An Arkansas native and University of Arkansas graduate, Matt Zimmerman returned to his alma mater in 2011 and is in his eighth year with the Razorback men’s basketball program in 2018-19.
After spending five years as a member of the coaching staff, Zimmerman is in his third year as the Director of Basketball Operations and color analyst for the Razorback Sports Network.
He is involved in all facets of the program, including on-campus recruiting, student-athlete visits, team travel, scheduling, summer camps and the budget.
A 21-year basketball coaching veteran at both the high school and collegiate ranks, Zimmerman has been with Mike Anderson for each of the past 16 seasons with stops at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, the University of Missouri and now at the University of Arkansas.
Known for his tireless work ethic, Zimmerman is a high-energy individual whose personality is infectious on the court. Over his 16 seasons on Anderson’s staff, he has been a part of 11 20-win campaigns, nine NCAA Tournament appearances, two Sweet 16 berths and a run to the 2009 Elite Eight.
The Arkansas coaching staff has put the Razorbacks among the national conversation as the program has made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, won at least 23 games each of the last two seasons and continues to do the things to make Arkansas the “Fastest 40 Minutes in College Basketball.”
Last season, Arkansas posted wins over five nationally-ranked teams en route to a 23-12 record and reaching the SEC Tournament semifinal while finishing fourth in the SEC. Guard Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon were both named All-SEC and both signed NBA contracts. Daniel Gafford ranked second in the SEC in blocked shots and was named to the SEC All-Freshman team.
The Razorbacks posted the seventh most wins in program history in 2016-17, as the staff led Arkansas to 12 SEC wins for the fifth time in school history and captured six conference road victories, tying the 1994 championship team and the 2015 NCAA Tournament squad for the most in the SEC era. The Razorbacks ended the season 8-3 in their last 11 SEC road contests, the best stretch since the end of the 1993-94 and beginning of the 1994-95 seasons. Arkansas used its second best free throw percentage in school history (.761) to post a 4-0 record in games decided by one possession and a perfect 24-0 mark when leading with two minutes left in the contest.
In year four at Arkansas in 2014-15, the Razorback fans caught a glimpse of the glory days, as Arkansas returned to the NCAA Tournament and SEC Tournament championship game for the first time since 2008. Highlighted by a victory over Southern Conference champ Wofford in the NCAA Tournament second round and a program record six SEC road wins, Arkansas produced the sixth-most wins in program history with a 27-9 record. Of course, the up-tempo style of play donned the “Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball” reached another level, as the Razorbacks led the SEC in five different statistical categories, including scoring (77.4), assists (16.1) and turnover margin (+3.8).
Zimmerman’s history of developing players was on full display in 2014-15, as sophomore Bobby Portis became just the second Razorback in program history to be named the SEC Player of the Year by both the Associated Press and league head coaches. Portis was the first Razorback to surpass 1,000 points and 500 rebounds as a sophomore and went on to become the 12th player in program history to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, when he went 22nd overall to the Chicago Bulls.
Prior to coming to Arkansas, Zimmerman was an assistant at Missouri and helped the Tigers compile a 111-57 record in Columbia. While just 34-28 in his first two seasons, the individual improvements of the Tigers were evident in year three as Missouri was credited with the best turnaround in the nation in 2008-09, going 31-7 overall, winning the Tigers’ first Big 12 Tournament Championship and advancing to the NCAA Elite Eight. That 2008-09 team’s trip to the NCAA Tournament was the first of three straight postseason appearances for Missouri.
Working with both the guards and the posts, he takes great pride in the individual development of his players, and has watched some of his protégés at Missouri, DeMarre Carroll, Phil Pressey, Kim English and Marcus Denmon become some of the best players in Tiger history. Denmon completed his Missouri career as the second-best three-point shooter in school history, while English earned All-Big 12 honors and was joined by Denmon in the backcourt to create one of the most feared guard tandems in recent memory in the Big 12 Conference.
Zimmerman’s first collegiate coaching position was at UAB, when he joined Anderson for his first season with the Blazers in 2002-03. In four seasons, UAB advanced to four postseason tournaments, including three straight NCAA bids and a dramatic Sweet 16 run in 2004. That year, the Blazers knocked off No. 1 seed Kentucky after defeating Washington in the first round. Along with its postseason accomplishments, UAB also won a share of the Conference USA Championship in 2004 with its impressive 12-4 league record.
During his time at UAB and Missouri, Zimmerman worked with five eventual NBA players: Donell Taylor (Washington Wizards), Squeaky Johnson (New Orleans Hornets), first round draft pick DeMarre Carroll (Toronto Raptors), Kim English (Detroit Pistons) and Phil Pressey (Boston Celtics).
Zimmerman’s coaching career began in the high school ranks in Arkansas, where he spent seven years as a head coach at both Dardanelle High School and Planview-Rover High School. He amassed an impressive 74-46 record as the head coach at Dardanelle over four seasons and guided his team in 2000 to the quarterfinals of the Class AAA State Tournament. The Sand Lizards ended the 2000 season with a record of 24-11 and a No. 7 ranking. After a 17-10 record and state tournament appearance in 2001, Zimmerman led his team to a District 4A Tournament Championship in 2002 with an 18-12 record. He earned District Coach of the Year honors in each of his final three seasons and was named the KARV Dream Team Coach of the Year and River Valley Radio Coach of the Year in 2000.
As the head coach and athletics director at Planview-Rover, Zimmerman led the Panthers to three conference championships and was selected as the 4A South Conference’s Outstanding Boys Coach in 1996. His girls’ team competed in the 1997 State Tournament and finished with a state ranking of No. 10.
A veteran of “The Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball” style that Anderson employs, Zimmerman learned the basics of the system when he was a manager for his alma mater and Naismith Hall of Fame head coach Nolan Richardson. In his three years working with the Razorbacks, Arkansas won two Southwest Conference (SWC) Championships, two SWC Tournament titles and made three NCAA Tournament appearances. He was a part of Arkansas’ 1990 Final Four team, which ended the year 30-5. He also assisted with Razorback Basketball Camps throughout his tenure as manager and high school coach.
A 1990 graduate of Arkansas with a degree in physical education and four years in the ROTC, Zimmerman joined the United States Army after he earned his degree. He would spend five years in the military, earning the rank of Captain, graduating from Airborne School in 1991 and serving with the 1st Infantry Division (The Big Red One) from 1991-95. His other experiences in the military included Platoon Leader, Shop Officer, Company Executive Officer and Battalion Adjutant.