LIU Athletics

Some unexpected summer college basketball news: LIU has fired Derek Kellogg and is hiring ex-Knicks guard Rod Strickland as its new head coach, according to 247 Sports.

Strickland — a Bronx native who is also Nets star Kyrie Irving’s godfather and someone Stephen A. Smith loves and profoundly respects — has been serving as the G-League Ignite program director. Before that he was an assistant coach at South Florida and served in administrative roles at Memphis and Kentucky under John Calipari.

It’s a strange move at first take. The case to fire Kellogg — on June 29, no less — isn’t obvious. He was 74-74 in five seasons at LIU (the first two at LIU-Brooklyn, the last three after it merged athletics with LIU-Post). Kellogg only had one losing season, the first one after the merger, and he won the NEC title and an NCAA Tournament bid in 2018. He was also coming off a 12-6 finish in the conference last season (16-14 overall).

The obvious speculation is LIU sees this as a big-picture recruiting play. Everyone believes they are a few guys away from transforming their entire school in the post-Saint Peter’s world. So why not bet on Strickland’s name and ties leading to an infusion of talent into the program.

But even if you believe Strickland will deliver just that, the timing is likely to hamstring him to start. It’s almost July. While the evaluation period is about to begin, the transfer portal eligibility deadline has already passed. Most teams have already drawn up their schedules. And he may need to hire a new staff in the coming days. So there may only be so much Strickland can do to impact the coming season at this point.

Also worth noting: Strickland has ties to Knicks president Leon Rose, Knicks executive William “Worldwide” Wesley and Knicks assistant Rick Brunson. Who is the father of future Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson. Who has been compared to Strickland. Round and round we go.

James Kratch can be reached at

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.