Roberts officially hired as IU basketball assistant

Indiana coach Archie Miller has emphasized “inside-out” recruiting as a way to build up the Hoosiers’ roster. 

In his next assistant coach, Miller is bringing in someone who knows a lot about IU basketball.

IU officially announced the hire of Hoosier alum Mike Roberts as the program’s third assistant Thursday. The 6-foot-9 forward, a Bob Knight recruit, graduated from IU in 2005. He has been an associate head coach at UNC-Greensboro for the last eight seasons.

“Mike is someone who I think can have a great impact on our program,” Miller said in a statement. “He has played an important role in establishing a championship culture at UNCG and his love for Indiana basketball is very evident. I think he brings outstanding qualities to every facet of what we were looking for in this position.

“If you look at his track record, he identifies great people and players who have achieved success in their development. Mike helps them reach their maximum potential which has allowed so many of their players continued opportunities to compete after their graduation.”

Roberts was around some successful teams as a Hoosier. He was on the roster for three NCAA tournament squads, including the 2002 runners-up (though he did redshirt that year with a chipped bone in his ankle). His career stat line is modest — 88 points and 65 rebounds — but Roberts was a team captain as a fifth-year senior.

The three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection also won the conference’s sportsmanship award in 2005.

Roberts should bring intensity and another defensive-oriented mind to the IU bench. He replaces Ed Schilling, who departed the program in June. Roberts is Miller’s first assistant hire since the formation of his original staff, joining Bruiser Flint and associate head coach Tom Ostrom.

As far as Roberts’ impact as a recruiter, he has worked in several regions in his time away from Bloomington. He was a graduate assistant for Knight at Texas Tech before he went to Rice and coached under Ben Braun. After two years there, he followed Braun to California for another four seasons.

He left for UNC-Greensboro to join the original staff assembled by his prep school teammate, Wes Miller. Roberts and the other Coach Miller fared well together. The Spartans have posted 25-, 27-, and 29-win seasons in consecutive years, each program-best marks. They have consistently made the postseason, though their runs have been short.

Greensboro lost to Lipscomb in the second round of the NIT last year. The Spartans clinched their first NCAA tournament berth in 17 years in 2017-18, but they fell to Gonzaga in a first-round matchup. The year before that, Greensboro ran into Syracuse in the NIT’s first round.

Roberts, a native of Terre Haute, didn’t play high school ball in Indiana. He started at South Eugene High School in Oregon before moving on to the New Hampton School in New Hampshire. 

Regardless, he has been passionate about IU for a long time.

“His eyes just light up when he speaks about his whole experience here, not just the basketball experience,” Wes Miller said in 2014 when UNC-Greensboro visited IU. “(Thanksgiving) night he makes me go out in 15-degree weather and walk around downtown showing me every restaurant and place he used to hang out. He was really excited to be back.”

Wes Miller went on to say UNC-Greensboro might just look into a return trip for Roberts. “Any time we can get Mike Roberts back to the state of Indiana, he’s a happy camper,” he said.

More than five years later, Roberts is coming back to Bloomington. But it’s going to be as a Hoosier assistant.

“I’m thrilled for the opportunity to come back to my home state and the city of Bloomington and appreciate that Coach Miller would like me to return to be a part of the IU family,” Roberts said in a statement. “Without a doubt, IU was a place that helped shape me and I’m honored to be able to give back to this basketball program and University.

“I’m excited to work with an outstanding staff and am looking forward to getting to know our players. I am also very grateful to all of the great coaches I was able to work under that helped me develop as a mentor and coach.”

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