NORMAL — Add an assistant coach to the recruiting needs of Illinois State basketball coach Dan Muller this spring.

Dean Oliver, who has been on Muller's staff the last three years, was named an assistant coach at Wisconsin on Thursday by Badgers head coach Greg Gard.

Oliver, 38, a former standout player at Iowa, primarily worked with the Redbird guards. He was instrumental in helping Paris Lee earn the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards this past season as the Redbirds set a school record for wins and shared the MVC regular-season title.

"Dean has been awesome," said Muller. "It truly starts with what kind of person he is ... the value he added with skill development and what he did with our guards we'll miss."

This will be the fourth straight spring that Muller has been in the market for one of the three assistant coaching spots. Last year, Muller hired Brian Reese after Jeremy Ballard left for Pittsburgh.

Muller said there is no specific timetable to get Oliver's replacement. The Redbirds have one open scholarship at the moment with MiKyle McIntosh announcing earlier this week he isn't returning next season.

"I have guys in mind. I'll talk to the right people and make sure I make a great hire," said Muller.

It will be a return to the Big Ten Conference for Oliver, who was a star point guard at Iowa from 1997-2001. He started all but two games with the Hawkeyes and became the third player in Big Ten history to finish his career with more than 1,500 points, 500 assists and 200 steals.

Oliver enjoyed a nine-year professional playing career that included two seasons (2001-03) with the Golden State Warriors in the NBA. 

After his playing career ended, Oliver was an assistant coach at North Dakota for three years before coming to ISU.

"I am extremely honored and excited to be joining the men's basketball staff at the University of Wisconsin," Oliver said in a statement. "It is truly a dream to coach at such a prestigious, storied Big Ten program. I can't wait to get to work with the young nucleus of players as well as the exciting incoming recruits."

It wasn't only Lee and Tony Wills that Oliver helped the last three years, said Muller. Oliver helped mentor guards DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell and Daishon Knight, who both earned all-MVC second-team honors.

Muller also pointed out how Oliver was instrumental in sophomore Keyshawn Evans becoming a valuable rotation player this season.

"I have been impressed with him over the years and after getting to know him better through this process, it became easy to see why he has been so successful in the past as a player and most recently as a coach," said Gard. "Everyone I talked to about Dean had the utmost respect for his leadership, teaching abilities and passion for helping student-athletes."

Celebration on Monday: The ISU Basketball Season Celebration will take place at 6 p.m. Monday at Redbird Arena. The celebration is free and open to the public, with free parking available in lots surrounding Redbird Arena.

​Follow Jim Benson on Twitter: @pg_benson


Sports Writer

Sports Writer for The Pantagraph.

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