‘Hot Rod’ Strickland ready to coach LIU men’s basketball to success

‘Hot Rod’ Strickland ready to coach LIU men’s basketball to success
Former NBA player Rod Strickland was named as Long Island University's new men's basketball head coach on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Thirty Ink)

Longtime NBA point guard Rod Strickland was named the head coach of the Long Island University Sharks men’s basketball team on Thursday.

Strickland, a Bronx native, was a first-round pick by the New York Knicks in 1988 and spent 17 years in the NBA. Strickland said in a statement he was grateful for the opportunity to return home and coach a Division-I team.

“I am appreciative to Long Island University for the opportunity to become a head coach at home, in New York City,” he said. “The Sharks are going to be a competing program for top athletes who not only want to take their game to the next level but prepare for success.”

Strickland attended DePaul University in Chicago from 1985-887, averaging 16.6 points and 6.4 assists per game. A three-time All-American, Strickland helped lead the Blue Demons to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances at Depaul. 

During his NBA career, Strickland played for nine franchises tallying more than 14,000 points and nearly 8,000 assists. Strickland was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie team during the 1988-89 season, but his best year came as a member of the Washington Wizards where he averaged nearly 18 points and more than 10 assists per game and was named to the All-NBA Second Team.

Strickland retired from the league in 2005 and is currently 13th all-time in career assists. Following his retirement, he became the director of basketball operations at the University of Memphis. He then served in an administrative role at the University of Kentucky under legendary head coach John Calipari before becoming an assistant coach at the University of South Florida.

In 2018, after his variety of collegiate roles, Strickland was hired by the G-League, the NBA’s developmental league, to serve as director for its’ professional path program. Strickland said helping young players cultivate their skills and finding ways to enhance them has always been an aspect of the game he’s fond of.

“Developing young players on and off the court has always aligned with my passion while I was playing and after retiring from the NBA,” Strickland said.

G-League President and former NBA All-Star Shareef Abdur-Rahim lauded Strickand’s work in recruiting and obtaining the necessary assets to put the league’s players in the best position to succeed, wishing him the best in his next steps.

“Rod has done a tremendous job as program director for NBA G League Ignite, from leading our recruiting efforts to aiding in the development of our young players, including six NBA Draft picks in the last two seasons,” Abdur-Rahim said in a statement. “We wish him the best with Long Island University. LIU is getting an amazing person and great basketball man.”

Long Island University President Kimberly R. Cline also praised Strickland for his ability to mentor NBA hopefuls.

“Rod Strickland has a demonstrated eye for recruiting and developing student-athletes and we are confident he will elevate Long Island University’s winning tradition to even greater heights,” Cline said in a statement.

Strickland replaces former LIU head coach Derek Kellogg, who spent five years at the helm, leading the team to a 74-74 record and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2018 after winning the Northeast Conference Tournament. The Sharks are coming off a 16-14 regular season, going 12-6 in conference play.

Strickland is now the second former NBA player to be named head coach of a Divison-I men’s basketball team in Nassau County, following Hofstra’s hire of Speedy Claxton in April 2021. Claxton, born in Hempstead, spent four years at Hofstra before being drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the 2000 NBA Draft.

Hofstra went 21-11 during Claxton’s first year as head coach, finishing third in the Colonial Athletic Conference during the regular season.

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