Ex-Christ the King Star to Lead Hofstra Hoops

New Hofstra University men’s basketball coach Speedy Claxton (right) is introduced by Hofstra’s Vice President and Director of Athletics Rick Cole Jr. (Photo: Courtesy of Hofstra University)

The Hofstra University men’s basketball program has a new head coach, and it’s a familiar face.

Craig “Speedy” Claxton, a graduate of Christ the King H.S., Middle Village, who played parts of seven seasons in the NBA, has been tabbed the Pride’s next head coach following former head coach Joe Mihalich’s shift to becoming a special adviser to the school’s athletic director.

Born in Hempstead, Claxton, 42, grew up in Corona and played Catholic Youth Organization basketball at St. Gabriel, East Elmhurst. The rich basketball tradition of Christ the King led the “speedy” point guard to Middle Village.

“They’re known for producing great players,” Claxton said. “They’re a high school basketball powerhouse.”

He played on the freshmen, junior varsity, and varsity teams for the Royals. Alongside teammates and future NBA players Lamar Odom and Erick Barkley, Claxton helped lead the Royals to a CHSAA city championship in 1995. The following year, the team finished as city title runner-up.

Playing in the competitive CHSAA prepared Claxton for the next steps of his career. He developed a strong work ethic and a desire to win — both of which would pay dividends later on.

“I was used to playing against good competition night in and night out,” he said. “I don’t think I was able to have a night off when I was playing in high school. I was always playing against somebody who was looking to prove themselves, or I was looking to prove myself.”

Claxton stayed close to home when he chose to play his college ball at Hofstra. He was a two-time America East Conference Player of the Year, and in 2000, he won the prestigious Haggerty Award while also being named America East Tournament MVP en route to leading the Pride to the NCAA Tournament. He’s a member of Hofstra’s Hall of Fame and had his No. 10 jersey retired.

The Philadelphia 76ers selected the 5-foot, 11-inch guard 20th overall in the first round of the 2000 NBA draft. For his pro career, he averaged 9.3 points, 4.3 assists, and 2.5 rebounds per game for the Sixers, San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors, New Orleans Pelicans, and Atlanta Hawks. He was the backup point guard on the 2003 Spurs team that won the NBA title.

After a brief stint as a college scout for the Warriors, Claxton broke into coaching in 2013 as a special assistant at Hofstra. As a proven winner, he had the credibility and experience needed to succeed as a coach.

“I think I have knowledge for this game, and I want to share it and help these kids achieve the dreams and goals that I did,” he said.

Now playing in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), Hofstra is coming off an 8-6 season and a semifinal loss to Elon University, N.C., in the CAA Tournament. The previous year, the Pride won the CAA Tournament and earned a March Madness berth only to see the entire tournament canceled due to COVID-19.

Hofstra is familiar territory for Claxton, so he’s grateful to have his first head coaching job there after spending the last handful of years as an assistant for the Pride.

“This is the only place I actually ever wanted to coach,” he said. “I’m thankful for the opportunity and looking forward to representing this university going forward.”

Just like his “Speedy” nickname suggests, Claxton is not wasting any time getting down to business. His immediate goal is to lead his team to a conference championship.

“We have a championship mindset, and we’re going to approach every game like we’re champions,” he said. “That’s what I want to instill in these kids. Practice like a champion and compete like a champion.”

Claxton was a champion at every level as a player, and now he has the chance to prove he can also be a champion as a coach.

Contact Jim Mancari via email at