Groce, Millers among Ohio State coach's former aides who are making names for themselves.
A native of Hoopeston, Ohio State coach Thad Matta’s reach in the world of college basketball has extended well beyond the 367 career wins and 11 NCAA tournament berths in his 14 seasons as a head coach. Matta learned a great deal in the profession from bosses like Herb Sendek, Barry Collier and Phil Hopkins. He’s passed that knowledge down to his assistants through the years, and it’s led them to experience success in the profession, too. Currently, six of Matta’s former assistants from his three head coaching stops are head coaches at the Division I level or the NBA, including Illinois coach John Groce, with whom he will match up tonight in Columbus.
“He’s had a lot of influence. You look at the list of head coaches, assistant coaches and players and people he’s impacted throughout his career; he’s certainly impacted me. I have a lot of fond memories of working with him at all three places that he and I worked together. There’s no question he’s made an impact,” Groce said of Matta. “The one thing you can control is helping others. I think that is really, really important in the position that he’s in or the position I’m in. He’s certainly done that. My hope is that someday the guys that we’ve coached and the teams that we’ve coached and the people we’ve been around can say the same thing.”
John Groce, Illinois
Years under Matta: Butler (2000-01), Xavier (2001-04), Ohio State (2004-08)
Head coaching experience: Ohio (2008-12), Illinois (2012-present)
Comment: Indianapolis-area product helped Butler to a Horizon League title and an NCAA tournament win. Was a part of 105 wins at Ohio State and was named National Recruiter of the Year there before first head coaching gig at Ohio, where he led the Bobcats to two NCAA tournaments in four seasons, including a Sweet 16 run in 2012 that helped land the 42-year-old his current job, winning an NCAA tournament game last season.
Alan Major, Charlotte
Years under Matta: Xavier (2001-04), Ohio State (2004-10)
Head coaching experience: Charlotte (2010-present)
Comment: The Purdue grad spent a year on Bruce Weber’s staff at Southern Illinois before spending nine seasons on the bench with Matta, in which he helped lead Xavier to an Elite Eight and Ohio State to four NCAA tournaments, including the 2007 title game. After two losing seasons at Charlotte, Major’s 49ers went 21-12 and reached the NIT last season.
Archie Miller, Dayton
Years under Matta: 2007-08 (Ohio State)
Head coaching experience: Dayton (2011-present)
Comment: The former North Carolina State point guard spent two seasons on the bench with Matta at Ohio State, where he helped lead the Buckeyes to an NIT championship and an NCAA appearance. After a stint at Arizona under his brother Sean, the 35-year-old is in his third season at Dayton, leading the Flyers to the NIT his first year.
Brandon Miller, Butler
Years under Matta: Xavier (2003-04), Ohio State (2004-11)
Head coaching experience: Butler (2013-present)
Comment: The former Butler starting point guard began his coaching career as Matta’s video intern at Xavier, then as the director of operations at Ohio State before becoming a full-time assistant. After taking a year away from coaching, he returned as Groce’s special assistant last season before returning to Butler as an assistant before being promoted to head coach when Brad Stevens left for the Celtics.
Sean Miller, Arizona
Years under Matta: 2001-04 (Xavier)
Head coaching experience: Xavier (2004-09), Arizona (2009-present)
Comment: The first associate head coach in Xavier program history, Miller helped lead the Musketeers to three straight NCAA berths before taking over as the head coach after Matta left for Ohio State. Went to four NCAA tournaments at Xavier before taking over at Arizona, where he’s got the Wildcats atop both major polls.
Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics
Years under Matta: 2001 (Butler)
Head coaching experience: Butler (2007-13), Celtics (2013-present)
Comment: Parlayed his job as director of basketball operations under Matta into a full-time coaching position under Todd Lickliter before becoming the head coach and leading the Bulldogs to back-to-back Final Fours in 2010 and 2011. Turned down numerous high-profile college jobs before jumping to the NBA last summer.