Hofstra is looking to one of its favorite sons to head its men’s basketball program.
The school announced Wednesday the promotion of Speedy Claxton from assistant coach to head coach. This is the 42-year-old Claxton’s first job as a head coach and he will be introduced at an 11:30 a.m. news conference on Thursday at the Pride’s Mack Sports Complex.
"Today is a dream come true for me," Claxton said in the announcement. "With that dream comes responsibility. I know the incredible history of the Hofstra men's basketball program. I have lived it. I have experienced it. I have coached it. And today I am ready to lead it."
Hofstra athletic director Rick Cole Jr. told Newsday that over the past three weeks, the search to replace Joe Mihalich, who took a position in the administration last month after missing the past season on a medical leave, encountered a number of candidates before focusing on a group of four that included Claxton.
"There was a lot of interest – from sitting head coaches, assistant coaches and associate head coaches – and we felt we had a great process in which Speedy clearly emerged as ‘the guy," Cole said. "It’s about the right fit and the right place and the right time and those made Speedy the right person to be our next head coach.
"He has an incredible relationship with the program and we think he could be our coach for many, many years . . . and build off our successes."
Claxton, a Heampstead product and Dix Hills resident, is one of the Pride’s most decorated players. As a senior in 1999-2000, under then-coach Jay Wright, he led Hofstra to the America East championship, a first NCAA Tournament berth in 23 years and received the Haggerty Award as metro New York’s top player.
He was the first-round pick of the 76’ers in the 2000 NBA Draft and went on to play seven seasons with five teams. He was the backup point guard to Tony Parker when San Antonio won the 2003 NBA Finals. Claxton’s No. 10 jersey was retired in 2010.
Also in the final group receiving strong consideration for the position were Hofstra assistant Mike Farrelly and Bryant head coach Jared Grasso, who was a Hofstra assistant under then-coach Tom Pecora. Farrelly was the Pride’s acting head coach this past season, helping them to a 13-10 record.
"We tried to be as transparent as we could that there were two strong [internal] candidates," Cole said. "And, in Speedy and Mike, we’re talking about two guys that wanted the very best for the players and for Hofstra."
Unsurprisingly, Farrelly is leaving his position at Hofstra.
Claxton has been a member of Mihalich’s staff since 2013 and is credited with recruiting and helping to develop a string of outstanding point guards, including Juan’ya Green, Justin Wright-Foreman, Desure Buie and Jalen Ray.
"He was very involved in the recruitment, development and retention of these great point guards," Cole said. "It’s also a credit to Joe for surrounding himself with a great staff that included Speedy and empowering that staff to make the program great.
"There is a tremendous amount of respect and admiration from the players to Speedy as a recruiter, a teacher, a man and a mentor. They improve if they're willing to put the work in because he's got the road map."
"Everything about Hofstra and our men's basketball program is special to me and I look forward to continuing the success this program experiences year in and year out," Claxton said.
Claxton went from playing to a position as a scout with the Golden State Warriors before joining the Pride coaching staff in 2013.