Jr. NBA Coach of the Year

The Jr. NBA and Positive Coaching Alliance have partnered together to create a program designed to honor influential youth basketball coaches and the impactful work that they do for our game. The Jr. NBA Coach of the Year award is given to two youth basketball coaches –  one community coach and one scholastic  coach – in an NBA, WNBA, or G League team market who demonstrate leadership and integrity, exhibit a positive attitude towards all players, coaches, parents, and referees, and create a lasting impact on young people aged 14 and under both on and off the court.

We are excited to announce the team nominees for the 2023-24 season! Please visit the Community and Scholastic Nominee tabs to learn more about the amazing coaches who have been nominated to represent their respective NBA, WNBA, and G League team markets.

  • About The Program

    From the grassroots level to the professional level, the positive impact that a coach can have on an athlete is invaluable. A coach’s role extends beyond wins and losses to teaching life lessons and developing young people into healthy, confident and respectful adults through the medium of sport.

    The Jr. NBA Coach of the Year program will celebrate two categories of coaches: community and scholastic.  This initiative will recognize community and scholastic coaches across the youth basketball landscape who are committed to teaching the game we love at the grassroots level.

    • Jr. NBA Community Coach of the Year: This award goes to a coach that exhibits a lasting impact on their community as a whole; coach can work with non-profit and community organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, other non-profit youth-based organizations, or club/travel-based programs.
    • Jr. NBA Scholastic Coach of the Year: This award goes to a school coach, which could include a P.E. teacher, a teacher that coaches the school-based team, or a part-time employee that coaches the school team.

    Each participating NBA, WNBA and G League team can nominate a local coach in each respective category to automatically entered into the national Coach of the Year selection process. The Jr. NBA and Positive Coaching Alliance conduct a screening process to narrow the pool of nominees to five (5) national finalists per category. From the round of five, an executive panel of judges, an interview, and a public fan vote via social media determine the national Jr. NBA Coach of the Year winners.

  • 2024 Community Nominees

    The following individuals have been recognized by various NBA, WNBA, and NBA G League teams for their dedication and influence in their local youth basketball communities in 2023-24.

    Clark Humble
    Atlanta Hawks

    Clark Humble has been coaching youth sports for 24 years with basketball being his true love. A high school benchwarmer, his love of the game grew in intramurals in college and adult leagues afterwards. Two sons followed and he coached at a local church before finding East Marietta Basketball through the local parks and rec program. He took on increasing responsibility as an age group commissioner and now president for the past 11 years, growing the program from 600 to 1,100 players in the winter and creating a spring league with another 500 players, all while still coaching multiple teams. He has raised over $30,000 over the years for scholarships so that everyone could play. He has used the court as his classroom, pushed his players on their school focus and volunteerism, advised them on their college admissions, internships, and jobs. He has involved his players in a wide array of community outreach; volunteering at the food bank, holiday toy drives, feeding the homeless, and co-founding a special needs basketball camp entirely run by league players. Clark also helps run an outreach and mentoring program for the children of inmates (kidz2leaders), and many of his players have given a week of their summer to guide and mentor these great young people that just need positivity and encouragement. He has also fostered an environment for the high school players to coach the younger age groups and his “coaching tree” is vast with deep roots (two are graduate assistants in the Big10 and ACC). He credits his success on the court to defining success for his players, expecting meaningful contributions from each player, and a season long training program to help each of those players feel the sense of accomplishment for being part of something bigger than themselves. Many players have come back to say that after playing for him, they held themselves to a higher standard in their life pursuits and to living a life of “to whom much is given, much is expected.”

    Manny Cabral
    Boston Celtics

    Manny Cabral is the youth and family program director in West Roxbury.

    Daman Brown
    Brooklyn Nets

    Daman Brown is a Bronx native who has been serving his community for 15 years. He believes that basketball is a great way to help student athletes further their educational goals while learning vital interpersonal skills. Daman is a math teacher and coach for the Department of Education. He also coaches at Scanlan High School. Daman is a Player Development Director for the New York Wiz Kids program in the Bronx where he grew up playing himself. His programs have produced two All-Americans and he has won a championship with his High School team.

    Kelvin Drakeford
    Charlotte Hornets

    Kelvin Drakeford has 12 years of coaching experience at Cannon School (5 years on the boys’ side). He also has 2 NCISAA 4A State Championships (2021,2024) and a 124-57 Career Record.

    D'Amonte Ellis
    Chicago Bulls

    D’Amonte Ellis also known as “Coach D” is a Youth Hoops Coach for the Chicago Bulls, and Sophomore Basketball Head Coach and Track & Field Coach at Willowbrook High School in Villa Park, IL. D’Amonte is extremely passionate about the game of basketball as he started playing in the Jr. NBA at a very young age of 6 years old. D’Amonte has blossomed into a great role model over his years leading and impacting youth all over the Chicago land area. He is a former collegiate basketball player who also played semiprofessionally in the ABA all while not playing in high school. D’Amonte never allowed adversity to stop his love for the game of basketball and uses that same passion while coaching. During the pandemic he made the decision to stop pursing professional basketball overseas to focus on coaching youth. Coach D has a passion for the youth and challenges each and every player to be 1% better every day. He has run basketball camps all over the Chicago land area, positively impacting kids through camps, charities and Chicago Bulls camps and clinics. He values every relationship he builds through coaching basketball as a coach and as a mentor and has evolved into a role model by promoting growth and building confidence and is a living testimony of no matter what you go through in life to Keep Going.

    Justin Blunt
    Chicago Sky

    Justin Blunt is a passionate advocate for youth empowerment through basketball. With a deep commitment to giving back to the community, Justin has dedicated countless hours to coaching, mentoring, and supporting young athletes (boys and girls) from the ages of 6-19 in their personal and athletic development. Through leadership on and off the court, Justin inspires the next generation to strive for excellence, embodying the values of teamwork, perseverance, and sportsmanship. In doing so Justin is an advocate in education, a role model for responsibility, and a bridge between education and athletics.

    Brian Klypchak
    Cleveland Cavaliers

    Brian Klypchak is a Cleveland, OH native and has been a Greater Cleveland YMCA Coach for the past 6 years. He helps lead Cavs Academy programming for kids 4-7 years old. He has added both his wife and son to the Cavs Academy family as a coach and player. Worked with over 4 different youth enrichment programs along with local grassroots sports teams.

    Bridgette King
    Dallas Wings

    Coach Bridgette “Bree” King has been the co-owner and Head Coach of the Lady Panthers Girls Basketball Association out of Duncanville, TX for 14 years. During that time, Coach Bree and her wonderful coaching staff have coached the Lady Panthers squads to local, state, national and international tournament championships. Coach Bree has earned her Education Doctorate in Sport Management, serves on two federal government sports committees, and has received the 2016 White House Champions of Change for Extracurricular Enrichment for Marginalized Girls of Color Award from President Obama, as well as, both the 2016 and 2019 President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition Community Leadership awards from President Obama and President Trump. Coach Bree is currently a Youth Sports Programmer for the City of Fort Worth Youth Sports Division and is married to her awesome husband of 19 years, Mark, and they have a beautiful daughter, Sierra, who played for the Lady Panthers program for 11 years and for Duncanville High School.

    Kalhie Quinones
    Denver Nuggets

    Kalhie is a Colorado native, born and raised in Loveland. She graduated from Thompson Valley High and landed a full ride scholarship to Otero Jr. College where she played basketball for Tim Moser. Once finished at Otero, she transferred to Utah State University playing for Raegan Peebly. She ended up at the University of Alaska Anchorage where they finished the season with a record of 30-5, winning the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and the Alaskan Shootout. Kalhie started every season she played in her college career and was a fierce defender who was always hungry for competition, growth, and teamwork. She now serves the youth of Colorado by coaching and instilling positive habits that will help them grow as athletes and people.

    Columbus Williams
    Detroit Pistons

    Coach Columbus Williams is a graduate of Old Dominion University. He has been a five-year varsity assistant coach and a one-year head varsity coach for the high school levels. Coach Columbus has helped place over 100 boys and girls into college through his AAU program and at the high school level. His goal for his athletes is for them to become positive role models in life. He also wants them to understand how to use basketball as a helpful tool in their lives and understand the life values in the sport.

    Isai Rivera
    Golden State Warriors

    Isai Rivera – Born and raised in Salinas, CA. Isai is the Program Director for the North County Recreation and Park District in Castroville, CA. Additionally, he serves as the Director and coach in the Junior Warriors Basketball League. In just two and a half years, the program has grown from 110 to 250 participants aged 5-13.Isai also serves as the head coach for Youth Track and Field at our North County Rec.

    Van Girard II
    LA Clippers

    Coach Van Girard II is the LA Clippers’ Community Coach of the Year Award Winner. Coach Girard II is the founder of the Girard Sports Academy and TeamG High School Basketball Club. While he started coaching in 2013, Coach Girard II has always been involved with basketball. He played collegiately for 3 years at Cal State Dominguez Hills and went on to play professional basketball overseas for 6 years. Coach Van Girard II has dedicated his work to shaping and mentoring leaders of the next generation. Coach Girard II instills confidence in his players while teaching the valuable skills of teamwork, determination, and positivity through basketball. His impact has a long-lasting effect on his players, who will carry these skills/learnings on with them into their adult lives.

    Jay Jackson
    Los Angeles Lakers

    Jay Jackson started his employment at the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and GEV in 1995, the year the club first opened. He has been in charge of overseeing and implementing the athletics programs at the Club for the past 28 years for youth ages 9-17. His goal as an athletic mentor is to motivate young people to reach their full potential in basketball, whether they have a true passion in basketball or not. His philosophy is to encourage and create a fun environment for all youth. During his career, he has partnered with the Lakers, Dodgers, and LA Galaxy. Jay also works closely with 23 school sites to ensure the athletic programing is meeting Boys & Girls club standards and that all youth have the opportunity to participate in sports including basketball, soccer, flag football, tennis, golf and baseball. He has led multiple referee trainings as well as safety and sportsmanship at his location. He also trains staff to be equipped with the knowledge when working with youth. Jay has been running a co-ed basketball program at the club for 27 years in three divisions: 7-9, 10-12 and 13-17. His coaching philosophy has been to teach basic basketball fundamentals on the court, while stressing the importance of education and hard work off the court. Jay has provided basketball clinics and camps led by professional players and trainers to enhance the experience for the youth in his community. He has also led his mentees back to the local community in which they live to volunteer at homeless shelters and to ultimately become mentors as well. His personal goal is to teach the value of character, self-esteem, sportsmanship, teamwork, and respect for self and others, through the game of basketball.

    Jessie McClain
    Memphis Grizzlies

    Jessie McClain is a Memphis native. His love and passion for sports, community empowerment, and enhancement began at a young age. This passion has led him to various community coaching roles over the past eight years which utilize his strengths and knowledge of the game. He has coached in several different community centers in the Memphis Parks and Recreation system. Jessie is admired by his community and advocates for its well-being, safety, and success as the Assistant Community Director.

    Raul Duany
    Miami Heat

    Raul Duany is the Public Affairs Officer for the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation, Miami Field Office. In this role, he supports the Southern Judicial District of Florida, and the judicial districts of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands, planning, directing, and executing national communication initiatives to convey complex information for IRS-CI programs, responsibilities and activities. In 2022, he was awarded the IRS-CI Communications Difference Maker Award. Prior to his current role, Raul served as Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, for the American Cancer Society, the largest voluntary health organization in the United States— 4 million strong. In this role, he led strategic communications to engage and inspire stakeholders committed to saving lives and creating a world with less cancer by helping people stay well, get well, finding cures, and by fighting back.

    Before joining the Society in 2014 as a member of the executive management team, he worked in several strategic and corporate communications roles with international and global companies such as Western Union Financial Services and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Prior to that, he served in the US Army and in senior civilian leadership positions with the U.S. government, including the Pentagon’s U.S. Southern Command, and in various assignments with the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and U.S. Immigration.

    He holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising and numerous graduate-level US government courses in journalism, public relations and strategic communications. He served on the first-ever Western Union Executive In-Residence program in New Delhi, India, supporting a nonprofit, and is recipient of a Hispanic Achiever in Corporate Responsibility Award from the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, among other awards. He is the former Founding Chairman of the Puerto Rican Professional Association, one of the largest Puerto Rican organizations in the US, and serves on the Board of Community Smiles, a community-based, fully accredited, nonprofit dental clinic whose mission is providing oral health education and improving access to dental care for the uninsured, low-income children and families of Miami-Dade County. Additionally, Raul is also a High School Boys’ Varsity Basketball Coach at Divine Savior Academy, and Founding Director of Miami Dynasty Basketball where he serves hundreds of South Florida children between the ages of 5 and 18 years old.

    Jimmy Washington
    New Orleans Pelicans

    Jimmy Washington has been coaching for 34 years and his JCW Foundation Inc, has been a force for good in providing recreational sports, community outreach, and life skills information, to actively engage youth and families in Alexandria, Louisiana.

    Mike Simmel
    New York Knicks

    Coach “Mighty Mike” Simmel battled epilepsy from the age of 2. Playing basketball became his outlet and passion. As a 16-year-old, he was asked to leave a basketball camp because he had a seizure, and that event became the cornerstone of Bounce Out the Stigma. From Special Education gym class to a high school and college standout, Mike overcame the challenges, and played for the World-Famous Harlem Wizards for 13 years! During his time on the team, he started Bounce Out the Stigma Project, which revolved around offering basketball programming for children with special needs.

    Mike’s organization is dedicated to ensuring his players never feel as if they don’t belong on the court and proving that basketball is more than just a sport but something that can teach social skills and confidence which can make a massive impact on his players’ lives. Today, Bounce Out the Stigma has a presence in 25 states throughout the country, that has reached over 1,000 young people with special needs.

    Mahamadou Hydara
    New York Liberty

    Mahamadou Hydara helped to found Neighborhood United in the Spring of 2020. He is the current Athletic Director and Co-CEO of the organization. Mahamadou is a physical education teacher at a local Bronx elementary school. He acquired a master’s degree in Sports Management from Adelphi University. Originally from the Bronx, he loves coaching youth basketball to the kids in his community. He has a special mission in amplifying the voices and play of young girls in basketball, which is often overshadowed in the sports arena.

    Herb Washington
    Orlando Magic

    Herb Washington started coaching in the 1980s when he led one of Orlando’s city youth recreation leagues. In the ’90s, he started coaching a Junior Orlando Magic team affiliated with his church, Agape Perfecting Praise. Over the past 43 years, Washington has coached hundreds of players, including multiple generations of the same family.

    Robert Price
    Philadelphia 76ers

    Coach Robert “Lucky” Price was born and raised in Wilmington, De. He is the Athletic Director of the Wilmington PAL located in Wilmington, DE, where his role is to create co-ed opportunities for student athletes to learn sports that can also help generate life lessons. He is also the head coach of the A.I Dupont Tigers women’s H.S Team. Washington’s coaching interest began early in life, as he was heavily influenced by traditional sports such as football, baseball, & basketball. Throughout his childhood and scholastic career, he honed his skills at various Rec centers, Boys & Girls Clubs, numerous summer league teams, AAU teams and high school sports. These experiences led him to play college basketball at Valley Forge, Lackawanna, & Manor College. His basketball career continued for some time with him playing semi-pro overseas in Melbourne, Australia. While also playing approx. 4 years for numerous organizations: NBRL, NBL, Delaware Destroyers, New Jersey Express, and the Baltimore Beltway Bombers. Each place allowed him to develop his coaching passion.

    His coaching interest started when he was just 12 years old at H. Fletcher Browns Boys & Girls Club. He loved watching former basketball standouts, and he looked to give back their knowledge and wisdom in the community. That is what inspired him to be a coach to this day, the life lessons he can teach to the next generation. In 1999 although he was still actively playing basketball, he began my coaching journey. Washington started his own AAU program called Lucky’s All-Stars from (99-05). During that time, he also coached in the Lt. Governor John Carney’s community League from (04-08). Presently he coaches in Duffy’s Hope Summer Community League (08-present) and Browns Boys and Girls Club team. In 2006 -2007, he began to coach scholastically at an alternative middle/high school in Wilmington, DE called DAPPY/Central Middle & High School as the girls head basketball coach. In (10-12) he went to Moyer Academy Middle & High School to run the middle school basketball program; he also was the assistant coach to the varsity program. His coach journey then took an unexpected path in (13-17) to Penngrove, PA at Oxford Area Middle & High School for 5 years where he was the head coach of the middle school program, plus assistant coach to the Varsity team as well. Finally, in (17-18) he made his way back home to Delaware to coach the girls Varsity and JV teams at the Wilmington Christian School. Then in (18-19) he began coaching the girls team at Brandywine High for 3years, and won a Flight B championship.

    Currently, for the last 3 years, Washington has run the girls team at A.I. DuPont High school. In 2024 he earned his 50<sup>th</sup> head coaching win in 3 years, with an overall record of (58-14). He has coached three straight Undefeated Flight B championships, and three straight Blue Hen Conference Championships. The team is still working on getting their school’s 1<sup>st</sup> state title.

    Colleen DeMeo
    Phoenix Mercury

    Colleen DeMeo was born in Kansas City and raised in Cave Creek, AZ. Starting early, Colleen desired to compete with her older siblings and so joined the swim team as the only swimmer in her age division. She never won once, but always enjoyed the race. Throughout school, Colleen balanced volleyball, basketball, and tennis and also excelled in academics, earning the prestigious AIA Scholar Athlete Award for four consecutive years. Colleen attended The University of Arizona on scholarship and pursued graduate studies at Loyola University Chicago before happily returning back home to the valley to open a private counseling practice. She works as a licensed therapist with adolescents and adults, specifically trained to address the needs of adolescents within the LGBTQ community. Colleen has two girls; ages 10 and 8 and is grateful to share her love of sports with them. Colleen enjoys coaching for the same reasons she enjoys being a therapist; it’s an opportunity to assist others to find the best in themselves, to help build a foundation of tolerance, confidence, and acceptance at an early age, and to develop a sense of unshakeable self-worth.

    David Solano
    Phoenix Suns

    Coach David Solano has been an award-winning basketball coach and educator in Phoenix for 25 years. He started coaching at Desert West Community Center in 1998, became a scholastic coach in 2006 and founded the nonprofit Solano’s No Limit Hoops in 2018. He currently teaches fourth grade at Palm Lane Elementary School, is the basketball coach at Raul H. Castro Middle School and leads SNLH, a free basketball program that he created for the youth in the neighborhood where he grew up. Coach Solano has Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita and uses a wheelchair yet has not let any of that stop him from becoming a successful teacher, coach and role model in his community of West Phoenix. He lives by the motto “Anything is possible.”

    Adrian Romero
    Portland Trail Blazers

    Adrian Romero grew up in Irrigon, OR and attended Lewis and Clark college in Portland, Oregon. Romero received a degree and currently works for Coursource as a BDR. He is also the co-founder of Bilingual Basketball.

    Juanesha Maxfield
    San Antonio & Austin Spurs

    Coach Juanesha Maxfield, from Dime Box, TX, has transformed her passion for basketball into a driving force for community and youth development. Establishing a basketball program that teaches not just the sport but also leadership and teamwork, she’s empowering young athletes from Dime Box and surrounding rural areas. Her dedication to providing opportunities in underserved regions has made her a respected community leader. Through her work, Coach Maxfield demonstrates the transformative impact of sports, inspiring the next generation to overcome obstacles and achieve their dreams with determination.

    Barbie Gomez
    Santa Cruz Warriors

    Barbie Gomez is a leader, mentor, coach, and advocate for youth in the Pajaro Valley of South Santa Cruz County in California. Through 831 Sports Leagues, she continues to make opportunities available for under-represented youth, teaching them the importance of sports and off the court.

    Clint Dixon
    Toronto Raptors

    Coach Clint Dixon continuously works hard to go above and beyond to teach his athletes how to develop basketball skills in a healthy way. He strives to not only help them reach their own athletic potential, but also inspires them to better themselves off the court as well. Coach Clint also organized a partnership with the Nick Nurse Foundation and ran camps for underprivileged kids for the past two summers. With the help of some eager volunteer coaches, CSA, and funding from the Nick Nurse Foundation, he played an instrumental role in providing hundreds of kids from all over the GTA with the experience of a lifetime – basketball skill development and the exciting opportunity to be coached by former Raptors head coach, Nick Nurse himself.

    Britanie Williams
    Utah Jazz

    Britanie Williams grew up in Ogden, Utah and is thrilled to be raising her three children in her hometown. She grew up participating in various recreation sports programs, often coached by her parents. She attended Utah State University and graduated with a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering. She truly enjoyed working in the engineering field. Once their family started to grow in number, Britanie decided to put her working life on hold and focus on raising her children. Britanie is currently serving as the PTA president at her children’s school and has been serving on the community council for the last 8 years. Ogden City works hard to prioritize youth by providing quality programs that are accessible and affordable for all families. This doesn’t happen without an amazing community of volunteers. Britanie is grateful to be able to contribute to this rich culture of service and involvement.

  • 2024 Scholastic Nominees

    The following individuals have been recognized by various NBA, WNBA, and NBA G League teams for their dedication and influence in their local youth basketball communities in 2023-24.

    Anthony Hand
    Atlanta Hawks

    Anthony Hand’s aspirations of being a great coach led him to work at Cumberland Academy of Georgia as the Head Boys Middle School Basketball Coach and Assistant Girls and Boys Varsity Basketball Coach – while coaching Cross Country, Soccer, Golf, and leading the Boys and Girls Track and Field Team to the First Place Victory for 2022-2023 AAC Championship. Anthony went on to work at CMCH Elementary and Middle School where he currently is the Athletic Director, P.E teacher and the Head Coach of all sports (baseball, football, basketball).

    Anastasia Bitis
    Brooklyn Nets

    Anastasia Bitis is a Queens Native that has 10+ years in coaching at all levels. Anastasia Bitis began coaching basketball at Maspeth HS, where she led the team to a 2015 PSAL B Division Championship, while also advancing to the finals of the New York State Federation Championship. Under her guidance, Maspeth also won four straight Division titles. In 2017, Anastasia became the Head Coach of the Women’s Basketball Team at York College, where she turned the program around and advanced to the conference Semifinals for the first time in over 10 years in the 2020 season. Anastasia is now co-founder/ instructor for Strive Sports based in Queens, New York.

    Ron Johnson
    Charlotte Hornets

    A native of Somerset, N.J., Ron recently completed his 3rd year as the Head Boys Varsity Basketball Coach at Providence Day School in Charlotte, NC. In his first three years at PDS he’s led the Chargers to a 61-26 overall record, two Conference Championships, and two State Final Four appearances and State Runner-Up finish.

    Prior to PDS, Ron was the Athletic Director and Head Boys Basketball Coach at Davidson Day School in Davidson, NC. It was his second stint at Davidson Day, as he was the Dean of Students and Head Boys Varsity Basketball Coach there from 2009-2012. In 2019-20, Ron led the Patriots to the NCISAA Class 2A State Championship completing the season with a 30-1 record. In his six years at Davidson Day, Ron’s teams finished with an overall record of 146-30.

    Ron spent five years as the Dean of Students, Athletic Director and Head Boys Basketball Coach at The Burlington School in Burlington, NC. Ron’s organized and detailed approach helped to revitalize the entire athletics program at TBS. Under his guidance, TBS Athletics consistently finished in the top 10 in the NCISAA Wells Fargo Cup race for the top overall athletic program each year. As a coach at TBS, Ron’s 2016-17 boys basketball team captured the NCISAA Class 1A State Championship with a 31-0 record. It was his second State Championship at TBS, as he led the Spartans to the 2014-15 State Championship with a record of 31-1. Ron had a five-year record of 141-11 at TBS.

    From 2004-08, Ron was the Athletic Director and Head Boys Basketball Coach at Cannon School in Concord, N.C. At Cannon, he led the Cougars to an overall record of 98-27, won three consecutive conference titles, advanced to three State Final Fours, and captured the 2006 NCISAA Class 2A State Championship.

    Ron has held the position of Head Boys Basketball Coach at two high schools in Florida: Central Catholic High School in Melbourne (1994-97) and The Benjamin School in North Palm Beach (1998-2003). While at Benjamin, he was named Palm Beach County Coach of the Year three times, and was named State of Florida Coach of the Year in 2001 when his Benjamin team captured the State of Florida Class 2A State title. Overall, Ron has compiled a record of 598-177 in twenty-six years as a Head Basketball Coach. In addition, Ron has helped many of his players move on to compete at the collegiate level (Division I, II, and III).

    Ron has also coached at the collegiate level. Holding positions at Barry University (1989-90), Binghamton University (1996-97), University of Georgia (2008-09), and Marist College (2012-13).

    Ron earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Sport Management (minor in Business) from Barry University in Miami, Fla., in 1989.

    Jennifer Martinez
    Chicago Bulls

    Jennifer Martinez is a 5th grade dual language teacher and the girls’ head basketball coach for both the 5/6th and 7/8th grade teams at Inter American Magnet School in Chicago, Illinois. Basketball has always been a passion of hers having seen both her mother and father play throughout her childhood. As a result, she quickly developed a love for the game. Coaching has provided her with a unique avenue to channel her passions and share it with her student athletes. She believes that sports offer incredible opportunities for her students not only promoting physical health but also fostering invaluable life skills and experiences.

    Deyki Nichols
    Chicago Sky

    Deyki Nichols works at Sumner Math and Science Community Academy located on the Westside of Chicago. She is an Alumni of Sumner C/O 1996 and has been employed there since November 2006. She is currently the Dean of Students but has held numerous positions from teacher to security. Nichols has coached co-ed flag football, cross country, track and field, and boys softball but her main sport of expertise is basketball. She is a Graduate of Manley Career Academy C/O 2000 where she played basketball, football, and volleyball. She also attended Central State University on a partial scholarship and graduated from Mississippi Valley State University MVSU in 2007. For the past 18 years, she has accumulated an estimate record of 190-60 (give or take), while mentoring hundreds if not thousands of boys and girls on how to be positive, productive citizens.

    Katiana Smith
    Cleveland Cavaliers

    Katiana Smith is a Cleveland, OH native and Head Assistant Coach at Laurel school. coming off a state championship appearance in 2024. She has 8+ years of Cavaliers Academy coaching and also serves as the Lead Coach for All-Girls programming.

    Meia Netter
    Dallas Wings

    Meia Netter is a highly experienced and dedicated coach with over 10 years of coaching experience. Meia played college basketball at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas (2005 -2008). During her collegiate career she was awarded State Farm All-American, National Player of the Year (2008), ASC Conference MVP, 2-time ASC Female Athlete of the year, and 2<sup>nd</sup> all-time leading scorer in HPU history. After playing collegiate ball, Meia went on to coach as a graduate assistant at Wayne State Colle in Wayne Nebraska, winning a conference championship in 2010. She then went on to be an assistant coach at Howard Payne University for 1 year, before becoming head coach for 5 years. Meia is currently the head coach at Southwest High School located in Fort Worth, TX where she has coached for the past 2 years.

    With a passion for helping students reach their full potential, Meia Netter has successfully guided numerous athletes to achieve their goals, both on and off the court. Known for her motivational approach and personalized coaching style, she excels in fostering a positive and supportive environment for her athletes to thrive. Whether its improving athletes’ performance, building confidence, or overcoming obstacles Meia Netter is dedicated to empowering her athletes to unlock their true capabilities and achieve success.

    Reta Sula
    LA Clippers

    With over a decade of coaching experience, Coach Sula’s impact is profound.  As an educator and coach at Will Rogers Middle School in Long Beach, she consistently exceeds expectations for her students. Coach Sula nurtures confidence in her players, imparting invaluable life lessons that extend beyond the court.

    Dana Wynne
    Las Vegas Aces

    A three-time Kodak All-American honorable mention selection, Dana Wynne helped take Seton Hall to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 1994 and 1995, including a run to the Sweet Sixteen in ’94. She went on to enjoy a successful pro career for the ABL’s Colorado Xplosion, the WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs, and overseas, and was inducted into the Seton Hall Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004. At the conclusion of her playing career, Wynne returned to school and received her master’s degree in special education from the University of Phoenix. She has served as the head basketball coach at Jerome Mack Middle School since 2015, where she has endeavored to teach not only the skills that will make her students successful on the court, but those that will allow them to lead successful lives.

    Shannon Badon
    New Orleans Pelicans

    Coach Badon (Slidell, LA) has been coaching since 1999. Currently, she is one of the only female Athletic Director’s in her area. She coaches Girls Basketball as well as track and volleyball, and believes sports and education go hand in hand.

    Jessica Hontz
    Orlando Magic

    Jessica Hontz has been teaching for 22 years, including 16 years with Pasco County Schools. She is currently an ACP Middle School Teacher at Starkey Ranch K-8. She has an undergrad from Temple University and a master’s degree in education from West Chester University in Pennsylvania. She has been married for almost 23 years and has 2 children, 1 dog, and a new kitty. She enjoys collecting vintage Pyrex bowls and propagating and caring for new houseplants.

    Desmond Garza
    Portland Trail Blazers

    Desmond Garza has been a positive influence on our young leaders in the Portland community for more reasons than one. After graduating from Grant High School, he began coaching basketball for Peninsula Elementary SUN School’s SEI SUN League basketball team and continues to make time to give back to the community and future generations in this way. He is a natural when it comes to working with kids and has been a positive role model for our students in his dependability and charismatic personality. He encourages personal growth and for his players to support each other on and off the court. In addition to coaching basketball, Desmond has also been involved in NE STEAM Coalition’s outreach program as a Robotics instructor with whom the Peninsula SUN Program partners with. Students of all backgrounds loved the opportunity to work with Desmond both on the court and in the classroom. When it comes to his coaching methods and how he approaches his players, Desmond says, “you don’t have to be the best player on the court – all I ask is that you show that you want to learn and give effort.” Kids, staff, and the community can all agree that Desmond has been a great asset to the Peninsula Elementary SUN School Program.

    Noah Phillips
    San Antonio & Austin Spurs

    Coach Noah Phillips is a celebrated leader who has had a deep positive impact on the youth for the past five (5) years as he has led the basketball and athletics program at Grace Christian School. He believes in shaping character and fostering a sense of community through sports and is a trusted supporter and mentor who inspires responsible, caring, and community-minded young individuals. With his dedication to unlocking the potential of every student, he is recognized as a true champion of youth development, emphasizing respect, personal growth, and teamwork both on and off the basketball court. His kindness, professionalism, and heart of gold make him a role model for young athletes, showcasing the qualities of a remarkable coach who inspires and leads the next generation.

    Chris Smith
    Utah Jazz

    Coach Smith is entering his 23rd year coaching high school girls’ basketball, and his 12th year as the Varsity Head Coach. Coach Smith graduated from Northridge in 2002 where he lettered in Baseball, Basketball, Football and Track. He was part of the back-to-back state championship football team in 2001 and 2002. Coach Smith credits his passion for coaching to his father, Joseph Smith Jr., who coached him in both basketball and baseball up until Jr. High. Coach Smith enjoys spending time with family, attending church, exercising, and doing whatever he can to make a positive impact in the lives of others. Coach Smith attended Weber State University where played Baseball for 3 years and was a team captain the latter 2 years. He was part of the NCBA World Series Championship Team in 2003. He later graduated with a Bachelor’s degree at Weber State University and currently resides in South Weber, UT with his beautiful wife Roxann and 5 children Joseph Christopher “JC”, Gabriella, Londyn, Ellie and Gracelyn.


  • 2023 Jr. NBA Coach of the Year Finalists

    Congratulations to the 2023 Jr. NBA Coach of the Year Finalists for their continued commitment to support and develop youth athletes goals both on and off the court. We will be announcing the 2024 Finalists on June 10!

  • Executive Voting Panel

    Our Executive Voting Panel is comprised of various individuals from the Jr. NBA Leadership Council, NBA league office, and Positive Coaching Alliance. This panel is tasked with providing guidance on the selection of our Coach of the Year finalists and national winner based on their respective basketball knowledge and experience.


    Carrie Barren

    A former D1 gager, Coach Berran has exceled the past decade as a youth basketball coach and administrator in the Eagan (MN) Athletic Association (EAA). She serves the association President managing all in-house and traveling basketball programs for over 1,000 athletes. Coach Berran’s true philosophy includes, that by being on a team you learn not only the sport, but more importantly life skills that you can carry with you forever. Her success is seen through her on court success, and her off-court positive impact is realized through each of her players’ lives. Carrie was nominated by the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 2017 Coach of the Year and won the National Jr. NBA Coach of the Year.

    Kash Cannon

    Growing up in inner city Providence, Kash Cannon used the game of basketball to overcome personal adversity and become the first person in her family to go to college. After a standout career at Northeastern University, Kash chose to pay-it-forward and give back to other girls from her community by providing them the same opportunities she was given through the power of sport. As the Program Director at G3 (Getting Girls in the Game), Kash delivers a youth basketball curriculum that focuses on health and wellness, goal setting and female empowerment. Kash’s program includes a mentoring partnership with female Boston Police officers, college readiness activities, hands-on cooking classes, tutoring from local college athletes and access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Open to all Boston inner city girls, Kash also builds relationships with the mothers of her girls, leveraging the whole family unit when trying to increase healthy outcomes. Kash was nominated by the Boston Celtics for the 2018 Coach of the Year and won the National Jr. NBA Coach of the Year.

    Jason Collins

    Jason Collins is a Stanford University graduate and 13-year veteran of the NBA who played for New Jersey, Memphis, Minnesota, Atlanta, Boston, Washington, and Brooklyn and who went to two NBA Finals. Off the court, he was inducted into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame and serves as an NBA Cares Ambassador, furthering the league’s efforts to address social issues. Collins made history after the 2012-13 season, becoming the first active male athlete from one of the four major North American professional team sports to come out as gay.

    Keela Dorue

    Coach Keela Doerue is a 7th-grade math teacher who spends her spare time coaching and running an organization made up of 10 teams and growing. This organization, Phoenix Basketball, has the vision to spread the love of basketball and have children progress in skill and gain knowledge of the game while building relationships and families off the court.

    Jason Curry

    Jason is in his 20th year as president of Big Apple Basketball (BAB). He’s responsible for all aspects of its daily operations, including running its basketball training, high school showcases, scholarship games, mentoring programs, academic seminars, consultation and referral services, along with other community events focused on helping student-athletes and families. Jason graduated from St. Michael’s College with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. He was a four-year starter on the men’s basketball team and inducted into the St. Michael’s College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009. Last spring, he was inducted into the Cheshire Academy Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2019, Curry was recognized as the Junior Knicks Coach of the Year, and named the National Jr. NBA Coach of the Year.

    Taylor Jenkins

    Taylor Jenkins is the Head Coach of the Memphis Grizzlies. Prior to his time in Memphis, Coach Jenkins was an Assistant Coach for the Milwaukee Bucks (2018-2019) and Atlanta Hawks (2013-2018). Coach Jenkins helped the Bucks to a 60-22 regular season record and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals and helped lead the Hawks to four NBA Playoffs and an Eastern Conference Finals appearance (2014-2015). Prior to becoming an Assistant Coach in the NBA, Coach Jenkins was the Head Coach of the Austin Toros in the NBA D-League for the 2012-2013 season. As the Head Coach, Jenkins led the Toros to the NBA D-League Playoffs. Coach Jenkins was also an Assistant Coach for the Austin Toros (2008-2012). Taylor Jenkins was born in Dallas, Texas and attended St. Mark’s School of Texas and later attended the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Jenkins graduated, earning a Bachelor of Science in Economics while concentrating in Management and minoring in Psychology. Coach Jenkins and his wife, Chantall, have four children.

    Taj McWilliams-Franklin

    Taj McWilliams-Franklin is a former American professional women’s basketball player. A two-time WNBA champion with the Detroit Shock and Minnesota Lynx and six-time all-star, McWilliams-Franklin’s professional career has spanned three decades, and began before the WNBA was founded. She retired from the WNBA after the 2012 season and is now the Player Relations and Development Manager at the WNBA.

    Jason Sacks

    Jason Sacks is PCA’s Chief Development Officer, co-leading the organization and overseeing all fundraising activities, as well as PCA’s partnerships with professional sports leagues, national governing bodies and national youth sports organizations. Prior to joining PCA, Jason worked in the Basketball Operations Department for the New York Knicks during the 2005-06 season. He served as an assistant coach for the Men’s Basketball Team at New York University, while completing his Masters Degree in Sports Management. His other previous coaching stops include Egg Harbor Township High School (NJ) and Perspectives Charter High School (Chicago). With an undergraduate degree from Syracuse University, Jason now serves as an adjunct instructor for Northwestern University’s Masters of Sports Administration Program.

    Christina Wellendorf

    Coach Christina Wellendorf is an English teacher by day, basketball coach by afternoon and evening, and master’s counseling student at night at John C. Fremont PDMS & Academy of Medical Sciences. She has coached for six years and taught for nine years. She is a mentor to her peers and current and former students and players, assisting them with filling out applications, writing letters to colleges, and supporting families during loss the loss of a loved one with food.