Claxton named Head Basketball Coach at Hofstra

Past. Present. Future. That is what defines Speedy Claxton and his relationship with the Hofstra men’s basketball program. 

During his spectacular playing career, he lifted the Pride to the NCAA Tournament. Over the last eight years as a member of the coaching staff, he helped guide the team back to the top of the conference. And today he takes the helm as the new leader of the Hofstra men’s basketball program. 

Claxton has been named the 13th head coach in Hofstra University men’s basketball history, it was announced today by Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz and Vice President and Director of Athletics Rick Cole Jr. Claxton replaces Joe Mihalich, who transitioned to a new role in the athletic department last month.

“Today is a dream come true for me,” commented Claxton. “With that dream comes responsibility, I know the incredible history of the Hofstra men’s basketball program. I have lived it. I have experienced it. I have coached it. And today I am ready to lead it. Everything about Hofstra and our men’s basketball program is special to me and I look forward to continuing the success this program experiences year in and year out. Thank you to all my mentors who have made today possible and a special thank you to Coach Mihalich for his guidance over the last eight years and for leading this program to incredible heights.”

“What an exciting day for Hofstra University and our men’s basketball program,” mentioned Cole Jr. “There is no better person than Speedy Claxton to lead our team and build upon the outstanding successes this program has experienced during its rich history. Speedy’s relationship with Hofstra goes back many years, and he is ready to take the next step and become our head coach. It has been an amazing career and life for Speedy and the entire Hofstra community looks forward to following this next step in his journey.”

“This is a very special moment for Hofstra,” stated Rabinowitz. “As a student-athlete, Speedy Claxton thrilled a generation of Hofstra and New York basketball fans. He’s a seminal figure in Pride basketball history and a Hempstead icon. We’re looking forward to him burnishing his legacy and helping the next generation of student-athletes excel.”

Claxton, who starred at Hofstra from 1996 to 2000, just completed his eighth season on the Hofstra basketball staff and his seventh an assistant coach in 2020-21. He has been an important part of the turnaround that has seen the Hofstra men’s basketball program win 144 games over the past seven seasons and average more than 20 wins a season during that time. 

Hofstra set a school record with 27 victories during the 2018-19 season and earned its first outright regular season conference title since the 2000-01 season. The Pride advanced to the CAA Championship Game and the regular season title earned Hofstra an automatic berth in the National Invitation Tournament. 

The 2019-20 season saw Hofstra continue its outstanding play as the Pride won 26 games and captured their second straight outright Colonial Athletic Association regular season title. Hofstra would go on to win the CAA championship and earn the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth since 2001. The Pride became only the sixth team in conference history (since 1982-83) to win back-to-back outright conference regular season titles. 

Named a top mid-major assistant coach by the Minority Coaches Association in October 2020, Claxton has worked with a pair of CAA Players of the Year (Juan’ya Green and Justin Wright-Foreman) during his time on staff, with Wright-Foreman claiming the honor twice (2017-18 and 2018-19). 

Under his tutelage, a number of Hofstra guards saw dramatic improvements including Wright-Foreman, who blossomed into one of Hofstra’s most prolific scorers and was selected by Utah in the 2019 NBA Draft. Another guard who benefitted from working with Claxton was Desure Buie, who would earn First Team All-Colonial Athletic Association honors as a senior in 2020 and was the CAA Championship Most Outstanding Player that year as well. Buie played professionally in the NBA G League this past season with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Eli Pemberton, a two-time All-CAA selection that scored nearly 2,000 points during his Pride career, also showed steady improvement under Claxton’s coaching. Pemberton was a member of the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA G League this past season.

Claxton joined the Hofstra staff in 2013 as a special assistant to Coach Mihalich after spending three seasons as a scout with the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association (NBA). In 2014, he took on his role as assistant coach.

A two-time Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American, Claxton graduated from Hofstra in 2000 as one of only six players in school history to score 2,000 career points (2,015). He also graduated as the program’s all-time leader in both assists (660) and steals (288), and was a two-time Player of the Year selection in the America East Conference (1998, 2000). He was the recipient of the Haggerty Award, given to the top player in the Metropolitan New York area, in 2000 after leading Hofstra to an America East Conference championship and its first NCAA Division I tournament berth in 23 years. Claxton also was a four-time All-America East selection, a four-time All-Metropolitan New York pick, and a three-time NABC All-District selection during his playing career.

His highly successful collegiate career with Hofstra saw Claxton average at least 13.3 points per game in each of his four seasons. He started his career by averaging 15 points per contest during his freshman campaign and his stellar tenure culminated with a 22.8 points per game average in 1999-2000, his senior season. Claxton left his mark in all areas of the game, though, as his career assists and steals totals showcase. He had a high of 7.2 assists per game during his sophomore campaign and his 3.3 steals per game during his senior year was tops during his four-year career.

A native of Hempstead, New York, Claxton notched career-highs in points against Hartford and Maine as he poured in 40 points in back-to-back games in January of 1999. His high of 13 assists occurred twice, including against New Hampshire in 1998 and against Stony Brook during the 1998-99 campaign. Claxton totaled a career-best 11 rebounds versus Drexel in March of 1999.

He had his number 10 jersey retired by Hofstra and was inducted into the Hofstra Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010. He was also honored by the University with an Alumni Achievement Award in 2013.

Claxton enjoyed a decade-long career in the NBA. He was a first round draft pick (20th overall) of the Philadelphia 76ers in 2000. After missing his rookie season due to a knee injury suffered during the preseason, he returned to play in 67 games for Philadelphia in 2001-02 and averaged 7.2 points and 3.0 assists per game. In 2002, he was traded to the San Antonio Spurs and played on San Antonio’s 2003 championship team as the backup to starting point guard Tony Parker, and was on the floor in the fourth quarter of the decisive sixth game against the New Jersey Nets.

In 2003, Claxton was signed a three-year contract with the Golden State Warriors but was traded to the New Orleans Hornets in 2005. In 2006, he signed a four-year contract with the Atlanta Hawks before being traded back to Golden State in 2009, where he finished out his career in 2010.

During his NBA career, Claxton averaged 9.3 points, 4.3 assists, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game. His best season came during the 2004-05 season when he averaged 13.1 points, 6.2 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.9 steals per game while playing for Golden State.

Prior to playing at Hofstra, Claxton was a star at fabled Christ the King High School in Middle Village, New York. He earned All-New York State, All-New York City, and All-CHSAA Brooklyn-Queens accolades and led the Royals to a 26-1 record as a senior. Claxton was inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Christ the King Hall of Fame in 2019.

Claxton, who has three daughters, Aniya, London, and Kiersten, resides in Dix Hills, New York.

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