Greg Heiar didn’t need to visit Wichita State to interview for a job on the men’s basketball coaching staff.
Don’t think he took the job sight unseen, though. His connections to WSU run deep. With a phone interview, Heiar, previously an assistant at Southern Mississippi, became the third member of coach Gregg Marshall’s staff this week.
“This was all about Coach Marshall and the program he runs,” Heiar said. “I’ve always been able to get really good players, and I just can’t wait to try to continue to get Coach Marshall as good of players, or better players.”
Heiar, 35, spent the past two seasons as assistant coach at Southern Mississippi under former Iowa State coach Larry Eustachy. Before moving to NCAA Division I, Heiar spent five seasons as coach at Chipola (Fla.) College, a junior college. He coached former Shocker guard Clevin Hannah, a 2010 All-Missouri Valley Conference pick.
Heiar met Marshall about six years ago. The two became better acquainted when Marshall recruited Hannah.
“It was a no-brainer because of what we think of Coach (Gregg) Marshall,” Heiar said, speaking for his family. “They’ve built that thing through hard work and out-working people. It’s a dream school for me to work at.”
That’s a good connection, yet it barely starts establishing his links to WSU.
Heiar calls WSU assistant coach Chris Jans his mentor. He played one season for Jans at Kirkwood (Iowa) Community College. He coached under Jans at Chipola before taking over the top spot for the 2004-05 season. His Chipola teams went 164-15 record and qualified for four NJCAA Tournaments. The Indians finished second in 2007 and third in 2009.
Dana Ford, hired last week as a WSU assistant, served as an assistant under Heiar in 2008-09 at Chipola.
Heiar knows exactly what he is getting into at WSU. His Chipola teams frequently practiced at Koch Arena on their way to Hutchinson for the NJCAA Tournament. In 2010, Heiar and his wife, Jessica, watched WSU’s National Invitation Tournament game against Nevada in Koch Arena.
“It just gave us chills to be in that environment,” he said.
Heiar said Marshall hasn’t discussed specific coaching duties. He feels confident their styles mesh.
“I believe in defense, rebounding and taking care of the ball,” Heiar said. “My wife and I watched enough WSU games on TV to know we have a lot of the same beliefs. Kids love to play that style of basketball, and that helps in recruiting.”
Heiar said his background at Chipola and Southern Mississippi prepare him to recruit a variety of players. At Chipola, he landed a number of Chicago athletes. Eustachy targeted him toward the juco ranks. He knows junior-college coaches. He knows his way around high school and prep schools.
“I’ve got a little bit of both worlds,” he said. “I’ve always recruited major cities, because I know one thing — they love basketball.”
Heiar and Ford replace two assistants who left WSU earlier this spring. Chad Dollar moved to Georgia Tech. Marty Gross became associate head coach at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
The Heiars have a 9-year-old daughter, Alexis.