July 16, 2004
Craig Neal, an assistant coach and talent scout with the NBA’s Toronto Raptors for the past eight years, has been named Associate Head Basketball Coach at the University of Iowa. Neal’s appointment was announced Friday by Coach Steve Alford and becomes effective Aug. 1.
With the hiring of Neal, Rich Walker, a 14-year member of the Iowa staff, moves to Director of Basketball Operations, a spot vacated by the retirement of Sam Alford.
Neal, 40, joined the Toronto staff as a scout in 1995 and moved to the position of assistant coach in 2000. He returned to his position as a scout in 2003. Neal scouted high school, junior college, college and European players for the NBA draft and for trade purposes. He also conducted developmental workouts with current Toronto players and was involved in the recruiting of free agents and selecting players for summer league and training camps.
“I’m looking forward to getting started,” said Neal. “Iowa is an outstanding Big Ten University with a great basketball program and great tradition. I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with Steve and his staff. Working with someone who has the integrity and character that Steve has, can only be a great benefit. Having the chance to have an impact on student-athletes and their college careers is very exciting.”
A native of Washington, IN, Neal earned all-America recognition at Washington HS while playing for his father, Stan. Neal was a two-year starter at Georgia Tech. He earned all-ACC honors as a senior in 1988 when he set a conference single-season record with 303 assists. His playing career at Tech spanned five seasons, as he played just four games in 1984-85 due to injury. He averaged 7.7 points as a senior. His 9.5 assists per game (11.6 in conference games) led the ACC that season and still stands as a single-season record at Georgia Tech. His 659 career assists was a school record at the time and now ranks third best at Tech. His 5.2 career average is fourth best ever at Tech and his 127 career steals is the 11th best total at the school.
Neal was a member of five Yellow Jacket teams that advanced to post-season play, including an NIT appearance in 1984 and NCAA Tournament berths the following four seasons. Tech advanced to the regional final in 1985 before a loss to top-seeded Georgetown, and the Sweet Sixteen in 1986. After a first round loss in 1987 Tech defeated Iowa State before a second round loss in 1988. He earned his bachelor’s degree in management from Georgia Tech in 1988.
Neal played eight professional seasons in the NBA, CBA and Europe, beginning in Portland where he was a third-round draft pick of the Blazers in 1988. He also played in Miami and Denver in the NBA and played in three championship series while competing in the CBA. He served as a player and coach his final season in the CBA (1994-95) before joining the Toronto organization.
“Craig has an incredible amount of basketball experience,” said Alford. “He grew up around basketball as the son of a coach, he played at a high level in the Atlantic Coast Conference and professional basketball, and he has been involved in coaching and scouting in the NBA for eight seasons.
We feel fortunate to add someone of Craig’s caliber and professional experience to our staff,” added Alford. “He really brings a connection to the student-athlete at all levels. He will help us on the floor coaching, scouting and recruiting.”
Neal joins an Iowa program that returns three starters and six lettermen from a team that placed fourth in the Big Ten in 2004, posting a fourth straight winning season.