Glen Worley knows firsthand the impact a coach can have on improving your game.
Although he was Mr. Basketball in the state of Iowa, Worley credits the Iowa coaches for helping re-tool his offensive approach.
“I couldn’t shoot in high school but when I got to Iowa that was one of my strengths,” Worley said. “I was blessed to be with guys who helped me improve my game on offense and defense.”
The Iowa forward from 2001-2004 would go on to be a 1,000 point scorer at Iowa, playing a key role in helping the Hawkeyes reach the postseason four consecutive seasons, as well as win their first-ever Big Ten tournament title.
After playing professional hoops internationally for a few years and spending the past decade coaching high schoolers, the former Hawkeye recently decided to make the jump back to the college game.
In October, Worley, 35, was hired as an assistant men’s basketball coach at Academy of Art University — a Division II school in San Francisco. He previously spent six years coaching high school ball in San Diego, and another four coaching AAU.
His role is typical of many assistant hoops coaches, spending time breaking down film, out on the recruiting trail, and working primarily with the team’s big men. Worley originally thought he’d wait until next year to try making the move to the collegiate level, but this job arose and he decided to take advantage of an opportunity to get his foot in the door.
“I knew was going to be involved in basketball or athletics in some way,” he said. “I love watching the game, but the main thing for me was trying to help kids. I wanted to do something where I could pay it forward and help kids achieve goals athletically and academically. The biggest compliment any coach can get is seeing kids graduate, go on with the lives, and then get an invitation to their weddings or other significant moments in their lives. That shows you made an impact on their life. Not just athletically, but with who they are as a person.”
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The Academy of Art University basketball program is still in its infancy, having only been around since 2008.This year’s team is young and going through some growing pains — not unusual for a squad with seven freshman on the roster — and the coaching staff is still working toward establishing a winning culture at the school.
Art U is 2-6 so far this season, and hasn’t had a winning record in any of its previous eight seasons. Despite the struggles, Worley is excited about the future of the program.
“It’s exciting because you’re telling recruits they can come here and start a legacy,” he said. “You can build a tradition, be a part of something bigger than yourself, and tell people you started something here.”
Worley had his pick of colleges out of high school. The Iowa City native earned Mr. Basketball honors in 2000, and opted to stay in state and don the Black and Gold for new head coach Steve Alford.
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He would go on to start 67 games for the Hawkeyes, averaging 8.4 points, 4.4 rebounds per game. Worley’s best season came in 2003, where he recorded career highs in points (10.9/game), rebounds (5.2/game), and blocks (1.1/game). He finished his career with 1,060 points — 40th in school history.
“Playing in the Big Ten in front of 15,500 fans every game was a pretty cool,” he said. “I wish we could have done better as far as wins and losses, but hanging out with teammates is what I’ll remember most. It was a great experience and I’m appreciative of being able to do that. A lot of Iowa kids dream about being a Hawkeye, and I got to do that. I’m blessed and appreciative.”
Hawkeye fans may best remember the former Iowa forward for his propensity to draw whistles from officials. He has the dubious honor of holding every foul record in Iowa basketball history, recording 453 during his collegiate career.
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Worley said he still catches some grief about his foul record. Earlier this fall he walked into the basketball offices at the Art Academy and head coach Julius Barnes told the staff not to get too close to the former Hawkeye or they might get fouled.
“I was passionate, and a lot of the time maybe a little overzealous, but you live and you learn,” Worley said. “Looking back, that’s probably one of the things I would change — knowing when to and when not to foul. Sometimes you have to concede a bucket, but at 18- and 19-years-old I didn’t think like that.”
The former Hawkeye understands the sacrifices that come with coaching basketball at the collegiate level. He’s a father of two — an 8-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son that still live back in San Diego where he used to coach high school ball. He doesn’t see them as often as he’d like, but is thankful for new technology such as the FaceTime application that allows him to both see and talk with his kids regularly.
Being away from his children is difficult, but he knows the sacrifices are for the greater good as he works to build a career. The former Hawkeyes hopes to continue moving up the coaching ladder, but knows he needs to pay his dues. For now, his focus is on building a winning culture at ART U.
“I only talk about the job I currently have,” he said. “We want this program to be a D-II powerhouse and be a place where kids come to become better men. We hold our players to high standards, and want them to understand you can still be a good kid and have a little streak to you when you’re on the court. I want to be a teacher of life lessons just as much as a teacher of basketball lessons.”