Michigan State men's basketball coach Tom Izzo has announced that Jim Boylen will join the Spartan program as an assistant coach. A Michigan State assistant from 1987-92, Boylen brings 13 years of NBA experience to the Spartan program.
Born on April 18, 1965, the East Grand Rapids, Michigan native was an assistant coach for five years at Michigan State under Jud Heathcote from 1987-92. As an assistant with the Spartans, he handled scouting, recruiting and game preparation while serving as the computer video coordinator. During his time at MSU, the Spartans won the Big Ten title in 1990 and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament that same year. Michigan State also advanced to the NCAA Tournament Second Round in 1991 and 1992.
After leaving Michigan State, Boylen joined the NBA's Houston Rockets. He spent 11 years in Houston as an assistant coach. During his stint in Houston, the Rockets won back-to-back NBA Championships (1994 & 1995) and advanced to the Western Conference Finals in 1997. In 11 years, the Rockets had just two losing seasons and made seven playoff appearances. Individually, he had the opportunity to work with four of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players - Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon and Scottie Pippen, while working under one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, Rudy Tomjanovich.
As an assistant, his duties included skill development, working on game and practice preparation, teaching perimeter players the Rockets' system, as well as positioning and shooting. He was also in charge of team and opponent analysis. In 2003-04, he served as an assistant at Golden State, coaching former Michigan State All-American Jason Richardson. This past season, Boylen was an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks.
"Jim Boylen adds many different dimensions to our coaching staff," said Izzo. "Having first served under Jud Heathcote, he has a familiarity with Michigan State and a loyalty to the program, while appreciating its tradition. He played a role in putting together some of the recruiting classes that started the resurgence of Michigan State basketball that played out in a Big Ten Championship and NCAA Tournament teams.
"Additionally, Jim brings 13 years of NBA experience where he had the opportunity to work with some of the greatest players of all time, while also experiencing winning at the highest level, helping guide the Houston Rockets to back-to-back NBA Championships, working under a great coach in Rudy Tomjanovich. This will be a great asset to our program as he knows what it takes to get to the NBA and what is required of a player once he is in the league. He will be able to help present and future Spartans realize their dream of one day playing in the NBA.
"In each stop during his coaching career, Jim has displayed tremendous work ethic," added Izzo. "He arrived at Michigan State as a hard-working young assistant straight out of college and immediately contributed to the team's success. When he entered the NBA, he worked his way up the coaching ladder. In time, he has become one of the most well-respected assistant coaches in the league."
"I'm thankful for this tremendous opportunity to return to Michigan State," said Boylen. "I'm going home to the place where I got started in coaching and a place where I have maintained strong relationships. It's exciting to be a part of a program so powerful and so established as the one that Tom Izzo has built. Coming from the NBA, I've been on the inside of where every player wants to go. I view it as an amazing opportunity to help young student-athletes achieve their goals.
"I was fortunate to have been hired by Coach Heathcote immediately after college. As an assistant, I was able to work closely with Coach Izzo as we developed several aspects of the Spartan program, including academic support, the video system and recruiting. As a staff, we worked to take Michigan State to a new level as we brought in recruiting classes featuring Spartan greats like Steve Smith, Shawn Respert, Eric Snow, Mike Peplowski, Matt Steigenga and Anthony Miller, guys who all went on to play in the NBA. I was also fortunate enough to recruit and coach Mark Montgomery and Dwayne Stephens. I'm definitely looking forward to working with them now as fellow assistants."
Boylen received his bachelor's degree in business from Maine in 1987. While at Maine, he captained the basketball team as a junior and senior, earning First-Team All-North Atlantic Conference honors as a senior, averaging 21 points per game. He finished second in the conference Player of the Year voting to Northeastern's Reggie Lewis. That same year, he scored 19 points and registered eight assists as Maine upset Michigan State, 84-81.