It’s now official. Jankovich, who served under Bill Self as an assistant at Illinois (2002-03) and Kansas (2003-07), was named the new head coach of Illinois State this morning at a press conference from Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena. Jankovich will still complete his coaching duties with KU through the NCAA Tournament as the ‘Hawks begin the Sweet 16 in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday.
The Redbirds are getting a seasoned, bright coach who has coached under tremendous mentors like Self, Eddie Sutton, Jack Hartman, Lon Kruger, Boyd Grant, Gene Iba and former KU aide and Illinois State head coach Kevin Stallings.
"We are excited to be hiring a coach with the experience and expertise of Tim Jankovich," said Illinois State athletic director Dr. Sheahon Zenger. "His coaching pedigree is unmatched and he has a basketball mind of the highest level. He is a man of great intellect and I believe Tim will be a great fit for Redbird basketball and the Redbird family."
And Jankovich couldn’t happier to be the new coach at Illinois and returning to the state where he had so much success as an assistant under Self. Jankovich helped guide the Fighting Illini to the NCAA Sweet 16 and Elite Eight.
"I'm pleased and honored to be selected as the next head basketball coach at Illinois State, a prestigious university with a tradition-rich basketball program," Jankovich said. "I've always been impressed with Illinois State and the Bloomington-Normal community and I'm looking forward to settling there with my family and building the Redbird basketball program.
"There are many reasons to get excited about joining the university and community, but none more important than having an opportunity to work for a president and athletic director who share a vision and a commitment to excellence. I have found that in Dr. (Al) Bowman and Dr. Zenger."
Regarded as one of the top recruiters in college basketball, Jankovich will hope to revive a program that hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since Stallings led the Redbirds to the Big Dance in 1998. Jankovich will be joining Wichita State head coach and former KU standout Mark Turgeon in the Missouri Valley Conference.
"This is such a tremendous time in Missouri Valley Conference history," Jankovich said. "Not since the days of Wes Unseld and Oscar Robertson has the conference been playing at such a high, national level. There are a lot of great coaches in this league and I'm friends with a number of them. It is easily one of the best coaching conferences in the country."
Self is certainly happy for his buddy and for Illinois State.
"Tim is one of the brightest coaches, at any level, that I've had the pleasure to be around,” Self said. “He has a great basketball mind, one that is very creative, and he has the ability to get a team to play to its full potential. Tim will be a breath of fresh air in the Bloomington-Normal community. He is talented, sharp, hardworking and has great people skills. ...This should be an exciting time for Illinois State."
Boyd Grant, former head coach at Colorado State and Fresno State, agrees.
"When I was the head coach at Colorado State, it didn't take me long to figure out that I had a great assistant in Tim Jankovich,” Grant said. “I always had great trust in my assistants, and divvied up the coaching tasks amongst them. Tim was responsible for implementing a large portion of our offensive schemes at Colorado State. He comes from a great pedigree, coaching under guys like Jack Hartman, Eddie Sutton and Bill Self, and beyond that, his recruiting experience is really going to benefit Illinois State. Coach Jankovich will identify with the players very easily. He will be not only a coach but a mentor to them. Tim is a stand-up guy and a class act, and everyone in Illinois State's athletic department from the administration down to the other coaches and the student-athletes, will be very happy that they made this decision."
Recruits should also be impressed with Jankovich’s ability to help players get to the next level. Just listen to current Utah Jazz players and former Illinois standouts Dee Brown and Deron Williams.
"I really think he is going do a great job at Illinois State,” Brown said. “He taught me a lot about the game and really worked with me on my shooting. When he first came to Illinois, he met with me and really took an interest in helping me make my game better. That really meant a lot to me, since he wasn't even the coach that recruited me. I think the players at Illinois State are going to enjoy playing for Coach Jankovich. They're getting a great coach."
Williams, who has blossomed into one of the best point guards in the NBA, credits Jankovich for his development.
"Coach Jankovich is a real laid back guy and he knows how to talk and teach his players,” Williams said. “He knows a lot about the game, because he was a player himself. I know personally, he helped me considerably with my free throws and gave me some shooting tips. Illinois State is getting a great coach...one that truly knows the game of basketball."
Jankovich Named ISU Head Coach
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