B/R Exclusive: Interview With Former Iowa State and Utah Jazz Star Jeff Hornacek

Jack WinterCorrespondent IDecember 1, 2010

18 Mar 1999:  Jeff Hornacek #14 of the Utah Jazz signals 'hi' to his kids at home while getting ready to shoot a free throw during the game against the Washington Wizards at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C. The Jazz defeated the Wizards 95-87.   Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger  /Allsport
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Recently, former Iowa State and Utah Jazz star guard Jeff Hornacek spoke with Bleacher Report in anticipation of his involvement with November's Alltel and AT&T Weekend of Fun in Sioux City, Iowa.

According to Hornacek, the Weekend of Fun was a "Community event designed to remind Alltel subscribers of the company's merger with AT&T.  There will be many special events like Disney on Ice, and I'll be talking basketball with the folks as well."

When asked what he'd tell the undoubtedly pro-ISU, Sioux City crowd about the direction of the Cyclones program, Hornacek was effusive with praise for new ISU coach and former NBA peer Fred Hoiberg.  

"They will no doubt go through a big transition," he said.  "They have a lot of new faces because so many guys left.  But, Hoiberg will do a great job there because he knows the game so well.  He'll really get these guys to play for him, even though they'll be an underdog all year."

Hornacek even compared the potential of Ames' Hilton Coliseum to another storied Big 12 arena.

"Even though we (ISU) were rarely favored, we never lost to Kansas in Ames.  In Lawrence it was a different story, though.  Those are probably the two most unique venues in the league." It seems that if Hoiberg and company can right the ship, Hornacek believes the Coliseum can regain its rightful spot as one of the nation's toughest places to play.

As for Big 12 competition as a whole in 2010-11, the former Jazz star strayed from talking specifics.  He did, however, discuss the ramifications of Kansas State being chosen as preseason favorites.  

"It's good for the league because it's somebody else [other than Kansas].  It's probably great for KU, too, because it's tough to have everyone continually shooting for you.  So, a bull's-eye on someone else could help Kansas this year."

Asked who he thought should be considered the favorite this year, Hornacek couldn't commit to the Wildcats.  

"It's like in the NBA:  You just can't bet against the Lakers.  They've won two titles in a row!  Until someone knocks the top dog off, you've got to vote for the champs."  Though it wasn't a ringing endorsement, Hornacek clearly believes the Jayhawks are capable of winning a seventh straight Big 12 regular-season championship.

Hornacek is currently a special assistant coach for the Utah Jazz, the NBA team that retired his No. 14 jersey.  His job mainly consists of helping Utah players with their shooting strokes, most notably star F Andrei Kirilenko.  

"Shooting is all about confidence," the 1998 and 2000 NBA All-Star three-point shootout champion said.  "As a coach, I make sure the players believe they don't have to speed everything up just because you're in the NBA.  Night in and night out, just get to the point where you're playing the game; that's a little psychology I use on shooting."

With Hornacek on staff, a marksman who shot stellar marks of .496 from the field and .403 from three-point range over his career, Utah clearly has an advantage over most every team in the NBA when it comes to shooting tutelage.

A candidate for the Chicago Bulls coaching job that was available in 2008, Hornacek still has his sights set on becoming a head coach.  

"I quit playing to watch my kids grow up.  I'm pretty close to the point in my life where I feel like I can go full time," he said.  "Though I've only had an NBA job, I've always felt I'd make a great college coach.  Working with kids and teaching the game to people is so fun for me, whether at the pro or college level."

If his playing career is any indication, expect Jeff Hornacek to become a prominent head basketball coach sometime soon, and work hard to become one of the best.