How did Dean get to Wisconsin?
Millions of children grow up with dreams of becoming a professional athlete, playing in the bright lights, earning all the fame they watched their heroes bask in. Standout Iowa guard Dean Oliver was able to make his dream a reality—but reality isn’t always kind—he soon discovered he’d have to reinvent himself to keep doing what he loved.
Chasing a Dream
He led the entire Big Ten in assist to turnover ratio as a senior, finishing his college career as the conference’s third player to total 1,500 points, 500 assists, and 200 steals. It was enough to obtain star status in college—but not enough for him to hear his name called at the NBA draft.
However, he did achieve his dream the tough way, playing on short contracts as an undrafted backup on the Golden State Warriors for two seasons.
The 5’ 11” point guard played 35 games before his stint in the NBA was over for good. He chased his pro dream for as long as he could, bouncing around various leagues for nine years before finding his new calling.
Back to the School
Oliver traded in his sweat shorts and Jordan’s for a tie and clipboard at the University of North Dakota where he got he fell in love with coaching. As an assistant, he focused on what he had done himself at the professional level for the last decade—player development—except this time he was nurturing the growth of someone else’s game.
Oliver helped the Fighting Hawks to back-to-back Great West titles and helped Jamal Webb become the conference’s postseason MVP in 2012.
A few years later he was hired to do the same thing for Illinois State. There he tutored the game of Paris Lee, who blossomed into the Missouri Valley Conference player of the year in 2017.
Making it Big Time (again)
Eventually, Oliver started to earn recognition from elite programs. He was hired to develop Wisconsin’s backcourt the next year, as an assistant coach for the Badgers.
From small time to big time, Oliver’s player development saw no drop-off.
In his first season, Oliver helped develop Brad Davison who set multiple freshman team records that year, finishing with 60 three-pointers and shooting 81 percent from the line.
So, why should you play for him?
If you’re not a big-time blue-chip recruit, Dean might be your guy. Then again, the guy played in the NBA, so he might be your guy either way. There isn’t quite anything like playing for a players’ coach, one who is willing to fight for you on every level and understands what its like to be up at 2 AM studying for a test when you had six hours of practice that day.
Plus, who wouldn’t want a chance to play for the Badgers? You’re bound to get a Sweet 16 run somewhere along the way.