Junior college players are everywhere in Division I basketball this season, thanks in part to Bob Knight, and now junior college coaches are following their players into top-level programs.
Since Keith Smart made the tough jumper that gave Indiana and Coach Knight the national championship, junior college players have become quite a topic among college basketball fans.
Smart and teammate Dean Garrett had both made the jump from the junior college ranks to a solid, disciplined Division I program and the results were obvious.
Besides the influx of junior college players into the Division I ranks this year, four of the 38 new head coaches running top-level college basketball programs had their last job at two-year schools.
"It's amazing that Mr. Knight has so much influence on coaching philosophy since he's had so much success," said Texas Arlington Coach Jerry Stone, who led Midland JC for the past 10 seasons. "Of course, Keith Smart's shot didn't hurt one bit."
Stone said Proposition 48, the rule requiring incoming freshmen to post certain academic standards, has also helped push junior college programs to the forefront.
"More coaches were forced to go that way because of Prop 48," he said. "JUCO (junior college) kids are a little more experienced and there are more of them."
Joining Stone in the junior college-to-Division I ranks are Ronnie Arrow, who went from San Jacinto JC to South Alabama, Riley Wallace, from Seminole JC to Hawaii, and Ken Trickey, from Oklahoma JC to Oral Roberts.
"Sure what happened with Indiana helped the JUCO players because Knight is known for his discipline and others have to see that JUCO kids are not knuckleheads," said Arrow, who compiled a 301-43 record and won three national championships at San Jacinto. "JUCO basketball players in some cases need some sense of discipline, but there are some who are simply major college players."
Arrow turned out some of those players in his years at San Jacinto, including a pipeline to St. John's that sent Billy Goodwin, Walter Berry and this year's backcourt of Greg (Boo) Harvey and Michael Porter to the Redmen.
"I am going to recruit JUCO players but you build a program with freshmen and fill in immediate needs with JUCO kids," Arrow said. "Hopefully we do have an advantage with JUCO coaches because they will want us to do well and we'll get some of their players."
Stone said it's "pretty logical" for him to recruit in the junior college ranks.
"I'm familiar with the coaches and programs," he said. "I'm rebuilding a program here and it's pretty logical for me to go that way.
"I'm glad I coached JUCO players and I feel comfortable with them."
Five coaches have moved from an assistant's capacity to the head job at the same school.
Gordon Chiesa of Providence has the toughest act to follow as the Friars earned a berth in the Final Four last season but four starters have graduated from that team.
"I'm going to be able go one more step because this is my third year in the program," Chiesa said. "I've been with our juniors and seniors for three years and we can play to our strengths and hide our non-strengths."
The other coaches moving in the same program are Art Tolis at New Orleans, Frankie Allen at Virginia Tech, Kelvin Sampson at Washington State and Rich Haddad at Jacksonville.
Two coaches moved back to the Division I ranks from professional basketball.
Rick Majerus, an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks and former coach at Marquette, is now the coach at Ball State, while Larry Steele stays in the same town, moving from the Trail Blazers to the University of Portland.