DES MOINES, Iowa — Doc Sadler watched from afar as Fred Hoiberg turned Iowa State into a perennial Big 12 contender.
Sadler, former head coach at University of Arkanas-Fort Smith, was so impressed that he joined Hoiberg as soon as an opportunity presented itself.
Hoiberg announced Friday that he has hired Sadler, the former coach at Nebraska, as an assistant. Sadler, who led the once-rival Huskers from 2006-12, will fill the vacancy left when T.J. Otzelberger took a job at Washington.
“When you look at the program, with Hilton Coliseum, the fans and what Hoiberg been able to do in three years, it’s unbelievable,” Sadler said.
Sadler was 101-98 at Nebraska, leading the program to three NIT appearances before being fired at its first season in the Big Ten. He spent last season as the director of basketball operations at Kansas.
“Doc brings a wealth of experience to our staff and is respected in the profession. His Big 12 coaching experience and extensive recruiting background will help on the road and make him a very valuable member of our staff,” Hoiberg said.
Sadler worked as an assistant at Texas Tech, Arizona State and UTEP before taking over the Miners in 2004. He led UTEP to a 48-18 record and an NCAA tournament berth in 2005 before moving on to Nebraska.
But Sadler could never quite get the Huskers into the NCAA tournament. In fact, Hoiberg’s first Iowa State team beat Nebraska in overtime in February 2011, a loss many believed was a major reason the Huskers were sent to the NIT.
Sadler spent one season under Bill Self in Lawrence after being let go by the Huskers. But Sadler wanted to get back to a job that would put him on the floor, and Hoiberg had openings after Oztelberger left and Jeff Rutter departed for a job at nearby Drake.
“I’m excited for Doc. He did a great job here. All the players loved him, respected him and certainly he added a great additional set of eyes and mindset to our staff. He will definitely be missed,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
Sadler’s experience undoubtedly made him a strong candidate for a number of assistant coaching positions. But Sadler said Hoiberg’s early success and deep ties to the Iowa State community swayed HIM toward the Cyclones.
Sadler said he isn’t necessarily going to replace Otzelberger. He’s instead prepared to fill any role Hoiberg has in mind.
“To work for a guy who is so committed to the community and that university; you know he’s going to be there,” Sadler said.
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