Philadelphia, PA – Fred Hoiberg is steadily decorating the open spaces surrounding his retired No. 32 jersey that hangs in the rafters of Hilton Coliseum.
Hoiberg was already the favorite son of his hometown of Ames, Iowa, where he developed from the state's Mr. Basketball in 1991 into one of the Cyclones' all-time best players. His popularity during his career at Iowa State grew so great that his name appeared as a write-in vote for the town's mayoral election, which left him with the nickname "The Mayor".
After an NBA career as a reserve with the Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves ended prematurely due to an enlarged aortic root, Hoiberg joined Minnesota's staff as an assistant for a season.
He then joined the T-Wolves' front office, where his ability to scout young talent ripened. Minnesota acquired its franchise cornerstone Kevin Love via a draft day trade the summer before it was announced Hoiberg was set to return to his hometown to take over the helm of the Cyclones' program.
Iowa State endured four consecutive losing seasons under Greg McDermott before he resigned to accept the head coaching position at Creighton, and his departure opened up the door for Hoiberg to return to his alma mater.
Hoiberg guided the Cyclones to a 16-16 finish in 2010-11 in his inaugural season as a head coach at any level before taking them to the third round of the NCAA Tournament in each of the past two seasons.
Hoiberg, who led the NBA in 3-point percentage in 2005, has instilled his love of long-range shooting into his effective coaching strategy. ISU had Division I's third-highest scoring offense last season and led the nation with 9.9 attempts from beyond the arc per game.
Although four of the top six scorers from the Cyclones' unit that fell to Ohio State in the third round of last season's Big Dance graduated, the program will remain relevant thanks to Hoiberg, who signed a 10-year contract extension in April.
ISU has received significant contributions from transfers such as Chris Babb (Penn State), Korie Lucious (Michigan State), Will Clyburn (Utah) and Royce White (Minnesota) over the past two seasons. Hoiberg's recruiting class this season featured the four-star backcourt of Matt Thomas and Monte Morris along with four junior college prospects.
Additionally, DeAndre Kane (Marshall) and Abdel Nader (Northern Illinois) both decided to continue their careers at Iowa State after shining on mediocre teams last season.
Nader will have to sit out a season after being the heart and soul of NIU in 2012-13. He will hope to have the same success that former NIU guard Mike DiNunno found when he transferred to Eastern Kentucky and played a vital role in the Colonels' resurgence last season.
Kane was the leader of the Thundering Herd from the get-go as he earned the Conference USA Freshman of the Year award as a rookie. He then spearheaded Marshall's charge to the conference tournament championship game with a 40- point performance versus Tulsa in a triple-overtime semifinal (the Herd then ran out of gas against Memphis in the final).
After Kane's strong showing as a sophomore that resulted with a trip to the NIT, the Thundering Herd failed to lived up to expectations last season. Kane was forced to play point guard instead of his natural position after Kareem Canty was declared ineligible.
Kane had a productive season with 15.1 points and 7.0 assists per game before he was dismissed by coach Tom Herrion. One man's trash could become another's treasure as Kane is eligible to play immediately with his well-balanced array of offensive skills.
"The up-tempo offense ISU runs played a major role in my decision," Kane said. "I like to get up and down the court. The style that Coach Hoiberg allows his team to play fits my game perfectly."
Hoiberg's exciting offensive style along with his familiarity to young players who remember him teaming with Kevin Garnett during the T-Wolves' run to the 2004 NBA Western Conference Finals make the up-and-coming coach an intriguing choice for prospects. The keen eye that he uses to evaluate prospective talent was only sharpened during his days as NBA executive.
The new additions to the roster will be bettered by the newest assistant coach to join the staff, Doc Saddler. The 52-year-old coach brings valuable experience to the staff, having served as the head coach at UTEP and Nebraska.
"I am excited to work at a program like Iowa State and for a coach like Fred Hoiberg, who has quickly become recognized as one of the best coaches in the nation," Sadler said. "Having coached in the Big 12, I know how important home- court advantage is, and Hilton Coliseum is one of the best."
The Cyclones will be looking to make it to the NCAA Tournament for the third year in a row, which would tie the school's previous streak of appearances. They will have to contend with the Andrew Wiggins-led Kansas Jayhawks along with Scott Drew's Baylor Bears as they seek their first Big 12 Conference championship since 2001.
Hoiberg's recent contract extension includes a buyout clause that would require him to pay one full year's salary to leave for another college job or one quarter of a year's pay to take a seat on an NBA bench.
It would be a shock to see The Mayor leave for another university, but it won't be long before some NBA general managers take notice of his successful campaign.