Bloomington – Indiana has added a big man for the 2008-09 season after all.
That person isn't a player, but rather a coach. Former Duke standout and NBA player Roshown McLeod was introduced last week as the final member of Tom Crean's basketball coaching staff, joining Tim Buckley and Bennie Seltzer as the team's three full-time assistants.
The 6'8" McLeod can't do anything to address the shortage of big men on the Hoosiers' roster, but he will play a big role in developing the few big bodies that IU has in its arsenal. One of his primary responsibilities will be mentoring and developing the inside players such as newcomers Tijan Jobe and Tom Pritchard.
A former first-team All-ACC player under Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, McLeod was the 20th pick in the first round of the 1998 draft by the Atlanta Hawks. He spent four seasons in the NBA before having his pro career cut short by a nerve injury to his leg, but he still plans on being out on the court with his players as often as is necessary.
"I will practice with the guys at times, getting in so I can show them what they can do instead of just telling them," McLeod said. "They'll get a good visual of what needs to be done for us to continue to have success."
While Crean quickly had Selzer, Buckley and Director of Basketball Operations Brian Barone in place after he was hired in April, it took him more than four months to fill his final assistant coaching vacancy. One of the primary reasons was that IU's self-imposed sanctions prevented that coach from going on the road to recruit, one of the primary off-season responsibilities of most assistants.
But McLeod was a name that surfaced as a possibility more than a month ago, and Crean and McLeod had been in contact numerous times as of late. Crean wanted to take the necessary time to get to know McLeod to make sure he'd be a good fit on his staff, and McLeod wanted to do the same with Crean to make sure he was getting into a good situation as well.
"He wanted to make sure I was the right guy for the job, and I wanted to make sure I wasn't getting into a situation where the coach was crazy," McLeod said.
Ultimately, both decided it was a good fit.
"It was right," McLeod said. "It was the right situation at the right time."
While McLeod's resume as a player is a lengthy one, this marks just his second Division I coaching job. He spent one season as an assistant at Fairfield University in 2002-03, and has been spending his time coaching at the high school and AAU levels in the Atlanta area ever since. Most recently, he was the head coach at the Woodward Academy and was also working with the Atlanta Celtics and Georgia Stars AAU programs as well.
But with a goal of same day being a head coach, McLeod decided it was time to get back into the college game.
"I love college basketball because of the pageantry, I love it because there's a lot more where kids are throwing themselves into the mix as opposed to the business of basketball. There's more love to it," McLeod said.
There are few places that love college basketball more than Bloomington, which also made IU an appealing option for McLeod. He's also looking forward to working under Crean, a coach whose style and approach have long impressed McLeod.
"I've watched his teams play in the past and they really play hard and tough, and it's something I've always been a part of in my career," said McLeod, who played under legendary high school coach Bob Hurley at St. Anthony's (N.J.) H.S. "That's the first thing, the foundation. You can't teach toughness, and when you have players like that and a coach who is willing to take players that aren't necessarily pros and can turn them into top notch guys, you love that about a coach."
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