Craig Ehlo enters his second season as an assistant coach at the collegiate level, but he has been involved at all levels of basketball his entire life, including 14 seasons as a player in the National Basketball Association.
As a result, Eastern head coach Jim Hayford sees him as a vital cog not only for on-the-floor coaching, but in recruiting as well.
“Craig excels in the area of individual player development,” said Hayford. “That’s a passion of his and something he does well. Everybody on the staff is responsible for recruiting as well, including Craig. When you are recruiting the caliber of player we want to recruit at Eastern, you are talking about players who want to play professional basketball. So to have somebody on our staff who is a NBA veteran gives us quite a compelling argument why players would want our staff coaching them at Eastern.”
Ehlo settled in Spokane, Wash., after leaving the NBA following the 1996-97 season. He has already been selected to the Washington State University Hall of Fame (2009) and the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame (1996), and was one of 10 inaugural basketball inductees into the Pacific-10 Conference Hall of Honor (2002). In addition, he was one of 12 inaugural inductees into the Lubbock Independent School District Athletics Hall of Honor (2010) and had his jersey retired by Monterey High School in Lubbock, Texas (Dec. 21, 1995).
After his retirement from the NBA, Ehlo worked extensively as a television analyst, including full schedules for the Seattle SuperSonics and Gonzaga. He has also worked on broadcasts for his alma mater, Washington State University, as well as EWU.
He spent three seasons as head coach at Rogers High School in Spokane, Wash., from 1998-2001. Ehlo also spent six years coaching in one of the nation’s most esteemed camp programs, the Nike Skills Academy. Ehlo coached high school players while working alongside such current NBA superstars as LeBron James, Steve Nash, Vince Carter, Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Deron Williams. It originally took place in Beaverton, Ore., but is now a traveling camp.
A native of Lubbock, Ehlo played at Odessa Junior College in Texas where he earned honorable mention All-America honors as a sophomore, after leading the Wranglers to a 26-9 record. Ehlo then concluded his collegiate playing career at WSU in Pullman, Wash., and eventually returned to Washington State to earn his bachelor’s degree in 1999.
He helped lead the 1982-83 Cougars to a 22-6 record and the second round of the NCAA Tournament where they lost to Virginia and Ehlo’s future NBA teammate, Ralph Sampson. That came after Ehlo scored 18 points in a first-round victory over Weber State of the Big Sky Conference, representing WSU’s first postseason win since 1941. Picked to finish fifth in the Pacific-10 Conference, WSU won seven of its last eight games of the regular season and finished 14-4 in the league and a perfect 14-0 at home at Friel Court.
He was taken in the third round of the 1983 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets. He played 14 NBA seasons with four teams, amassing respectable career totals of 7,492 points (8.6 per game), 2,456 assists (2.8) and 3,139 rebounds (3.6). He played in 873 career games, starting 321, and helped lead his teams to the NBA Playoffs in 10 of his 14 seasons in the league.
Ehlo played on the 1985-86 Houston Rockets team that advanced to the NBA Finals, losing the series 4–2 to the Boston Celtics. He played three total seasons in Houston.
He spent the prime of his career with Cleveland, where he tallied 5,130 points, 1,803 assists, and 2,267 rebounds in seven seasons (1986–1993). He averaged in double figures in scoring for five seasons from 1989-90 to 1993-94, with career-best averages of 13.6 points, 4.6 assists and 5.4 rebounds coming in the ’89-90 campaign. That Rockets team finished 42-40 and lost 3-2 to Philadelphia in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
One season earlier, he was guarding Chicago Bulls Hall of Famer Michael Jordan on May 7, 1989, when Jordan sank his legendary series-clinching jumper in Cleveland in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
Ehlo spent three seasons (1993-96) with the Atlanta Hawks, and then signed with the Seattle SuperSonics for the 1996-97 season.
Ehlo was born Aug. 11, 1961, in Lubbock, Texas. His wife, Jani, is also a graduate of WSU. They have three children -- Erica, 23, Austin, 21, and Gavin, 16. Austin plays football as a wide receiver at Whitworth University.