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Le Mars Alum Caleb Cline Reflects on Coaching Journey That Led to the Elite Eight

Caleb Cline – Le Mars alum and University of Arkansas Men’s Basketball Graduate Assistant Coach

Caleb Cline knew from a very early age that basketball would be an integral part of his life. Basketball runs deep in the blood of the Cline family. His brother Eric played on a travel team that his father James was coaching. Getting to watch them was what stoked the fire for Caleb at an early age.

That love for the game would only grow as Caleb began playing on a travel team of his own in fourth grade. That travel team of fourth graders would go on to all play varsity basketball for Le Mars in high school.

The 2015 Le Mars Boys Basketball Team after defeating Spirit Lake in the substate final to advance to state for the first time since 2000.

That “good run” was one of the best runs the Bulldogs had seen in program history. Cline’s senior season was the 2015 state runner-up team that brought the Bulldogs back to the state title game for the first time since 1946. Cline remembers that team as having immense confidence.

As for the coaching world, Cline didn’t give it much consideration until he had spent a year at Northwestern College. He played for a year on the basketball team and decided the fit wasn’t right. He transferred to South Dakota where he planned on being a regular student until he got the urge for basketball again. He initially got in contact with the head women’s coach Dawn Plitzuweit to be an assistant coach but plans would change shortly thereafter.

Cline only saw action in three games as a walk-on at USD. Those three games were a dream come true for a kid who always wanted to play basketball at the highest level.

After his walk-on year, Cline was a student assistant under the Coyotes’ head men’s coach in Todd Lee after expressing an interest in pursuing coaching after college. Lee saw something in Cline and that led to the summer of 2020 when University of Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman was looking for a graduate assistant.

And coach, he did. The two seasons Cline has been with Arkansas have both been fantastic opportunities. The Razorbacks finished each season in the Elite Eight with losses to the 2021 national champion Baylor Bears and to the Duke Blue Devils under Coach Mike Krzyzewski in his final season of his historic career. Cline says getting to coach in a tournament game like that is an experience that is unmatched.

Caleb Cline (third from left) and the Arkansas Coaching Staff prepare to board a flight to Tampa, FL for the SEC Tournament.

Cline’s two seasons with Arkansas have allowed him the opportunities to strategize and coach against some of the greatest basketball minds in the history of the sport. That opportunity has left him awestruck on numerous occasions.

Cline’s advice to kids wanting to pursue a career in coaching is to work hard for your success. Then, once it comes, be appreciative of the opportunity.

This past season was Cline’s final season as a graduate assistant coach with the Razorbacks as he will finish his master’s degree this semester. He is currently weighing his options for coaching positions at the college level and even in the NBA.

You can listen to the full interview with Caleb Cline by clicking below.