Celtics

Celtics

It should be no surprise to anybody within the NCAA game to hear that Brad Stevens not only went to visit one of his former Butler players, Andrew Smith, who is battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma, but will miss Thursday's game against the Bulls after traveling to Indiana to visit him.

The relationship between Stevens and Smith is clearly strong, and that seems to be the case with Stevens and many of his former players at Butler.

But it might not be just a Stevens thing, but an NCAA thing. Fred Hoiberg, who coaches the Chicago Bulls, spent five seasons as head coach at Iowa State.

He was asked by reporters on whether coaches and players form bonds together during those college years.

"You really do. You do develop such a strong bond with your players," Hoiberg told reporters. "It's not just the four years that they're at school with you. It lasts a lifetime. You continue to have relationships with the guys, they become family members. It's something you're always going to go look out for former players. It is a very strong bond."

Tyler Zeller, who played four seasons at the University of North Carolina, agrees with Hoiberg on bonds created at the collegiate level.

"Carolina, we kind of are family people. Just going there, you really do kind of treat everybody there like family," Zeller said. "So it's a great place to be. I think Butler had the same thing. Again, he was head coach there a long time and I think they count him as family. So he does a great job of always looking out for all his players and everybody he works with and everything like that. So it's really cool to be able to see him do this."

Hoiberg and Stevens crossed paths in college numerous times, and the two are fond of each other.

"I got to know Brad very well," Hoiberg said. "Spending time with him on a couple different trips, speaking at clinics with him, having an opportunity to talk to him on the recruiting trail and seeing him at Final Fours. He's a wonderful person and an elite, elite basketball coach."