Fred Hoiberg – a favorite son and native of Ames, a Cyclone basketball legend, a 10-year NBA veteran and former executive with the Minnesota Timberwolves – was introduced April 28, 2010 in front of a packed audience in the Jacobson Athletic Building as the 19th head men’s basketball coach in Iowa State University history.
In four years, The Mayor has resurrected his alma mater into a force on the national level, orchestrating the biggest turnaround in Big 12 history in 2011-12 and guiding the Cyclones to three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances (2012-2014) for just the second time in school history (1995-97). Hoiberg’s 91 wins are the most by an ISU head coach in their first four years leading the program.
Following the 2013 season, the Iowa State Athletics Department affirmed the success of Hoiberg by agreeing to a 10-year, $20 million deal to keep Hoiberg on the bench at Hilton Coliseum through 2023.
Iowa State again reloaded after losing three starters from 2012-13’s NCAA Tournament team. Hoiberg brought in a talented trio of players in graduated senior transfer DeAndre Kane, JUCO transfer Dustin Hogue and freshman Monté Morris to play alongside stalwarts Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang. Together, along with the development of sharpshooters Naz Long and Matt Thomas, Iowa State posted one of the best seasons in school history.
The 2013-14 season, Hoiberg’s fourth in Ames, was an incredible ride that Cyclone fans won’t soon forget. ISU went 28-8 overall, earned championship trophies at the Diamond Head Classic and Big 12 Tournament and advanced to the school’s fourth Sweet 16. With an 11-7 record (tied for third in the Big 12) in conference play, Iowa State has posted three-straight 10-win seasons in league play for the first time in school history.
The season was filled with excitement. The program opened the season winning a school-record 14 games in a row. Iowa State defeated a program-record nine teams ranked in the Associated Press top-25 and became the first school in Big 12 history to have five different players earn Big 12 Player of the Week honors.
Much of the team’s success can be attributed to Ejim and Kane and the duo was handsomely rewarded for their efforts. While Hoiberg has been lauded for his success with transfers, it was his first four-year player, Ejim, that was named the Big 12 Player of the Year. Kane took home honors as the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, the third-straight Cyclone to earn that honor. The duo also earned numerous All-America nods, with Ejim being named a Capital One Academic All-American as well.
The Cyclones earned the school’s 16th NCAA Tournament appearance, beating North Carolina Central in the second round. The win came at a cost, as All-Big 12 Third-Team pick Niang suffered a broken foot in the game. The Cyclones rallied as one in the next round, beating North Carolina on a Kane buzzer-beater, to advance to the Sweet 16. The Cyclones fell to Connecticut at Madison Square Garden the following weekend.
The Cyclones were again terrific at Hilton Coliseum, finishing 15-1 at home, their second-straight season with just a single home loss. The season featured 13 sellouts in which Cyclone fans were treated to wins over six nationally-ranked teams, including top-10 foes Baylor and Michigan.
Despite losing its top-three scorers from 2011-12, Hoiberg led ISU to a fourth-place finish in the Big 12 (11-7) and a 23-12 overall mark in 2012-13.
Led by four All-Big 12 performers, including Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Will Clyburn, the Cyclones earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament, defeating Notre Dame in the second round. ISU defeated three ranked teams and posted the sixth-best all-time winning percentage in Hilton Coliseum at 16-1.
Picked to finish eighth in the 2011-12 Big 12 preseason poll, Hoiberg’s Cyclones responded by tying for third in the Big 12, amassing 23 wins overall and going 12-6 in league play, a +9 conference-win improvement from the previous season. The 23 wins tied for the fourth-most in school history and the 12 conference victories is the third-best total in the Iowa State record book.
Hoiberg significantly upgraded the talent in the Sukup Basketball Complex and his team responded by producing one of the finest seasons in school history. The Cyclones earned a berth in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, ending a six-year drought, and appeared in the Associated Press’ top-25 for the first time since 2005. The Cyclones dethroned defending national champion Connecticut in the second round of the NCAA Championship before falling to No. 1 seed and eventual national champion Kentucky.
Other highlights of the 2011-12 season were: two wins over top-10 opponents (Kansas and Baylor) and tying the school record for most conference home victories with eight.
At season’s end, the awards and honors poured in. Hoiberg was named 2012 Big 12 Co-Coach of the Year and four Cyclones earned all-conference recognition, the most since 2001. Royce White was named All-Big 12 First-Team as well as the National Newcomer of the Year by the Basketball Times after leading the team in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocks.
Perhaps the biggest accomplishment in Hoiberg’s successful tenure at ISU is the re-birth of “Hilton Magic.” Fans are coming out in droves to watch the Cyclones play, selling out Hilton Coliseum 24 times, averaging over 14,000 fans per game and ranking in the top-25 nationally in the last two seasons. Hoiberg strung together a 22-game homecourt winning streak, the third-best active streak in the nation when it ended and tying for the second-best streak in school history.
With an exciting, up-tempo style, Hoiberg’s squads have ranked among the nation’s top-10 in scoring in each of the last two seasons, including fifth at 83.0 points per game in 2013-14.
Building teams surrounded by outstanding shooters has also become a Hoiberg trademark. The top-four single-season 3-pointers made totals have been achieved under his watch, including a school- and Big 12-record 346 treys set in 2013, as the Cyclones led the nation in 3-pointers per game at 9.9. Ten of the top 12 single-game 3-pointers made efforts in school history have also occurred in the four-year Hoiberg era.
One of Hoiberg’s top shooters, Tyrus McGee, became the first Cyclone to lead the nation in statistical category when McGee made 46.4 percent of his 3-point shots in 2012-13. In 2013-14, Monté Morris followed McGee’s lead and became the second Cyclone to lead the nation in a stat category when the freshman shattered the NCAA record with a 4.79 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Hoiberg has coached 10 players who have earned All-Big 12 recognition, including Ejim and Kane, who became the sixth and seventh Cyclones in Big 12 history to earn first-team all-league honors by the conference coaches. In 2011-12, Royce White was a first-team selection in addition to earning honorable mention All-America honors and being picked 16th in the 2012 NBA Draft.
In his first season with the Cyclones (2010-11), Hoiberg inherited a team unanimously picked to finish last in the Big 12 with just two returnees from the season before. The rookie coach wasted little time implementing his system and instilling his philosophies, as the Cyclones raced out to a 13-2 start, the second-best beginning by a first-year Cyclone coach with two losses.
Hoiberg’s Cyclones surprised many in his rookie campaign, finishing the year with a 16-16 mark, the first .500 or above record by an Iowa State team since 2005-06. Basketball Times recognized Hoiberg’s work in his first season, naming him the 2011 National Rookie Coach of the Year.
The Cyclones have also excelled in the classroom in The Mayor’s term in office. In 2013-14, Ejim joined Hoiberg as the only Iowa State players to be named a first-team Academic All-American.
Three of the best cumulative semester GPAs in the program’s history have been obtained under Hoiberg. For the first time in school history, the Cyclones as a team achieved a cumulative 3.0 GPA in the spring semester of 2011. The Cyclones had a league-best four players earn Academic All-Big 12 honors in 2011-12, including three members on the first-team (Scott Christopherson, Melvin Ejim, Bubu Palo).
Hoiberg spent the 2009-10 season in his first year as Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, a role in which he oversaw day-to-day operations of the basketball program including college and pro scouting, salary cap management and NBA Draft preparations. Prior to that, he worked three years as the club’s assistant general manager.
It was Hoiberg’s play at Hilton Coliseum in the 1990s, however, that endeared him to Cyclone fans. One of the school’s most-admired competitors, Hoiberg averaged 15.8 points and is the school’s third all-time leading scorer (1,993 points).
Part of Hoiberg’s introduction to Cyclone basketball was as one of the school’s first ball boys. In a game against Windsor in 1986, then ISU-star Jeff Hornacek landed on Hoiberg, sprained his ankle and missed the rest of the game. “Injuring the best player in school history wasn’t how I wanted to be remembered,” Hoiberg said later. Rest assured, his personal story soon turned for the better.
The versatile and heady guard/forward, who grew up in Ames, was called “The Mayor” by his teammates. As his popularity skyrocketed on campus and in his hometown, people started calling him simply “Fred” or “the Mayor” and you knew who they were talking about. That nickname was, apparently, appropriate evidenced by the fact he received multiple write-in votes in the 1993 Ames mayoral race.
The Cyclones won 78 games and played in three NCAA Tournaments in his career. Hoiberg’s sweet stroke from long distance may have been his calling card, but his overall game was outstanding and fundamentally sound.
He played in 126 career games (the first three years for Coach Johnny Orr and the last one for Coach Tim Floyd) with the Cyclones and was a major contributor each year.
As a rookie, he earned AP Big Eight Freshman of the Year honors after scoring 12.1 ppg and establishing a school record with 34 consecutive made free throws. That Cyclone club made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1989.
In his second season, Hoiberg’s role changed slightly and he was the top rebounder (6.3 rpg), despite standing just 6-foot-4, for another post-season team.
Hoiberg averaged 20.2 points per game, ranked in the conference’s Top 10 in seven categories and was named second-team All-Big Eight as a junior.
In his senior season and second year as team captain, he led the Cyclones to a then-school record 23 wins and the NCAA Tournament’s second round. Hoiberg averaged 19.9 ppg on the way to All-America and first-team all-league honors. He was named co-Big Eight Male Athlete of the Year.
Hoiberg had many memorable games as a Cyclone. He poured in 32 points, including a remarkable 17 straight in the second half, of a 69-65 upset of third-ranked Kansas in 1995. Later that season, Hoiberg tallied a career-best 41 points in a conference win over Colorado. His three-point play (layup and then the game-winning free throw) with 9.4 seconds left helped ISU defeat second-ranked Oklahoma State 84-83 in overtime in 1992.
The contributions that Hoiberg made to both his school and home city have been recognized many times. His jersey #32 was retired by ISU in 1997 and hangs in the rafters at Hilton Coliseum. Hoiberg was inducted into the Iowa State Letterwinners’ Hall of Fame in 2005 and recognized as part of the men’s basketball program’s All-Century team in 2008. On Feb. 9, 1997, Mayor Larry Curtis proclaimed it to be “Fred Hoiberg Day” during a Cyclone game.
Hoiberg was a second-round NBA draft pick (52nd overall) by the Indiana Pacers in 1995. He was also chosen #1 overall (by the Cedar Rapids Silver Bullets) in the 1995 CBA draft that year, but he joined the Pacers (where he played four seasons) to begin a decade long NBA career.
He also played for the Chicago Bulls (four years) and Minnesota Timberwolves (two years) and scored 2,944 points in 541 regular-season games. Hoiberg connected on a league-best 48.3 percent of his three-point shots in 2004-05 with Minnesota. But, his pro career ended abruptly at the age of 33 after undergoing open-heart surgery to repair an aneurysm in his aortic root. Hoiberg considered a comeback but, ultimately, accepted an administrative post with the Timberwolves.
Hoiberg readily admits his experiences in the NBA – playing for coaches such as Larry Brown and Larry Bird at Indiana, Tim Floyd in Chicago and Flip Saunders and Kevin McHale with Minnesota – helped shape his coaching beliefs.
As a prep, Hoiberg starred in both basketball and football at Ames High School. He was named Iowa’s Mr. Basketball as well as Gatorade’s State Player of the Year in football as a quarterback. Hoiberg led the Little Cyclones to the 1991 state high school basketball championship and averaged 38.1 points in six tournament games. In 2012, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) inducted Hoiberg into its national Hall of Fame.
Hoiberg earned his finance degree from Iowa State University in 1995. He was a first-team academic All-American as a senior, a second-team pick as a junior and a three-time honoree on the Big Eight All-Academic team. There was certainly an academic background in his family as both of his parents – dad (Eric) at Iowa State and mom (Karen) in elementary school – had teaching careers.
Fred and his wife, Carol, met in high school and attended Iowa State together. They are the parents of four children (Paige, Jack and twins Sam and Charlie).
Iowa State Head Coach (2011-)
Fred Hoiberg Coaching Ledger