Jamar Smiley played at ISU from 1994-98 and is the school's all-time assists leader. (ISU photo)
By Bryan Bloodworth
NORMAL - Jamar Smiley and Dan Muller developed not only a bond, but a special friendship, during their playing days at Illinois State from 1994-98. They also helped the Redbirds to four straight post-season tournament appearances and a glittering 91-37 record.
Smiley finished his career as the school's all-time assists leader with 740. Muller wound up playing in every game during his career and ranks as the school's 10th all-time leading scorer with 1,145 points.
"Dan and I have a long-standing relationship since our playing days together," said Smiley, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., who now lives in Oswego with his wife, Kari, and their children (daughters Camryn 13; Cailyn 7 and son Jaden 11).
"We came to ISU together as freshmen and left as a pretty good tandem during our four years," added Smiley. "We have grown to be much better friends than we even were teammates in the years since."
Smiley, who has worked for BDA Sports - a management firm that represents NBA players and players who are looking to continue their careers overseas - since he graduated from ISU, has seen the Redbirds play this year and likes what he's observed.
"Dan is doing a heck of a job," said Smiley. "The team, the program and the university are all headed in a great direction. Dan is putting his stamp on the program just as he said he would. He wants to push the ball. He wants to get out and pressure 94 feet. I think the kids are doing a tremendous job of taking to him as a person, his personality and as a coach because they've got a great bond."
Like most folks, Smiley has been impressed with the play of veterans Jackie Carmichael and Tyler Brown along with freshman Kaza Keane.
"i think Jackie and Tyler's grit and toughness will take the team a long way and help the younger guys understand how basketball will be played under Coach Muller," said Smiley. "Dan is a well-rounded human being. He's great for the kids and the community.
"The future is bright for Redbird basketball."
Bryan Bloodworth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org