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Author Topic: National Basketball Association Action.  (Read 47759 times)
City Father
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« Reply #90 on: July 23, 2019, 02:46:24 pm »

Thunder Announces Coaching Staff Updates

OKLAHOMA CITY, July 23, 2019 – The Oklahoma City Thunder has named David Akinyooye, Dave Bliss, Mark Daigneault, Brian Keefe and Mike Wilks assistant coaches, it was announced today by the team. They join current Thunder assistant coaches Maurice Cheeks and Vin Bhavnani along with director of quality control Billy Schmidt on Head Coach Billy Donovan’s staff.

“Each of our coaches on this year’s staff has a unique perspective on Thunder basketball that we believe will be a great benefit to our players,” said Donovan. “We are thrilled to welcome Brian Keefe back to the program, and seeing Dave, Mark, David and Mike all rise through our ranks to these positions on our staff is a testament to their hard work and dedication. With Mo, Vin and Billy Schmidt also back for next season, I couldn’t be more excited to get to work with this group.”

Akinyooye (ah-kin-YO-yay) joins the Thunder after spending the last four seasons as an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Blue. Akinyooye came to Oklahoma City in 2015 following a one-year stint as an assistant coach in Lyon, France with Asvel Lyon-Villeurbanne Basket.

Prior to his time in Lyon, Akinyooye served as a player development quality assurance assistant with the San Antonio Spurs during their 2013-14 NBA championship season. He began his coaching career in 2012-13 with the New York Knicks in the role of coaching workout associate.

Bliss has been elevated to an assistant coaching position after spending the 2018-19 season as a senior player development coach for the Thunder. Bliss returned to Oklahoma City in 2018 after spending the three previous seasons with the New York Knicks as a player development coach. He previously worked with the Thunder as video analyst/player development coach from 2010-15 and this past month Bliss served as the head coach of the Thunder’s summer league team.

He began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant at the University of Georgia before transitioning to Virginia Commonwealth University to work as a graduate assistant. Bliss worked under Head Coach Shaka Smart during his time at VCU, helping the team to a 27-9 record. A four-year starter at Georgia, Bliss played a key role as the Bulldogs won the school’s second SEC Conference Tournament Championship in 2008.

Mark Daigneault (DAYG-nalt) joins the Thunder sideline after spending the past five seasons as head coach of the Oklahoma City Blue. He led the Blue to four playoff appearances and holds a career 143-107 (.572) record. Daigneault also served as head coach of the Thunder’s summer league team for three consecutive years (2016-2018).

Under Daigneault’s watch the past five seasons, the Blue has seen eight players called up to NBA rosters and four players signed to Two-Way Contracts. During the 2015-16 season, Daigneault joined Donovan’s Thunder coaching staff midseason after Cheeks was sidelined due to hip surgery. Daigneault came to Oklahoma City after spending his previous four years working under Donovan at the University of Florida, where he most recently held the position of assistant to the head coach. Throughout his four years at Florida, the Gators totaled a record of 120-30 (.800), won three SEC titles and advanced to the Elite Eight each year.

Keefe returns to the Thunder sideline for the 2019-20 season after serving previously in the same capacity for five seasons in Oklahoma City (2008-2013). During Keefe’s previous tenure with the Thunder, Oklahoma City advanced to the postseason five straight seasons, including a trip to the NBA Finals in 2012.

Entering his 15th NBA season, Keefe spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers. Before originally joining the Thunder, Keefe spent two seasons (2005-07) as assistant video coordinator for the San Antonio Spurs, winning an NBA Championship as part of Gregg Popovich’s staff during the Spurs’ title run in 2007.

Wilks moves to the Thunder’s bench after spending the previous seven seasons with Oklahoma City as a senior pro evaluation scout. Wilks becomes the second former Thunder player (Royal Ivey) to join the team’s coaching ranks. 

He enjoyed a seven-year NBA playing career where he appeared in 233 games with ten different NBA teams. He holds career averages of 2.5 points, 1.2 assists and 1.0 rebound in 9.6 minutes per game.

Thunder New Release:  https://www.nba.com/thunder/news/release-coachingstaff-190723

“Think for yourself and let others enjoy the privilege of doing so too.” ― Voltaire
City Father
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« Reply #91 on: August 16, 2019, 12:11:05 pm »

Darius Bazley has heard the question.

It's almost always the first thing anyone wants to ask the rookie.

"You get some people here and there they'll just ask you about it, 'Yo, like how was it not going to college?'" Bazley told ESPN recently. "I know when I was going through the whole pre-draft process traveling from team to team before we'd go out and work out, [the other players would] all be talking about college. And someone would pop up and say, 'Well, how was it, just sitting out?'"

It was a little more than a year ago when Bazley decided to forgo a scholarship at Syracuse for a potential path to the NBA via the G League. He then opted to skip the G League as well to instead focus on preparing for the draft.

Bazley isn't the first player in the one-and-done era to bypass the traditional college route before entering the NBA. But the Oklahoma City Thunder forward did something almost entirely unprecedented. After his brief flirtation with joining the G League, Bazley signed an endorsement deal with New Balance that included a one-year internship with the Boston-based sneaker company.

During that year, when he wasn't working out at the company's facility in preparation for his eventual jump into the draft, he was immersing himself in the business side of basketball. He spent time working directly with multiple divisions at New Balance, ranging from marketing to apparel to product testing. He was involved in the design process as New Balance built its first basketball performance shoe since the late 2000s, and got an up-close look at the manufacturing process at New Balance's factory.

While some endorsers get a taste of that with their sneaker companies, Bazley got far more up-close experience, not just getting a tour on a quick visit, but having the opportunity to spend days sitting in meetings, doing product testing and contributing in meaningful ways beyond just picking a sneaker he liked.

In true 21st century NBA fashion, Bazley also got to learn about building a personal brand from New Balance's digital and social teams, even using his Instagram account to provide insight into what his internship was like.

Source:  ESPN NBA - https://www.espn.com/nba/

“Think for yourself and let others enjoy the privilege of doing so too.” ― Voltaire
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