Nets Make Significant Addition to Jacque Vaughn’s Staff: ‘Trusted Leader’

Jacque Vaughn, Brooklyn Nets

Getty Head coach Jacque Vaughn of the Brooklyn Nets.

What is generally a quiet time in most cities around the NBA has been alit with coaching news of late and the Brooklyn Nets joined the action.

“The Brooklyn Nets are hiring Kevin Ollie as an assistant coach,” reported ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski citing sources with knowledge of the situation. “Ollie, who won an NCAA championship as Connecticut’s coach in 2014, had been a finalist for the Detroit Pistons’ head-coaching job this spring.”

A 13-year NBA veteran after going undrafted out of UConn following the 1995 season, Ollie developed a reputation as a “trusted leader” in college, notes Wojnarowski. He left UConn with a 127-79 record underscored by that 2014 national title.

Ollie was fired in 2018 amid an investigation over a slew of recruiting violations, as reported by Billy Witz of the New York Times following the university’s $3.9 million payout to him:

The N.C.A.A. eventually placed Connecticut on two years’ probation in 2019 for a series of rule-skirting maneuvers under Ollie: student managers keeping statistics on pickup games and reporting back to the coaches; a video coordinator breaking down film with players; a friend of Ollie’s who was a trainer not charging players for workouts; and Ollie arranging a call between a recruit and the former Huskies stars Ray Allen and Rudy Gay.

Per Witz, Ollie was also charged with “lying to or misleading investigators”.

Both sides have agreed to not discuss the suit Ollie planned to bring against the school and he now has a position the Times notes he seemed destined for prior to the investigation, albeit a little further down the bench on Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn‘s staff.

Ollie has spent the last two seasons heading up the Overtime Elite league which has become a non-conventional pipeline for NBA talent.

Nets Promote G League Coach of the Year

Not only did the Nets bring in Ollie, but they also added Long Island Nets head coach and the 2023 G League Coach of the Year Ronnie Burrell to Vaughn’s staff, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype on June 3. Burrell, 39, rejoined Long Island last season for his second tour and has had stints with the Atlanta Hawks’ affiliate – the College Park Skyhawks – and Chicago Bulls.

He led the Long Island Nets to the best record in the G League’s Eastern Conference.

Long Island lost to the eventual champion Delaware Blue Hens, the Philadelphia 76ers affiliate, in the G League Playoffs Conference Semi-Finals. Philadelphia swept Brooklyn in the first round of this year’s playoffs.

Like Ollie years before him, Burrell went undrafted out of UNC Greensboro in 2005 but, instead of finding his way to the NBA, the 6-foot-8 forward spent time playing internationally until 2011.

Nets’ Coaching Hires Could Signal Franchise’s Next Direction

Much has been made about the Nets possibly making a big splash this offseason since their best players are entering their prime and they don’t control their first-round picks for the next few years.

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has been a popular if unlikely trade target.

General manager Sean Marks pumped the brakes on that a bit, however, during his exit interview on April 25.

That has not stopped the rumors from swirling but, perhaps, these signings give a better idea of which direction this team is looking to go as it reshapes its identity again.

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