Craig Neal, an assistant coach and talent scout with the NBA's Toronto Raptors for eight years, has completed his second season as associate head basketball coach at the University of Iowa. Neal joined the Hawkeye staff in August, 2004.
Iowa in 2006 won 25 games, the second highest total in school history. Iowa set a school record with 10 wins over top 25 opponents while earning a second straight NCAA Tournament invitation. The Hawkeyes established a record 18-game winning streak in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, winning all 17 home games a year ago. Iowa carries the third longest active home court winning streak in the nation into the 2006-07 season.
Iowa won its second Big Ten Conference Tournament title in 2006 and the Hawkeyes have posted six straight winning campaigns. Iowa had advanced to the championship game in the conference tournament three times in the last six years and no team has more than Iowa's two titles.
Along with helping guide the Hawkeyes to 46 wins over the past two seasons, Neal has been instrumental in Iowa's recruiting efforts. Iowa's incoming class for the 2006-07 season is ranked by more than one publication as one of the top 10 classes in the nation.
Iowa posted a 21-12 record in 2005, giving the Hawkeyes their fifth consecutive winning season and highest regular season victory total since 1998. The Hawkeyes earned their second NCAA Tournament invitation in the past five years. Iowa won two games in the Big Ten Tournament to advance to the semi-finals for the third time in five seasons and during the year earned three wins over teams that advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16.
Neal served as an assistant coach with the Raptors from 2000-03 and was involved in scouting and player development in 2003-04. He was also a Toronto scout for four seasons before becoming an assistant coach in 2000. He was a scout in North America and Europe for one year before joining the Iowa staff, scouting high school, junior college, college and European players for the NBA Draft and for trade possibilities. Neal was also involved with development of current roster players, recruiting of free agents and selecting players for summer league and training camps.
As an assistant coach from 2000-03, Craig was involved with practice preparation and advance scouting, preparing and implementing opponent scouting reports. He managed and directed Toronto's player development program, both during the season and the summer. He coached Toronto's summer league team for three years and was 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.
Neal was a two-year starter at Georgia Tech. He earned all-ACC honors as a senior in 1988 when he set a conference single-season record with 303 assists. His playing career at Tech spanned five seasons, as he played just four games in 1984-85 due to injury. He averaged 7.7 points as a senior. His 9.5 assists per game (11.6 in conference games) led the ACC that season and 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. His 5.2 career average is fourth best ever at Tech and his 127 career steals is the 11th best total at the school.
Neal was a member of five Yellow Jacket teams that advanced to post-season play, including an NIT appearance in 1984 and NCAA Tournament berths the following four seasons. Tech advanced to the regional final in 1985 before a loss to top-seeded Georgetown, and the Sweet Sixteen in 1986. After a first round loss in 1987 Tech defeated Iowa State before a second round loss in 1988. He earned his bachelor's degree in management from Georgia Tech in 1988.
The native of Washington, IN played prep basketball at Washington HS, for his father, Stan. He earned all-America recognition and was a member of the Indiana all-star team following his senior year in 1983.
Neal played eight professional seasons in the NBA, CBA and Europe, beginning in Portland where he was a third-round draft pick of the Blazers in 1988. He also played in Miami and Denver in the NBA and played in three championship series while competing in the CBA. He served as a player and coach his final season in the CBA (1994-95) before joining the Toronto organization. Neal was involved in professional basketball for 16 years.
In Toronto he was involved with the NBA's Team Up community service program. He founded the Craig Neal/Grant Delagrange benefit golf tournament in Fort Wayne, IN. The proceeds from the event, $90,000 last year, go to schools for autistic and Down Syndrome children.
Neal was born February 16, 1964. He and his wife, Janet, have two sons, Cullen (12) and Dalton (10).