TJ Otzelberger has his head coaching job. Iowa State’s top assistant will be named the new head coach at South Dakota State this week, per a report by ESPN‘s Jeff Goodman. He’ll take over for Scott Nagy, who left to take the job at Wright State after the Jackrabbits won the Summitt League title this season.
It’s long been known that Otzelberger, 38, has wanted to become a head coach sooner rather than later. Now it appears the Milwaukee native will get his first chance in that capacity at the Division I level with the Jacks.
Otzelberger returned to Iowa State in April 2015 and was retained by Steve Prohm after Fred Hoiberg left to take over as head coach of the Chicago Bulls. He had previously coached at ISU under Greg McDermott from 2006 to 2010, then was promoted to associate head coach when Hoiberg was hired in 2010. Otzelberger was also a finalist for the ISU head coaching job when Hoiberg left.
In 2013, he headed West and spent two seasons as the associate head coach under Lorenzo Romar at Washington before returning to Ames with his twins and wife, former Cyclone basketball star Alison Lacey.
Otzelberger will be remembered at Iowa State as an ace recruiter who played a huge role in bringing Melvin Ejim, Craig Brackins, Mike Taylor, Scott Christopherson, Will Clyburn, Naz Mitrou-Long, Matt Thomas and others to Ames.
Otzelberger will be a big loss for the Cyclones, especially on the recruiting trail, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that he’s heading off to be a head coach. It seemed to be a matter of when he took a job rather than if.
He was even the leading candidate at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and was told he would be getting the job, according to a report by Milwaukee radio station WTMJ, before the school hired former Michigan assistant LaVall Jordan.
From a pure basketball sense, Otzelberger might have gotten the better end of the deal as SDSU has been one of the most successful mid-major programs over the past several years. He’ll take over a team that lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament and returns their leading scorer in freshman Mike Daum.