Kirk Speraw is in his 11th season as an assistant coach at Iowa. Speraw, who has over four decades of coaching experience, assists in all aspects of the program including recruiting, opponent scouting, practices, player development and game preparation.
Speraw has helped rejuvenate the Iowa basketball program since arriving at Iowa in 2010. Not only has the attendance at Carver-Hawkeye Arena increased by more than 50 percent, but Speraw has helped vault the program back to national prominence on a consistent basis. Iowa achieved its highest national since 1987, when it was ranked as high as No. 3 on Jan. 25, 2016, and was ranked the final 11 weeks of the 2016. The Hawkeyes were nationally-ranked for 16 consecutive weeks in 2019 and the final nine weeks of the 2020 season.
Fran McCaffery and his coaching staff are the first in program history to win 18 or more games in six straight seasons (2012-17), while winning 20 games or more six of the last eight years. Speraw and the Hawkeyes are one of three teams to register upper division finishes in the Big Ten at least seven of the last eight seasons. Iowa has averaged 20 wins the last nine seasons, with its 183 victories between 2013-20 being the most over a nine-year span at Iowa since 1986-94.
Last season, Speraw helped the nationally-ranked Hawkeyes total 20 regular season wins and a likely invitation to its fourth NCAA Tournament in six years if not for the cancellation of the postseason due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Speraw helped coach unanimous consensus first-team All-American Luka Garza. The junior center was named National Player of the Year by a handful of major news outlets, while also earning Big Ten Player of the Year and USBWA District VI Player of the Year distinction. He also mentored rookie guard CJ Fredrick in leading the entire Big Ten in 3-point accuracy, making 46.1 percent of his attempts.
Two years ago, the Hawkeyes amassed 23 victories, the program’s second highest total in 13 seasons, closely behind 25 wins in 2013 when reaching the NIT championship game. Iowa placed third in the Big Ten, and won a game in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in five years.
The past 10 years at Iowa Speraw helped coach 15 Hawkeyes to professional contracts, including Devyn Marble and Aaron White, who were selected by the Orlando Magic (2014) and Washington Wizards (2015) in the NBA Draft, respectively.
Speraw has helped mentor nine Hawkeyes to All-Big Ten status during his tenure, including five first team honorees: Roy Devyn Marble (2014), Aaron White (2015), Jarrod Uthoff (2016), Peter Jok (2017), and Luka Garza (2020). In addition to the all-conference accolades, Garza, Uthoff, and Jok were All-Americans. Dillard helped develop frontcourt players Gabriel Olaseni and Nicholas Baer, who were each voted Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year in 2015 and 2017, respectively. He also helped coach seven All-Big Ten Freshman performers (Eric May in 2010; Melsahn Basabe in 2011; Aaron White in 2012; Jordan Bohannon and Tyler Cook in 2017; Joe Wieskamp in 2019; CJ Fredrick in 2020).
Speraw is the primary assistant who works with Iowa’s perimeter players. In 2017, shooting guard Peter Jok became Iowa’s fifth Big Ten scoring champion in school history, averaging 19.9 points per game. Jok also established new school free throw records in single-game makes (22), career percentage (.864), and single-season accuracy (.911).
Speraw also helped mentor guard Jordan Bohannon to historic heights. Bohannon became Iowa’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made as a junior in 2019, making 264 triples. He shattered the team’s freshman single-season record in assists (175) and 3-pointers made (89). Jok and Bohannon combined for 174 triples, the most by a duo in a single season at Iowa. As a sophomore, Bohannon’s production etched his name in the Hawkeye record books. Bohannon recorded three double-doubles as a sophomore to bring his career double-doubles in points and assists to a program-best six. He is the sixth Hawkeye in program history to total more than 400 points and 150 assists in a season. Bohannon is the only NCAA player to total more than 150 assists and 80 3-pointers as a freshman and sophomore over the last 25 years. Lastly, he made 34 consecutive free throws to share Iowa’s consecutive free throws made record with the legendary Chris Street.
Speraw, who is a Sioux City, Iowa, native was a two-time Hawkeye letterman (1978-79) who played for Hall of Fame head coach Lute Olson. He was a member of the 1978-79 squad that won 20 contests and a Big Ten title. As a senior, he was named the team’s most inspirational player.
As both an assistant and head coach, Speraw has mentored dozens of players who have played professionally, including Hawkeyes Ronnie Lester, Steve Krafcisin, Vince Brookins, Steve Waite, Kenny Arnold, Kevin Boyle, Mark Gannon and Bobby Hansen.
Speraw began his coaching career with the Hawkeyes, serving as a graduate assistant with Iowa’s 1979-80 team that advanced to the Final Four. The Hawkeyes went 23-8 that season. Speraw then moved to Denver University, where he was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for two years (1980-82).
Speraw joined the Hawkeyes after serving 17 years as head coach at the University of Central Florida (1993-2010). During his tenure, 18 of his players received all-league honors, including four first team honorees. Additionally, since the start of the 1993-94 season, 54 of Speraw’s UCF student-athletes earned academic all-conference recognition.
His tenure included four NCAA Tournament berths (1994, ’96, ’04 and ‘05). In 2006-07, he was recognized as Conference USA Coach of the Year after guiding the Knights to 22 victories and a second place league finish. His most successful season at UCF was in 2003-04, when the Knights finished 25-6, received votes in the top 25 and won the Atlantic Sun championship, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Prior to his head coaching job at UCF, he served as an assistant coach at the University of Florida for three seasons (1990-93) under Head Coach Lon Kruger. While on the Florida staff, the Gators participated in two NIT’s, including advancing to the semifinals in 1992.
Prior to his three years in Gainesville, Speraw was the head coach at Pensacola Junior College (PJC) from 1987-90. At PJC, he led the Pirates to an 82-21 record and three consecutive Panhandle Conference titles. His 1989-90 team won 31 games and finished fifth nationally. The team’s success that year earned Speraw national recognition. He was tabbed the NABC/Kodak National Junior College Coach of the Year, as well as the state’s Coach of the Year.
Speraw also had a coaching stop at Florida Southern, serving as an assistant from 1982-87. The Moccasins posted a 100-46 record and made four appearances in the Division II NCAA Tournament, including a third-place finish in 1986.
Speraw and his wife, Tracy (an Iowa City native), have two sons, Drew and Dustin, and two daughters, Brooke and Bailey. Drew played for his dad at Central Florida for four years.