John Linehan, one of the premier defensive players in college basketball history, has joined the Georgia Basketball staff as an assistant coach, head coach Tom Crean announced on Saturday.
“I’m excited about adding John Linehan to this staff,” Crean said. “I simply love his background and his story. He has a solid foundation in coaching and amazing playing experience. He is the all-time NCAA D-I steals leader, was two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year and had a long and highly successful professional career overseas. He grew up in the same area as Kobe Bryant, and I heard Kobe say one time that John Linehan was the toughest defender he ever faced.
“The bottom line is, no matter what you’re doing, you’ve got to have people who are making your players better in every facet of their lives on a daily basis, and that’s what I think John’s going to bring to our staff,” Crean added. “He has attacked recruiting and player development and has a defense-first mentality that has made every program he has been a part of better. We feel he will do the same at UGA”
Linehan has spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at Hartford following stints at Brown, Drexel and Temple.
“I’m extremely excited to be joining Georgia Basketball,” Linehan said. “Tom Crean is a great coach. Being able to work along side him along with Georgia’s incredible staff of Chad Dollar and Joe Scott is an amazing opportunity for me to learn and grow as a coach. Also, the University of Georgia is a big-time school with a great reputation, both for its academics and its athletics. Georgia Basketball has always been very relevant, and I’m excited about the opportunity to help the program grow to even greater heights.”
Linehan was one of the most decorated defensive players in NCAA history at Providence. He holds the Division I career record with 385 steals and was the consensus 2002 National Defensive Player of the Year, being honored as such by the NABC, ESPN.com and College Insider.com. Linehan also won the 2002 Bob Cousy Award as the top senior in New England who is less than six-feet tall. He was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year in both 2001 and 2002 and also earned second-team All-Big East honors in each of those seasons.
Linehan led the Big East in steals in conference action during three of his four seasons with the Friars and holds the league single-game steals record with 11 against Rutgers on Jan. 22, 2002.
Linehan enjoyed a long and successful professional playing career from 2002-14. He was named Defensive Player of the Year in France’s Pro A League four times with three different teams – in 2005 and 2006 for Paris-Levallois, in 2010 for Cholet and in 2011 for Nancy. Linehan also was the Defensive Player of the Year in Estonia’s Pro A League in 2009.
In addition, Linehan played for the Harlem Globetrotters in 2004, for the Dakota Wizards of the Continental Basketball Association and for the Greenville Groove of the NBA D-League.
Prior to his most recent stint at Hartford, Linehan spent the 2016-17 season as an assistant coach at Brown. He was an operations assistant at Drexel during the 2015-16 campaign and worked as a graduate assistant at Temple in 2014-15. Linehan also served as a volunteer assistant for the Delaware 87ers and the Philadelphia 76ers in the summer of 2015.
Two of the five staffs featuring Linehan have advanced to postseason play. At Temple, Linehan helped the Owls post a 26-11 record and reach the semifinals of the NIT. During his tenure at Hartford, the Hawks finished third and fourth in the America East in 2018 and 2019, respectively, and earned a postseason invitation to the CIT in 2018.