By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Croatian coach Neven Spahija and Ukrainian coach Vitaly Potapenko have been named assistant coaches of the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Memphis Grizzlies today announced Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins’ coaching staff, naming Niele Ivey, Brad Jones, David McClure, James “Scoonie” Penn, Vitaly Potapenko and Neven Spahija as assistant coaches. Jason March has also been named head coach of the Memphis Hustle, the Grizzlies’ NBA G League affiliate.
“It gives me great excitement to announce our Memphis Grizzlies coaching staff,” said Grizzlies Head Coach Taylor Jenkins. “With Niele, Brad, David, Scoonie, Vitaly and Neven, we welcome an experienced group of coaches who have had success at all levels of basketball as both players and coaches. Their experiences at the collegiate, international, G League and NBA levels will benefit everyone in our organization. Above all else, I am thrilled to work with great people who will help build a competitive, unselfish, development-focused, and positive environment for our players.”
Ivey (first name pronounced knee-L) comes to Memphis following 12 seasons (2007-19) on the sidelines at her alma mater of Notre Dame, where she served the last four years as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator for the Fighting Irish women’s basketball program under head coach Muffet McGraw. During her time on the sidelines, Ivey helped guide Notre Dame to a 385-55 (.875) record, including seven NCAA Women’s Final Four berths, six NCAA title game appearances, a 2018 national championship and 13 conference championships.
One of the most successful figures in program history, Ivey is the common link between all nine of the school’s Final Four appearances (seven as a coach, two as a player). She earned AP All-America Third Team honors, the first Fighting Irish point guard to be so recognized, and was the recipient of the 2001 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as a senior while leading Notre Dame to its first national title. Following her collegiate playing career, the St. Louis native played five seasons in the WNBA before joining Xavier University for two seasons (2005-07) as an administrative assistant on the women’s basketball staff.
Jones brings nearly 30 years of experience as a coach and scout to the Grizzlies sidelines after serving last season as head coach of the Memphis Hustle, the Grizzlies’ NBA G League affiliate, and guiding the team to a 28-22 record and its first playoff appearance. Jones’ NBA coaching experience also includes four seasons (2012-16) as an assistant coach for the Utah Jazz, two seasons (2010-12) as head coach of the Austin Toros (now Spurs), where he led the team to the 2012 NBA G League championship, and three seasons (2007-10) as head coach of the Utah Flash (now Delaware Blue Coats).
A two-time Mid-South Conference Coach of the Year at his alma mater of Lambuth University, the Pittsburgh native also has spent two seasons (2016-18) as general manager of the Iowa Wolves/Energy and a scout for the Minnesota Timberwolves and has also served six seasons (2001-07) as a scout for the Jazz.
McClure joins the Grizzlies after three seasons (2016-19) under head coach Nate McMillan as an assistant coach for player development for the Indiana Pacers, where he was a part of consecutive playoff appearances in 2017 and 2018. He spent two previous seasons (2014-16) as a player development quality assurance assistant for the San Antonio Spurs, where he worked with Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
A graduate of Duke University, McClure played five years (2004-09) for head coach Mike Krzyzewskiand was a member of the Blue Devils’ ACC title teams in 2005, 2006 and 2009. After leaving Duke, McClure played the 2009-10 season with the NBA G League’s Austin Toros (now Spurs) and was coached by Jenkins, who was an assistant in Austin under current Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder.
Penn comes to Memphis following two seasons (2017-19) as director of player development at his alma mater of Ohio State University, where he was named Big Ten Player of the Year in 1999 and was a two-time All-Big Ten selection in two seasons (1998-2000) with the Buckeyes. He scored 1,076 points at Ohio State, and his 123 points scored in NCAA Tournament play ranks seventh in program history.
Voted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013, the Salem, Massachusetts native was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the 2000 NBA Draft and enjoyed an 11-year professional career in Europe for teams in Italy, Croatia and Greece.
Potapenko (po-TAH-pen-ko), who served as an assistant coach with the Grizzlies last season, has over a decade of coaching experience, including five seasons (2013-18) as the assistant director of player development for the Cleveland Cavaliers, two seasons (2011-13) as an assistant coach for the NBA G League’s Dakota Wizards/Santa Cruz Warriors, one season (2010-11) as an assistant coach for the Indiana Pacers and one season (2009-10) with the NBA G League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants. He won an NBA championship in 2016 while with the Cavaliers.
Nicknamed “The Ukraine Train” during his collegiate career at Wright State University, the Kiev native played 11 NBA seasons for the Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, Seattle SuperSonics and Sacramento Kings after he was selected with the 12th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. He ended his playing career after spending the 2007-08 season with MMT Estudiantes in the Spanish ACB.
Neven Spahija (NEV-in SPA-he-ah), a native of Croatia, has enjoyed a 28-year coaching career internationally, including six League Championships, the 2010 EuroCup Championship, and a two-time winner of the Croatian Cup (2000, 2001), all as head coach. Spahija was most recently in his second stint as head coach for Maccabi Tel Aviv during the 2017-18 season, capturing his second Israeli League Championship (2007, 2018) with the club.
Spahija has three seasons of NBA coaching experience, spending 2014-17 with the Atlanta Hawks. During his tenure with the Hawks, Spahija coached alongside Jenkins and under head coach Mike Budenholzer.
Rounding out the offseason coaching moves, Jason March has been named head coach of the Memphis Hustle, the Grizzlies’ NBA G League affiliate. March, a graduate of Florida State University, previously spent nine seasons in Memphis (2007-16), including two seasons as assistant coach/advance scout for the Grizzlies. He spent his first six seasons with the team in the video department, including time as director of basketball information and technologies. March also served as head coach of the Grizzlies’ summer league squad that went 5-0 and captured the championship at the 2015 Orlando Pro Summer League.
The Olive Branch, Miss., resident makes his return to the Grizzlies organization after three years as an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings (2016-19). March got his start in the NBA with the Phoenix Suns (2005-07) as assistant video coordinator.