assistant) (2001-2003)
- Detroit Pistons (assistant) (2003-2004)
- Atlanta Hawks (2004-2010)
- New York Knicks (assistant) (2011-2012)
- New York Knicks (2012-2014)
- Los Angeles Clippers (assistant) (2014-2018)
- New York Knicks (assistant) (2020-2021)
He has amounted a 315-365 (46.3 W-L%) over his years as head coach. However, he has led teams to the playoffs 5 of his 9 years as head coach.
One of the biggest concerns is his lack of collegiate experience for coaching and recruiting as this is his first college position.
The details of the hire
The current details of Woodson’s contract are unknown. Woodson will likely receive one of the higher salaries in the NCAA due to the exposure and funding behind the Indiana Basketball program, but more details will come as they are disclosed.
Highest paid NCAA basketball coaches (total pay, per USAToday.com)
- John Calipari (Kentucky) – $8,095,800
- Mike Krzyzewski (Duke) – $7,044,221
- Jay Wright (Villanova) – $6,144,180
- Chris Beard (Texas Tech) – $4,873,592
- Rick Barnes (Tennessee) – $4,707,500
- Roy Williams (North Carolina) – $4,168,250
- Tom Izzo (Michigan State) – $3,984,706
- Bruce Pearl (Auburn) – $3,980,630
- Buzz Williams (Texas A&M) – $3,900,000
- Fred Hoiberg (Nebraska) – $3,900,000
For reference, Archie Miller was the No. 21 highest paid coach this year making $3,350,000.
Woodson is a great hire for the job at hand
Under Archie, there were several areas that needed improvement, and Woodson provides a much needed boost for the Hoosiers.
First, Woodson knows the culture of Indiana. This matches what Scott Dolson was looking for in his search for a new head coach. Woodson has been coached under Bob Knight, and is from the area (Broad Ripple). These aspects are held highly for many of the Hoosier faithful who take immense pride of the stars that come out of our state. Through this, Woodson can look to the past and build upon it in his way that he sees fit.
Also, the growing importance of preparing college athletes for the next level is an extremely marketable trait. Top-tier talent will gravitate towards a program like Indiana more than they have ever done before knowing they will have one of the most passionate fanbases, exceptional talent on their team, and a coach that will prepare you for the next level as he knows how NBA players can succeed. Woodson has proven he can coach professional basketball successfully which is a rare feat among many of the head coaches that have made the leap between leagues. He has coached stars such as Carmelo Anthony and Blake Griffin during his time in the NBA.
Expectations remain high for Indiana fans
Woodson will enter Indiana as being the center of attention for the state and have plenty of tools to build his future vision around. The expectations will be lofty, but not out of reach relative to the previous coaching changes that have been made since Bob Knight’s departure.
Woodson and Matta will need to work to convince all the Indiana players to ultimately stay on board at Indiana. Currently, Armaan Franklin, Race Thompson, Khristian Lander, Parker Stewart, Jordan Geronimo and Al Durham have put their names into the transfer portal. Getting most of these players back will be essential for the team’s immediate success in the coming year.
Another big question is whether Trayce Jackson-Davis will return for his third year. He wanted to wait for who the next coach is before making his decision and now his decision may be a lot more difficult as he can develop a lot more under a strong coach such as Woodson. As of now, Duncomb and CJ Gunn are still expected to remain committed to Indiana as they have not said otherwise.
Once the team learns the way Woodson coaches and can adapt to a new style of play, the Hoosiers have a sky-high ceiling. Assuming everyone ends up staying, having two 5-stars (Trayce Jackson-Davis and Khristian Lander) along with numerous 4-stars, 3-stars and players that are getting better with each game, Woodson has all that is needed to build a great team and continue to recruit well within the state and beyond.
Featured Photo: Associated Press