GREENVILLE, S.C.—Furman basketball will have a new coach charting its course in 2013-14, but it will be a coach who knows the landscape.
Niko Medved, who served six seasons as an assistant coach under the direction of Larry Davis from 2000-06, becomes the 21st head coach of the Furman basketball program (per Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports), succeeding Jeff Jackson, who stepped down after seven seasons in Greenville after compiling a 85-131 record during that span.
Medved originally served on the Furman coaching staff during the nine-year tenure of Larry Davis and was the Paladins' recruiting coordinator. Davis' tenure at Furman concluded in '06 when he left to join the Cincinnati staff as an assistant under Mick Cronin.
After Davis' departure, Medved was named the Paladins' interim head coach, but then left when Jeff Jackson was hired.
From there, Medved moved on to Minnesota, which is where he started his coaching journey, beginning his career with the Golden Gophers in 1992 as a student manager. Medved would leave Minnesota for two years to become the associate head coach at Division III Macalester College before returning to Furman in 1999.
Medved would first offer an eye for recruiting overseas talent during his initial tenure as a part of the Furman basketball program.
He had a hand in bringing in such foreign talents to the program as Karim Souchu (1999-2003), Guillherme Da Luz (1999-2003), Malaye Ndoye (2004-07) and Moussa Diagne (2004-07).
He helped the Paladins sign what was one of the highest-ranked classes in school history in 2003, which included Minnesota's "Mr. Basketball" and Furman's all-time, three-point field goals made leader, Eric Webb (2004-07).
Webb's classmates also included another highly touted signee Quan Prowell (2004-05), as well as the aforementioned Ndoye and Diagne, helping Furman post the nation's highest-scoring freshman class.
In 2002, he was part of a staff, which helped lead Furman all the way to the championship game of the Southern Conference Tournament for the first time since 1980. The Paladins would lose, 62-57, in the title game, to Davidson. The Paladins were able to reel off wins over Western Carolina (65-61), Georgia Southern (73-70) and the College of Charleston (44-43) to reach the championship game.
When Medved moved on to Colorado State in '06, he began the task of helping then-head coach Tim Miles put the building blocks together which would eventually lead to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in 2012 and 2013, as well as postseason appearances in the NIT (2011) and the CBI (2010) in serving as the Rams' recruiting coordinator.
The at-large selection to the NCAA tournament for the Rams was the first NCAA tournament selection for Colorado State in 22 years.
All told, four of Medved's six seasons in Fort Collins, Colo., saw the Rams make an appearance in the postseason. The Rams posted an 81-47 mark over the past four seasons, and the No. 8 seed ranks as the highest seed ever garnered by a Colorado State team since the field began seeding teams in 1979.
The Rams finished the season with a program-record 26 wins and were able to get a 84-72 win over Missouri in the opening round, marking the first win for the Rams in the NCAA tournament since defeating Florida, 68-46, in the opening round of the 1989 NCAA tournament.
Medved's Rams would eventually see their season end with a 82-56 loss to eventual national champion Louisville, as the Rams were able to push the Cardinals in the opening half of play before eventually the superior talent of Louisville took over.
At halftime of the third-round game, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino was interviewed by CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson and called Colorado State one of the most well-coached and talented teams the Cardinals had played all season, citing that his talented Cardinals were in a "fight."
Prior to the matchup in the pregame press conference, Pitino had the following to say about the Rams players Medved was directly responsible for recruiting to Colorado State.
The way I look at a dangerous team and I put that list together, it’s based on how many upperclassmen do they have that have stayed together and how much talent do they have?
You have a lot of upperclassmen, but they may not be that good. This team is very talented as well as being seniors. I always look at talent and experience coming together, and Colorado State has both." (The Rocky Mountain Collegian, Kyle Grabowski, 3/22/2013)
Medved has had some outstanding talents under his mentorship during the four-year run of success at Colorado State, with senior guard Dorian Green (13.0 PPG, team-leading 124 assists) and Minnesota transfer Colton Iverson (14.2 PPG, 9.8 RPG). Iverson became the first All-America selection for the Rams since 1969, selected as an Honorable Mention First Team selection by The Associated Press.
Iverson was a first-team All-Mountain West pick and helped the Rams to rank as the nation's top rebounding club. Iverson was top-ranked in the Mountain West and 20th in the nation in rebounding, averaging 9.8 boards per game. His 14 double-doubles were also good enough for 20th in the country in that particular category.
After former head coach Tim Miles left to take the reins of the Nebraska program following last season, Medved was the only coach who remained from Miles' staff in Fort Collins, as he was retained by new head coach Larry Eustachy.
Eustachy, who battled some off-the-court issues over the past few coaching stops, is considered one of the very best in his profession, leading an Iowa State club that featured Marcus Fizer and Jamaal Tinsley to the 2000 Elite Eight before losing to eventual national champion Michigan State.
Interestingly enough, Medved will have a chance to be part of the resurrection of the Furman basketball program, which has not won a regular-season title since 1991-92 and has just one 20-win season in the past 21 years, as the Paladins posted a 22-11 mark back in 2010-11, qualifying for the CollegeInsider.com tournament.
The newest member of the Furman basketball coaching tree is married to former Erica Nesselroad, who enjoyed a career as an athlete as a pitcher for the Furman softball program from 2003-06.
Medved has a tall order ahead of him, as he will now be asked to "re-brand" and bring excitement back to a Furman basketball program, which has endured three 20-loss seasons since he left for Minnesota some seven years ago. However, few have been given this rare opportunity—returning to a program that he knows very well.