The Fred Hoiberg-to-the-Bulls rumor mill is sure to be churning now that Chicago has officially fired Tom Thibodeau, but it appears that Hoiberg already has his sights set on the NBA regardless.
In a report by Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune, the Cyclones coach apparently told five-star recruit Cheick Diallo that he could not say whether or not he would in fact be coaching at Iowa State for the 2015-16 season.
In early April, Hoiberg let it be known to five-star recruit Cheick Diallo that his immediate future at ISU was not a certainty, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told the Ames Tribune.
While Hoiberg did not definitively say he planned to move on to the NBA, sources said, he also communicated that he couldn’t fully commit he would be returning to ISU to coach Diallo and what figures to be a preseason top-10 Cyclones team in 2015-16.
Diallo ended up committing to Kansas, so one can’t help but wonder what could have been if Hoiberg had not let slip that he wasn’t sure if he’d be back with the program this coming season. He played 10 NBA seasons, four of which were with the Bulls, and let’s not forget that three other NBA teams in New Orleans, Orlando and Denver also have head coaching vacancies that need to be filled.
As tempting as the calls of the professional ranks are, however, one has to assume that this has to be an incredibly tough decision on Hoiberg’s part. As an Iowa State alum and the man who ranks third among the program’s all-time leading scorers, walking away from basically bringing the team out of the dumps and into regular championship contention must be incredibly hard.
Think of him as someone who builds a business from the ground up, watches it succeed incredibly, only to step down and pursue other opportunities.
Now, consider what Hoiberg has done with Iowa State.
In five seasons, he has gone 115-56 (49-39 Big 12) and has won two consecutive Big 12 Conference championships. In four of those five years, the team has made the NCAA Tournament, getting as far as the Sweet Sixteen in 2014.
Prior to Hoiberg’s arrival, Iowa State had not made the big dance since 2005, and had not advanced past the Round of 32 since 2000, when Larry Eustachy was head coach. Long story short, the idea of unfinished business could find a spot in the back of his mind if he DOES make the jump to the pros, regardless of how well he does with the Bulls.
Granted, nothing is set in stone yet, as Thibodeau was only just fired today and Hoiberg hasn’t even interviewed with the Bulls, though reports have surfaced that the job is his if he wants it. Just the same, the words of ISU AD Jamie Pollard ring loud now that Hoiberg’s departure is a possibility.
“(Hoiberg) has always said from day one that his lifelong goal has been to coach in the NBA,” Pollard said on May 12 in Ottumwa at a tailgate tour stop. “It’s for him to decide when that part of his life he wants to activate.
“Now it’s just strictly a decision for him and their family personally, not what he wants to do because he’s made that clear. (The NBA is) what he wants to do. It’s a matter of when he wants to do it.”
Hopefully, Hoiberg’s decision comes sooner rather than later.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports