Who is Ime Udoka? Four things to know about the Celtics’ next head coach

The Celtics seem to have found their next head coach.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Wednesday that Boston is concluding an agreement with Net’s assistant coach Ime Udoka to become the team’s new head coach.

The position opened up for this offseason when Danny Ainge stepped down from his role as Boston GM and former head coach Brad Stevens was moved up to the role of head of basketball operations.

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But how did the Celtics land on Udoka to be the 18th head coach in the team’s history? Here’s everything you need to know about how Udoka was selected with a review of his basketball career.

Previous coaching experience

Udoka has been in the league as an assistant coach for nearly a decade, spending most of that time under his former San Antonio head coach, Gregg Popovich.

After seven seasons in the NBA and a 2012 season playing for UCAM Murcia CB in Spain, Udoka returned to the Spurs in 2012 as an assistant coach. He was hired in 2014 when they beat the Heat to capture the NBA Championship.

Udoka joined the 76ers staff for the 2019-20 campaign before landing with the Nets at the start of the 2020-21 season.

According to Wojnarowski, Stevens appreciated the coaching experience that Udoka had as an assistant coach and that he was a candidate with a high probability of receiving a head coach position in this cycle.

Journeyman player

While in his playing days, Udoka made a number of stops.

Udoka, a 6-foot-6 striker, played collegiately with San Francisco and Portland State and played one season with Club Sportivo Independiente, an Argentine basketball team in the Liga Nacional de Basquet. He was eventually called up to 39th overall in the 2002 NBA Developmental League Draft and spent a season with North Charleston and made a brief stint with the Lakers in 2004, appearing in four games and averaging two points.

The next two seasons, 2004 and 2005, he spent in Europe, where he first played for Gran Canaria in Spain and eventually joined JA Vichy in France. He went through the NBDL draft again in 2005 and was taken third by the Fort Worth Flyers and reached the NBA again in 2006 with the Knicks, where he averaged 2.8 points. He had his best season in 2006-07, when he started 75 games for the Trail Blazers and averaged 8.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists. He played the next four campaigns in San Antonio, averaging 4.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game. Match in 160 games, starting only in three. He had his last stop in Spain with UCAM Murcia CB in 2012, before ending his playing career.

Competing on the world stage

Udoka’s father was born in Nigeria of Ibibio descent, which meant that Udoka could qualify to play for Nigeria in international competition.

He played for the Nigerian national team in the FIBA ​​African Championship 2005, where he helped the team earn the bronze medal. In the last game, Udoka scored 24 points to help Nigeria defeat Algeria 88-76. He continued to play for the team and helped Nigeria get out of the group stage of the 2006 FIBA ​​World Cup.

Udoka later guided the Nigerian national team to another bronze medal in AfroBasket 2011 and defeated Ivory Coast 77-67.

Even as a coach, Udoka found himself back and competed against international competition. He was also an assistant coach in Popovich’s staff for the 2019 World Cup with a list that included Celtics Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart.

Player approval

Udoka has found himself the next Celtics candidate largely because of the relationship he built with players.

According to Wojnarowski, several players showed support that Udoka could be hired after working with him in Team USA.

And this is nothing new for Udoka. According to a report from Sports Illustrated, he was a key factor in Lamarcus Aldridge landing with the Spurs after the two played together in Porland in Aldridge’s first year in the NBA.

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