Now in his eighth year with the Iowa State men’s basketball program, Associate Head Coach T.J. Otzelberger has established himself as a rising star in the world of college basketball. His relentless work ethic in recruiting, scouting and player development has helped the Cyclones land a number of top-notch recruits and elevated the program back into the national spotlight. Otzelberger was promoted to Associate Head Coach in 2010.
During the the last two seasons, Otzelberger was in charge of all opponent scouting reports and implementation of game plans as the Cyclones recorded two of their greatest campaigns in school history.
Iowa State made its second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2012-13 despite losing its top-three scorers from the season before. Led by four all-conference players, the Cyclones went 23-12 overall and 11-7 in league play, marking just the second time in school history where the Cyclones posted back-to-back 10-win conference seasons. ISU also defeated three ranked opponents and mounted a 22-game homecourt winning streak, tying for the second-best string in school history, as the Cyclones went 16-1 at home.
There wasn’t a more exciting team to watch than the Cyclones in 2012-13. ISU led all “power-six” conference teams and ranked third nationally in scoring at 79.4 ppg. ISU also led the nation in 3-pointers per game (9.9), breaking the Big 12 record and tying for the 14th-best total in NCAA history.
In 2011-12, Iowa State earned its first NCAA Tournament berth in seven years, won 23 games, tying for the fourth-best total in school history, and went 12-6 in Big 12 play, the third-most league wins in the history of Cyclone basketball.
Picked to finish eighth in the preseason Big 12 Coaches poll, Iowa State tied for third in the Big 12 Conference en route to the biggest turnaround in league history (+9 wins). Iowa State had four all-conference players, led by All-Big 12 First-Team and Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Royce White, who also earned honorable mention All-America honors and was the 16th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. The four all-conference players were the most by an ISU team since 2001.
ISU defeated national champion Connecticut in the second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to No. 1 seed and eventual national champion, Kentucky. The Cyclones also defeated two Top 10 opponents (Kansas and Baylor) at home for the first time since 1992 and appeared in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2005.
Among the outstanding recruits Otzelberger has helped bring to Ames: Craig Brackins, a two-time All-Big 12 performer; Diante Garrett, ISU’s second-best career assist man and current NBA player; Mike Taylor, an All-Big 12 performer and 2008 NBA Draft pick; Melvin Ejim, an All-Big 12 Third-Team pick in 2013 who led the Big 12 in both rebounding (9.3) and double-doubles (15); Scott Christopherson, Iowa State’s all-time leading three-point shooter and an All-Big 12 Third-Team pick in 2012; and Will Clyburn, the 2013 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.
Brackins, who is one of nine Cyclones in school history to be drafted in the first round, was selected at No. 21 in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Garrett finished off an outstanding Cyclone career in 2011, earning All-Big 12 Second-Team honors after averaging 17.3 points and leading the Big 12 in assists at 6.1 apg. In 2008, Taylor became the 17th Cyclone in school history to play in the NBA, earning a spot on the Los Angeles Clipper roster. White, who was a Naismith Award Watch List member, led the team in scoring, rebounding, assists, blocks and assists in 2011-12, the only player in the country to achieve the feat. Christopherson ended his career as the most efficient 3-point shooter in school history, making 44.3 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. Ejim became the first Cyclone to lead the league in rebounding since 2004 and Clyburn was an All-Big 12 Second-Team selection.
During Otzelberger’s time in Ames, the Cyclones have had 13 All-Big 12 performers (Taylor, Wesley Johnson, Jiri Hubalek, Brackins, Marquis Gilstrap, Garrett, Christopherson, White, Ejim, Chris Allen, Clyburn, Tyrus McGee and Korie Lucious) and produced the top-11 single-game three-point performances in school history.
The Cyclones have also excelled in the classroom during Otzelberger’s tenure. Three of the best cumulative semester team GPAs in the program’s history have been achieved since 2010. For the first time in school history, the Cyclones, as a team, achieved a cumulative 3.0 GPA in the spring semester of 2011 and had a league-best four players earn academic All-Big 12 honors in 2011-12, including three members on the First-Team.
In the community, Otzelberger is highly involved with the Boys and Girls Club of Ames. He assisted in bringing the NABC’s “Stay in to Win” program to Central Iowa, a seminar focusing on developing student-athlete success and dropout prevention. He is also a member of the Villa 7 Consortium, which aims to develop the nation’s top assistant coaches. Otzelberger was an assistant at Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Florida, for the 2004-05 season, a year in which the Indians finished 33-4, won the Panhandle Conference and placed fourth at the 2005 NJCAA national tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas.
Otzelberger spent three seasons at Catholic Central High School in Burlington, Wisconsin, serving as an assistant varsity and junior varsity coach his first two years before taking over as head coach and athletic director in his final year at the high school level (2003-04). He also served as a physical education instructor at the high school.
A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Otzelberger was born on September 17, 1977. He was a two-year team captain at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, while earning his degree in business administration in 2001. He earned his Masters of Science degree in Curriculum and Instruction from UW-Whitewater in 2004.