Rod Strickland makes his first foray into coaching this season as a first-year assistant coach. A two-time All-America at DePaul and a 17-year NBA veteran, Strickland brings a wealth of collegiate and professional experience to John Calipari's Kentucky staff. Strickland began his tenure under Calipari as Director of Student-Athlete Development/Manager at Memphis in fall 2006, and in the summer of 2008, he was named Director of Basketball Operations for the Tigers.
As Director of Basketball Operations, Strickland monitored academics, coordinated recruiting visits and assisted with travel plans.
With Strickland on staff, Memphis posted a 104-10 record and continued to dominate Conference USA. In his three seasons with the Tigers, the team won three-consecutive C-USA regular season and tournament titles. Memphis reached the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament in 2009 and advanced to the Elite Eight in 2007. In 2008, the Tigers competed in the NCAA Tournament championship game and set the NCAA Division I record for victories in a single season with a 38-2 record.
The New York City native went to Memphis after a lengthy and successful career in the NBA. The 6-foot-3 guard was an NBA first round draft pick of the Knicks in 1988, and during his career, Strickland played for New York, San Antonio, Portland, Washington, Miami, Minnesota, Orlando, Toronto and Houston. Strickland played in 1,094 games and scored over 14,000 points (13.2 career average) and dished out nearly 8,000 assists (7.3 career average).
The 1997-98 NBA campaign with Washington was Strickland's best, as he averaged a double-double with 17.8 points and 10.5 assists. His 10.5 assist average led the NBA that year, and he was selected to the All-NBA second team. That year, Strickland also became only the 25th player in NBA history to record 10,000 points and 5,000 assists. He also ranked among the NBA's top 10 in assists in the 1991-92 (fifth), 1993-94 (sixth), 1994-95 (fifth) and 1995-96 (fourth) seasons.
Prior to his time in the NBA, Strickland enjoyed a stellar career at DePaul. A 1987 and 1988 All-America pick, Strickland helped lead the Blue Demons to four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 1985-88, including Sweet Sixteen showings in 1986 and 1987. The four-time Blue Demon letterwinner ranks among the program's career leaders in scoring average (eighth; 16.6 ppg), assists (third; 557) and steals (second; 204).
In September of 2008, Strickland was inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame. Joining Strickland in the 19th induction class were Kenny Anderson, Louis Bender, Pete Gillen, Joe Goldstein, Bob McCullough, Sam Perkins and Eddie Younger.