Former Parade High School All-American, All-NBA player, and most recently program director for the NBA G League Ignite Rod Strickland is coming back home to New York City. Strickland was named head men’s basketball coach at Long Island University.
“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 in a statement. “I am appreciative to Long Island University for the opportunity to become a head coach at home, in New York City. 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 replaces Derek Kellogg, who guided LIU to a 16-14 record last season. LIU competes in NCAA Division I as a member of the Northeast Conference.
Bringing Strickland home, particularly off the heels of his stint as director for the NBA G League Ignite, should help bolster recruiting at LIU. Of course LIU doesn’t have what the major programs like North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, and Duke have to offer in terms of exposure and visibility. But with the NIL and the rapidly changing landscape of collegiate athletics anything is possible.
As a former NBA player Strickland will also have cachet that will mean something to recruits who might be looking at LIU as a springboard. He knows what it takes to make it in the NBA as a 17-year veteran of the league and he’s mentored current NBA players, including his godson the mercurial Kyrie Irving.
Strickland played AAU ball for the famed New York Gauchos with players like Kenny Anderson, Ed Pinckney, Mark Jackson, and Chris Mullin. He led Truman High School to the New York state title as a junior.
At DePaul University Strickland became a college star. He was named First Team All-America as a junior after averaging 20 points and 7.8 assists. He was named an All-American again his senior season and helped lead the Blue Demons to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 1985–86 to 1987–88, including the Sweet 16 in 1986 and 1987.
Strickland was drafted in the first round, 19th overall, by his hometown New York Knicks. He played backup to 1988 rookie of the year and his former Gauchos teammate Mark Jackson. Strickland played in all 82 games and was named to the NBA All-Rookie team.
From 1990 to 1998 is when Strickland saw his most success in the NBA. During that period with the San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers, and Washington Wizards he averaged 16 points and eight assists per game. During the 1997-98 season he led the league in assists and made second team All-NBA. He is 13th on the NBA’s all-time assists leaders list. His teams made the playoffs in eight of those nine seasons.
Strickland’s first foray into coaching was in 2006 at the University of Memphis under then-head coach John Calipari, where he served as director of basketball operations. In 2009 he went with Calipari to the University of Kentucky, where he continued to learn his craft.
If working with young athletes and developing them for life on and off the floor is his sole mission, LIU might be the right place for him to be.