World traveler Steve Woodberry figures to bring an international flavor to Missouri State University’s men’s basketball coaching staff.
“Basketball is like technology. We are global now,” Bears’ coach Barry Hinson said Wednesday after hiring former Kansas University guard Woodberry as a full-time assistant. “Steve helps expand our recruiting base. His experience in Australia and Europe gives us an opportunity to recruit overseas.”
Woodberry, 34, played pro ball in Australia, Greece, Finland, Lithuania and Sweden after his 1990-94 KU career. He replaces Troy Collier, who last month accepted an assistant’s post at Ball State. “Since I was in Australia for some time (six years), I will reach out to people I know there,” Woodberry said Wednesday in a phone interview from Los Angeles International Airport, where he was waiting on a connecting flight to Australia where he and his wife were headed on vacation. “I also have contacts in Lithuania. We’ll see how that goes.”
Woodberry also has contacts with coaches and prospective college players in America. Since retiring a year ago, the 6-foot-4 former Wichita South standout has coached the Kansas City Pump N Run AAU team. His 16-17-year-olds won titles in Minneapolis, Des Moines, Iowa and Las Vegas last summer. “With Steve’s involvement on the AAU circuit, it expands our recruiting base as well,” Hinson said. “It’s been fun,” Woodberry said of his AAU experience. “I get on the guys, but after the game, they know it’s nothing personal. I teach them what it’ll be like in college.”
Woodberry, who played on the Jayhawks’ 1991 and ’93 Final Four teams, finished with 1,240 points in a 138-game KU career. He was part of 110 victories against just 28 losses. His KU teammate, Rex Walters, recently interviewed Woodberry for an assistant’s spot on Walters’ Florida Atlantic coaching staff. “I think it was a good interview, and I like Rex a lot,” Woodberry said. “I felt this was a better fit for me at Missouri State. It took Rex just three years to be a head coach. I don’t know if I’ll be that lucky. “Right now, I just want to be at a place where we can compete for championships and I can learn as much as I can. I’ve wanted to get in college coaching a long time. I’ve always wanted to be a coach. This is the perfect opportunity for me.”
At Missouri State, he’ll be working with Hinson and former KU assistant Ben Miller, who first informed Woodberry of the job opening in Springfield, Mo. Miller has worked on Hinson’s staff the past two seasons. “Ben has been wonderful, much as you’d expect,” Hinson said. “I’ve been blessed that we’ve got such great guys on our staff.”
Woodberry’s college coach, current North Carolina coach Roy Williams, thinks Woodberry will fare well in coaching. “Steve was a fantastic player for us at Kansas and, more important, will be a fantastic addition to Barry Hinson’s staff,” Williams said. “Steve was always an overachiever who did all the little things to make himself a big-time player. I know he will do everything he can to make a positive impact on Missouri State’s program.”