Fred Hoiberg could be the most popular basketball player in Iowa State history. Playing collegiately in his hometown of Ames, Iowa, “The Mayor” captured the imagination of the entire state of Iowa during his ISU career from 1991-95. Besides his popularity, however, another argument could be made that Hoiberg was the most versatile athlete to don the Cardinal and Gold. The 6-4 guard/forward ended his illustrious Cyclone career ranking among the top 10 in seven different statistical categories (scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, field goals, 3-point field goals and free throws). What is more impressive about Hoiberg’s career at ISU, is that he achieved all of his feats while maintaining a 3.0 GPA, earning first-team academic All-America honors his senior season.
Hoiberg was a hot commodity in 1991 after leading his Ames High School basketball team to the Class 3A state championship and earning back-to-back first-team all-state selections. A full-time starter since his sophomore season, Hoiberg was generally considered one of the top high school guard prospects in the country, narrowing his college choices down to Arizona, Stanford and Iowa State. Luckily for the Cyclones and head coach Johnny Orr, Hoiberg decided to stay at home and play for ISU.
As a freshman in 1991-92, Hoiberg wasted little time making his presence known, earning The Associated Press’ Big Eight Conference Freshman of the Year award, the first Cyclone to do so. Hoiberg and the Cyclones won 16 of their first 19 games, leading ISU to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 1988-89 season. Hoiberg ended the year averaging 12.1 ppg, leading ISU in field goal percentage (57.3), free throw percentage (81.0) and steals (65). He also established a school record by connecting on 34-straight free throws, a mark that still stands.
After his first-year heroics, the legend of Fred Hoiberg was beginning to grow. Because of his overwhelming popularity in the city of Ames, Hoiberg was dubbed “The Mayor” by his teammates. As a sophomore (1992-93), his role changed slightly, becoming more of a rebounder and defender than a scorer for a team that was ranked in the preseason top 20. He ended the season averaging 11.6 ppg, but was the team’s top rebounder with a 6.3 rpg average. The team made its second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, bowing to UCLA in the first round.
The following season was Hoiberg’s best statistically, despite the Cyclones’ 14-13 finish. ISU suffered a major setback when starting center Loren Meyer was injured, forcing Hoiberg to pick up much of the load for the young Cyclones. As the year unfolded, Hoiberg put together arguably the greatest all-around season in Cyclone history, ranking in the Big Eight’s top 10 in seven different categories (free-throw pct., 2nd-86.4; 3-point pct., 3rd-45.0; field goal pct., 5th-53.5; scoring, 6th-20.2; steals, 8th-1.7; assists, 10th-3.6; rebounding, 10th-6.7). Amazing as it seems, Hoiberg was left off the Big Eight first-team list, mustering only a second-team selection despite his laurels.
Entering his senior season, “The Mayor” was ready to prove his capabilities to the nation and new head coach Tim Floyd. With Meyer healthy again and a strong supporting cast returning, ISU quickly rose in the national polls. During the season, Hoiberg capped off his legend with some of the most memorable single-game performances in Cyclone history. Against No. 3 Kansas in front of a raucous, sold-out Hilton Coliseum, Hoiberg poured in 32 points, including a stretch of 17-straight points in the second half to help upset KU 69-65. Less than a month later, he tallied 41 points vs. Colorado, only the sixth player in Cyclone history to break the 40-point barrier in a ballgame.
Statistically, Hoiberg was just as impressive, ranking third in the conference in scoring (19.9 ppg), first in free-throw percentage (86.1) and third in 3-point percentage (41.2). ISU also had a formidable team, making it to the finals of the Big Eight Tournament and the second round of the NCAA Tournament while amassing a then-school-record 23 wins. Hoiberg was rewarded for his exploits, earning first-team all-Big Eight and All-America honors. He was later named co-Big Eight Male Athlete of the Year and ISU Athlete of the Year. He is one of five Cyclones to be named conference male athlete of the year (Chris Taylor, Tim Krieger, Mike Busch, Cael Sanderson).
After finishing his ISU career as the school’s No. 3 all-time leading scorer (1,993) and top 3-point shooter (183), Hoiberg looked to the NBA as his employer. He impressed the pro scouts at the NABC All-Star game, where he was named MVP after scoring 20 points and drilling six treys. The Indiana Pacers liked Hoiberg’s credentials, drafting him in the second round of the 1995 NBA draft. Hoiberg was a member of the Indiana team that made it to the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals before being eliminated by eventual NBA champion Chicago in a hard-fought seven-game series. Hoiberg was later traded to Chicago and then to Minnesota, where he developed into one of the most feared marksman in the NBA. In his first year with the Timberwolves, Hoiberg’s clutch 3-point bombs helped Minnesota reach the Western Conference Finals in 2004, leading the league in 3-point percentage with better then 48 percent. Hoiberg retired after the 2004-05 season, having spent 10 years in the NBA. Hoiberg left the NBA hardwood and made his way directly into the front office as Minnesota's assistant general manager.
His Iowa State jersey (32) joined an elite class of six ISU jerseys to be put into official retirement in 1997.