Craig Neal

Craig Neal

Craig Neal in December 2008 at the Jenny Craig Pavilion in San Diego
New Mexico Lobos
Position Head coach
League Mountain West Conference
Personal information
Born (1964-02-16) February 16, 1964
Muncie, Indiana
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Listed weight 165 lb (75 kg)
Career information
High school Washington (Washington, Indiana)
College Georgia Tech (1984–1988)
NBA draft 1988 / Round: 3 / Pick: 71st overall
Selected by the Portland Trail Blazers
Playing career 1988–1995
Position Shooting guard
Number 10, 11, 22
Coaching career 2000–present
Career history
As player:
1988 Jacksonville Hooters (USBL)
1988–1989 Portland Trail Blazers
1989 Miami Heat
1989–1990 Rapid City Thrillers (CBA)
1990–1991 Columbus Horizon (CBA)
1991 Denver Nuggets
1991 Florida Jades (WBL)
1991–1993 Rapid City Thrillers (CBA)
1993–1994 Fort Wayne Fury (CBA)
1994 Omaha Racers (CBA)
1994–1995 Fort Wayne Fury (CBA)
As coach:
2000–2003 Toronto Raptors (asst.)
2004–2007 Iowa (asst.)
2007–2013 New Mexico (asst.)
2013–present New Mexico
Stats at

Craig Duane Neal (born February 16, 1964) is an American retired professional basketball player and the men's head basketball coach for the University of New Mexico. He was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 3rd round (71st overall) of the 1988 NBA Draft, and played in the NBA and several minor leagues.

High school

A native of Washington, Indiana, Neal played prep basketball at Washington High School, for his father, Stan. Craig earned all-America recognition and was a member of the Indiana all-star team following his senior year in 1983 with long-time friend and Indiana Hoosier legend, Steve Alford. Recently, Craig Neal was named to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame's Silver Anniversary team in 2007 for his high school and post-high school accomplishments.


In 1982 Neal signed on to play for Bobby Cremins at Georgia Tech. At 6'5" and only 160 pounds, Craig "Noodles" Neal quickly arose as a fan favorite. Known for his passing ability, quickness, and court awareness Neal was a vital force for the success of the Yellow Jackets in the mid-1980s.

Neal was a two-year starter at Georgia Tech in the mid-1980s. He earned all-Atlantic Coast Conference honors as a senior in 1988 when he set the ACC single-season record with 303 assists. Neal's playing career at Tech spanned five seasons, as he was limited to just four games in 1984-85 due to injury. He averaged 7.7 points as a senior. Neal averaged a league-best 9.5 assists per game (11.6 in conference games) that season, which still stands as a single-season record at Georgia Tech. His 659 career assists was a school record at the time and now ranks third best at Tech. Neal's 5.2 career assist average is fourth best at Tech and his 127 career steals is the 11th best total at the school.[1]

In addition, Neal was a member of five Yellow Jacket teams that advanced to postseason play, including an NIT appearance in 1984 and NCAA Tournament berths the following four years. Tech advanced to the regional final in 1985 before losing to top-seed Georgetown, and the Sweet Sixteen in 1986. After a first round loss in 1987 Georgia Tech defeated Iowa State in 1988 before falling to Richmond in the second round. Neal earned his bachelor's degree in management from Georgia Tech in 1988.[1]

Professional playing career

After his standout college career, Neal was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1988 in the third round of the NBA draft. He later played for the NBA teams the Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat. Craig Neal played eight professional seasons in the NBA, CBA and Europe. While competing in the CBA, Neal was fortunate enough to play in three championship series. In addition, Neal served as a player and coach in his final season in the CBA (1994–95) before joining the Toronto Raptors organization in 1997.

NBA scouting and coaching career

For the first few years at Toronto, Craig Neal was a scout for the Toronto Raptors. In 2000, Craig Neal became an assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors under NBA's all-time most winningst coach, Lenny Wilkens. In his first year as an assistant for the Toronto Raptors, a struggling Raptors of the past team excelled all the way to game 7 of the semi-finals of the Eastern Conference. Toronto was a Vince Carter shot away from going to the Eastern Conference finals. In addition as an assistant coach from 2000–03, Neal was involved with practice preparation, advance scouting, and the preparation and implementation of opponent scouting reports. He managed and directed Toronto's player development program, both during the season and the summer. Neal coached Toronto's summer league team for three years and was the lead coach in directing all Raptor college pre-draft workouts. His duties also included assisting with the operations budget, working with advance scouting team and coordinating schedules for Toronto scouts. In 2003-2004, Neal was involved in scouting and player development for the Toronto Raptors.[1]

College coaching career

Iowa Hawkeyes

In August 2004, Craig Neal joined long-time friend and head coach Steve Alford at the University of Iowa. Iowa posted a 63-35 record while Neal was the associate-head coach, including consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament. The Hawkeyes won 25 games in 2005-06, the second highest total in school history. They also captured the Big Ten Conference tournament title, set a school record with 10 wins over top 25 opponents and ran off a school record 18-game winning streak in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, winning all 17 home games in 2005-06. Neal displayed his network genius and was instrumental in Iowa's recruiting efforts. More than one publication ranked the 2006-07 class as one of the top 10 catches in the nation, which included players like stand-out player Tyler Smith.[1]

New Mexico Lobos

On March 27, 2007 Craig Neal followed Steve Alford to New Mexico and became the associate head coach of the Lobos. In his first year at New Mexico, Craig Neal played an essential role in turning New Mexico into a competitive team. In addition, the Lobos made it into post season play in the NIT for the first time since 2005. In 2010 and 2012, New Mexico reached the NCAA tournament (winning both opening round games). In 2013, New Mexico reached the NCAA tournament as the number 3 seed, losing in the first round to the 14th seed, Harvard. On April 2, 2013, Neal was named the head basketball coach for the University of New Mexico,[2] after it was announced that head coach Steve Alford was leaving to take the head coaching position at UCLA.

Coaching record

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
New Mexico (Mountain West Conference) (2013–present)
2013–14 New Mexico 27–7 15–3 2nd NCAA Second Round
2014–15 New Mexico 15–16 7–11 8th
2015–16 New Mexico 17–15 10–8 T–4th
2016–17 New Mexico 2–0 0–0
New Mexico: 61–38 (.616) 32–22 (.593)
Total: 61–38 (.616)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

Community service

Along with his basketball and coaching career, Craig Neal has been a vital member of the community. He has often committed himself to causes greater than oneself, such as he founded the Craig Neal/Grant Delagrange benefit golf tournament in Fort Wayne, IN, with proceeds dedicated to schools for autistic and Down Syndrome children. In addition, while in Toronto Craig Neal was involved with the NBA's Team Up community service program. To this day, Neal continues to give back to the community.[1]


He and his wife, Janet, have two sons, Cullen and Dalton.


This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/16/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.