Neighbors introduced as Razorbacks’ new women’s coach

Mike Neighbors is coming home.

The coach at the University of Washington and native of Greenwood will be replacing Jimmy Dykes as the coach of Arkansas’ women’s basketball program.

“Everything I needed to know I learned right here in Fayetteville, Arkansas,” Neighbors wrote in a letter posted to the Razorbacks’ website. “I’m going to be able to share and point it out now that I’m living my dream. This is the dream job. It’s always been my dream job and everyone has known it.

“When I hear my name introduced, there will be a lot of people that will tell me my grandad would have been proud. I know how much this means to my family.”

Dykes graduated from Arkansas in 1993 and has worked for the Hogs twice — as director of operations under Gary Blair from 1999-2001 and an assistant coach for Susie Gardner in 2006-07.

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Neighbors was an assistant coach at Tulsa, Colorado, Xavier and Washington before being promoted by the Huskies to his first college head coaching job in 2013.

Neighbors was a high school head coach at Bentonville and Cabot in the 1990s.

In 1997 he led Bentonville to a state runner-up finish two seasons after the program had finished with a 1-24 record.

He replaces Dykes, who was the surprise choice for the job in 2014, had three rather dismal years. He had no previous experience coaching women’s basketball and no head coaching experience at any level.

The Razorbacks finished this past season on an 11-game losing streak.

Washington was 29-6 this season and was eliminated by national runner-up Mississippi State in the Sweet 16.

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Neighbors guided Washington to four seasons of unprecedented success, highlighted by the 2016 NCAA Final Four and two NCAA Sweet 16 appearances.

Named the program’s head coach after two years as an assistant, Neighbors led the Huskies to a 98-41 record that was fueled by three consecutive 23-plus win seasons and included four postseason appearances (3 NCAA, 1 WNIT).

This time, Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long may have made the right hire.

“Everything that I have done in my career has prepared me to be the head women’s basketball coach at the University of Arkansas,” Neighbors said. “As a native Arkansasan, I understand how special our state and the University are. There is only one Razorback and I’m excited to be able to put that logo on my chest and represent our institution and our state across the country.

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“This is my dream job and everyone who knows me, knows that. I grew up wanting to be a Razorback and then a Razorback coach and the four years I spent at Arkansas prepared me for this moment.

“It prepared me for my first job and it prepared me for the head coaching job at Washington four years ago. Now it has come full circle and I’m back at Arkansas.

“Arkansas is a special place.

“We have all the resources in place to be successful on the court and more importantly, to foster the growth and development of the young women who come through our doors.”