The Jr. NBA Coach of the Year award is given to a youth basketball coach nominated by an NBA, WNBA, or G League team who is making a positive impact on youth by demonstrating outstanding integrity, character and leadership.
The Jr. NBA and Positive Coaching Alliance are proud to announce the 8 semifinalists for the 2021 national Coach of the Year award, due to their outstanding integrity, character, and leadership. For more information about each of the Jr. NBA Coach of the Year semifinalists, check out the semifinalist tab!
These semifinalists were selected because they have not only been successful in bettering their athletes on the court but have also shown that their main focus was to make these athletes better people in their communities. These coaches have established and fostered meaningful relationships with their athletes and their families over the years and have incorporated valuable life lessons into every aspect of basketball they coach.
The top three finalists and national winner will be announced shortly. Stay tuned for the announcements on @JrNBA social handles!
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 2020-21. These outstanding coaches are in consideration for the 2021 Jr. NBA Coach of the Year award. The semifinalists will be announced on July 12, 2021.
Darene Thomas was born in Blackville, South Carolina and graduated from Wingate University in Wingate, North Carolina. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Parks and Recreation and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Education at the Univ. of Phoenix. Darene received a full basketball scholarship for her outstanding athletic skills. After graduating from college, she traveled to Europe and played professional basketball in Italy, Greece, and Hungary for the next eight years. Upon her return, she began working for the Gwinnett County School District as an educator. Ms. Thomas adamantly believes that “No child should be left behind,” regardless of one’s ethnicity, race, creed, gender or color. She believes that children are in control of their own destiny! Darene’s major goal is to mentor, guide by leadership, the students she serves down a successful path. Ms. Darene Thomas is the founder and owner of the “Fundamental Basketball Academy.” She runs her academy throughout the Metro-Atlanta area/Gwinnett area. Ms. Thomas has helped unsigned clients obtain basketball scholarships to universities and colleges throughout the United States.”
Jason was introduced to wheelchair basketball in 2011 when his son, Josh, who was born with spina bifida, began playing for the BlazeSports Junior Wheelchair Hawks prep team. Jason began as a parent volunteer and by the end of the season was asked to become an assistant coach. During the next two seasons, Jason served as an assistant coach as the team improved from a 14th place finish in the 2014 National Championship tournament to an 8th place finish in 2015. During that time, Jason witnessed the impact wheelchair basketball had on the lives of adolescents with physical disabilities and relished his role in the players’ lives. At the end of the 2015 season, Jason was asked to assume duties as a co-head coach of the Varsity team. The 2015-2016 season saw BlazeSports finish 3rd in the National Championship tournament. The next season, Joshua’s senior year, the team made it to the National Championship game and placed 2nd in the country. While Josh moved on to play wheelchair basketball for the University of Illinois, Jason could not give up working with disabled athletes. By the beginning of the 2019 season, the BlazeSports varsity program had grown to field two teams in the Varsity division – one to compete for a national championship and one to serve as a development team. Jason served as the head coach for the developmental team where his team, BlazeSports White, qualified for the National Invitational tournament. At the end of the season, Jason received the National Wheelchair Basketball Association David Ruback Legacy Award due to his “unselfish time, energy, passion and concern for our youth and the sport of wheelchair basketball that soar above and beyond the norm.” Jason lives in Kennesaw, GA, with his wife Angie and daughter Elizabeth. He works for UPS at their Corporate Office where he is a lead facilitator in the Global Leadership College, teaching leadership skills.
Armando Ortiz is a Jr. Celtics youth basketball coach from the YMCA of Greater Boston. As a single father, Armando understands the valuable role sports can play in the healthy development of children. An expert in using basketball to fulfill the needs of youth in his community, Armando has a dynamic coaching style that allows him to seamlessly support the individual strengths and weakness of each player, even in a team setting. When the pandemic hit, Armando joined the YMCAs hunger prevention program, packaging and delivering thousands of meals to community members, including the families of his players. Armando has also committed himself to supporting girls basketball by providing incentives for participation and hiring a robust team of female coaches. Whether he’s teaching parents drills to support their child’s development at home or spending time in practice talking with players about the daily challenges they are facing, Armando consistently goes above and beyond for the youth basketball community in Boston.
Sarah attended Yeshivah of Flatbush. When she graduated high school, she realized that the girls in her community needed to start playing basketball at a younger age and that’s when she created the “Little Ballers” program. She returned to Yeshivah of Flatbush to coach five girls basketball teams. She has taught over 500 athletes starting from the ages of 3 years old. She also runs basketball leagues for high school girls and another league for college girls and older women. Lastly, she trains privately with youth.
Andre Lodree Jr. was born & raised in Chicago with his home life centered on family and his faith in God. Early on, it was evident he developed two interests – basketball and education. He focused on his academic studies while learning and perfecting the sport of basketball. He excelled in his education and graduated from North Shore Country Day School, Triton College with an Associate of Arts in Education, and Dominican University with a Bachelor of Arts in Theology. His basketball playing career includes high school varsity at North Shore, college basketball at Triton College that finished 8th nationally among junior colleges, and semi-professional with the Chicago Steam. After an extensive basketball career, he desired to give back to his community and the sport and transitioned his gifts and talents to nonprofit work and coaching. In 2013, he co-founded a nonprofit organization, Four Point Play, Inc., that focuses on fortifying the individual’s mind, body and spirit through sports. In 2018, he became the Junior Varsity Boys’ Head Coach for Walther Christian Academy, and in 2020 he transitioned to the Varsity Boys’ Head Coach. He joined the Chicago Bulls staff in 2019 as a Youth Hoops Coach and Brand Ambassador. He is married with four children and believes that leading by example is the key to success at home, on the basketball court, and in life.
“Hannah Bartlome is the Youth & Family Director at French Creek YMCA, a branch of the Greater Cleveland YMCA. Hannah coaches & oversees all operations for Jr. Cavs Youth Basketball Leagues. In addition. Hannah is the Head Girls Soccer Coach and Track & Field Assistant Coach at her alma mater, Vermilion High School.
Paul Cazalas has spent the past 5 years coaching youth basketball in the Dallas metroplex. Paul grew up in a basketball family in Corpus Christi, Texas. With three older brothers, Paul remembers having a basketball in his hand from the time he could walk. He played competitively through high school as the only 3-year letterman at King H.S. earning All South Texas Honors 3 year in a row from 1996-1998. Paul briefly played collegiate football at Angelo State University before transferring and receiving his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M in College Station. But Paul’s love, has always been basketball which he continued playing intramurals and in various men’s leagues upon moving to Dallas after graduating. Prior to coaching youth teams, Paul’s only previous coaching experience was spent as a college student coaching summer basketball camps at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio and South Texas All-Star Basketball Camps in Corpus Christi. Paul knew at a very young age that he loved basketball and wanted to share his passion for the game with others. Upon accepting the role of Coach for his Pre-K son’s team, Paul quickly realized that interest from other boys his son’s age was much more than anticipated. He ultimately coached 2 teams made up of 18 boys for 4 consecutive years to ensure every boy at his son’s school had an opportunity to play (PreK- 2nd grade). His goal has always been to share his love for the game, and to bring the “fun” into learning the fundamentals. Paul brings the same passion to his daughter’s 1st grade team and tries to cultivate an environment enriched in hard work while having fun. Paul’s motto which he preaches to all his players is: “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”. He believes the lessons learned from playing team basketball are invaluable, and he constantly preaches the concept of “team” and “together”. While not volunteering as a youth coach, Paul’s full-time job is spent as a residential loan officer in the DFW market for the past 18 years. Paul was recently named a Top 400 Mortgage Producer in America by National Mortgage News. He’s involved at his church in east Dallas working with adults who struggle with their Christian faith. Perhaps Paul’s greatest achievement off the court is his role as a “Big” in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. Paul has mentored his “Little”, ZyQuaylon for 11 years. ZyQuaylon happens to be a standout basketball player and is on track to graduate from high school next year with hopes of playing in college. Paul has been married to his beautiful wife, Erin, for 15 years and they have 2 children, Corbin (9) and Millie (6). His entire family are avid Dallas Mavericks fans and they watch as many games together as possible. While Paul hopes to give back to his community through volunteering as a youth coach, he’ll be the first to admit that he probably receives more joy out of it than his players. He’ll continue to coach as long as he’s able and share his love for the game with as many young athletes as possible.
Chris has coached both of his son’s basketball teams and is a Colorado native. He became a fan of the game because basketball was always there as an option year-round a kid. It is easy to pick up a basketball and go play at a park, basketball is for everyone! Now coaching for about 9 years, Chris takes pride in watching his team’s growth on and off the floor. He loves what he does because he gets to teach the game of basketball, help his kids have fun, and teach them how to achieve their goals. “I love the game and I love having the opportunity to share my knowledge of the game with the youth.”
Tony has spent his entire adult life utilizing the game of basketball as a tool to positively mentor hundreds of young boys and girls throughout the state of Michigan. He is the Director of the Oakland County Sherriff PAL Basketball Academy as well as a contractor for the City of Pontiac Parks and Recreation Division. He also established Tony Howard’s Basketball and Education Academy which provides outlets and resources for boys and girls ages 6-16 to reach their ceiling both on and off the basketball court. The program’s motto is, “Become the CHAMPION God made YOU to be!”
Coach Bhree was born and raised in San Francisco, CA and has been surrounded by the game all her life. She spent most of her youth playing basketball and has continued to devote her life to athletes of all ages. She started coaching as an assistant coach at her high school. Within the 2 years of coaching the girls varsity team, she instilled the importance of work ethic, leadership and confidence on the court that she hoped would translate to behavior off the court. She then became a Sports Medicine Assistant to help athletes of all ages make a physical and mental recovery from sports injuries while also acting as an Assistant Athletic Trainer on game days for Contra Costa College. In 2019, Coach Bhree decided to become a Warriors Basketball Camp Coach. She wanted to remind the younger athletes that sports should be fun while also teaching them important life lessons within the game. She currently is a part of the Warriors Basketball Academy team where she is coaching kids on the Shoot 360 technology and various on-court activities. Coach Bhree has dedicated her life to leaving a lasting impact on the youth, no matter how big or small, and understands the importance of a coach not only on the court but off the court.
A camper favorite, Coach Natalie, or “Coach Nat,” joined our team in 2019, but she has been coaching basketball as a player development specialist, club coach, and high school coach since 2015. When asked about her favorite part of coaching, Coach Nat said, “Coaching in underserved communities gives me the greatest feeling because I’m providing an experience that I believe every kid, regardless of means, deserves to have.” Currently, Nat works full-time for Peace Players LA as a program coordinator, serving youth in the Watts neighborhood. She also coaches at both LA Valley College and Calabasas High School.
Jimmy Missouri is a native of Lakeland, Fl. He attended Kathleen High School where he lettered in football and basketball, graduating in 2004. Jimmy received his degree in marketing from the University of South Florida (Tampa, Fl) in 2008. Jimmy went on to complete his master’s degree in Sport Leadership and Coaching from the University of Central Florida (Orlando, Fl) in 2013. After college, Jimmy spent 3 years working in Publix Warehouse where he learned how to apply hard work and dedication on a daily basis. In 2012, Jimmy took his talents and work ethic to the Orlando Magic and eventually the Lakeland Magic, where he took pride in being a part of history in a major way by helping bring an NBA G League team to his community. During his time with the Magic, Jimmy earned 3 sales awards and 2 community awards for committing the most hours to the community throughout the organization. During Jimmy’s time with the Orlando and Lakeland, he devoted the majority of his spare time coaching and mentoring kids from many walks of life to show them a greater way. Jimmy is the son of Jimmy and the late Evelyn Missouri.
Anjelica was born with a basketball in her hand. She has played basketball from the moment she could walk throughout her college career, and now plays in the Women’s Basketball league in Las Vegas. She has always loved helping others as she is a full-time registered nurse. She was not content just nursing patients back to life but needed to revive the lack of girls’ basketball in the city of Las Vegas. She plans to one day have a Girls Youth Basketball organization in every city across America.
Coach Ryan Imparato is one of the lead basketball clinicians for both the Long Island Nets youth basketball program and the Brooklyn Nets Basketball Academy. This past year, Ryan was extremely active during the pandemic in helping kids stay in shape both physically and mentally in a time they needed it most. While leading close to 50 virtual basketball clinics, Ryan helped launch the Brooklyn Nets Academy social media pages, which provided players workouts, tips and drills to help grow their game in the comfort of their own home.
Coach Evans serves as the Athletic Director and PE Coach at Skirball Middle School in Watts, CA. Growing up, sports were a big part of his life, gaining a scholarship to play college football. His dream was to become the next Emmitt Smith, but after an injury, his bright future came to a sudden end of an early retirement. Still having a passion for sports, Mr. Evans started working for the Junior Lakers youth basketball program at the YMCA in Santa Clarita, CA. He later became a substitute referee, and then one of the top AAU female youth basketball coaches in the area, with the team he created – The SCV Hotshots. Realizing that his new passion was working to bring up youth in the community, he gained his Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, with an emphasis of Pedagogy from CSUN. While student-teaching for a year and a half, he realized the need for mentoring youth to better them physically and mentally. Following his student-teaching experience, Mr. Evans was offered a full-time teaching job at the newly remodel middle school, La Alliance Jack H Skirball, in the middle of Watts. Thirteen years later, Mr. Evans has been a part of several memorable moments by winning championship in 3 different sports, introducing and creating the Spartan EOY Banquet, revamping the PE program that prepares students to be both physically and mentally an advocate of life-long health living.
Chris Rodgers is a committed mentor and trainer that understands the core values that athletes develop from playing sport. Chris hails from the Philadelphia area. After a successful 4-year college career at Bucknell University, Chris continued his basketball career in Europe; playing professionally in the German Bundesliga. While playing overseas, he developed a love for coaching and became the head coach and program director for a 14u team. He led the team to back-to-back German championships. Once he finished playing, Chris returned to the US and settled in Los Angeles. He started training high school and college athletes. With over 15 years of coaching experience, Chris continues to train local youth as well as coach varsity basketball. He developed numerous athletes who currently play college basketball. As a player, he possessed a competitive attitude with a desire to succeed which he now passes on to his players. He believes in motivating players to achieve heights they never thought possible by helping them break through their mental limitations.
Following a stellar high school career in which she earned multiple national honors, Mariah Chandler won an NCAA championship as a member of the Baylor University Lady Bears. After college, she interned and coached collegiately and from a youth basketball perspective, coached high school and AAU while also training boys and girls at The Skills Factory – a founding member of the Jr. NBA Flagship Network. In addition to volunteering with various causes, she has also done basketball-based mission work in countries such Brazil, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. Currently, Mariah serves as a Basketball Operations Assistant for the Memphis Grizzlies, a role in which she contributes to the team’s on-court success by preparing game film for assigned players such as Jaren Jackson Jr., who was just recently named co-chair of the new Jr. NBA Court of Leaders. Beyond her official job duties, she also volunteers with Grizzlies Youth Basketball, serving as a lead clinician at functions such as a Her Time To Play event featuring then-assistant coach Niele Ivey. Since the onset of the pandemic, Mariah has also been a key contributor to the team’s virtual content efforts including Jr. NBA at Home, summertime virtual workouts, and a tutorial series.
Coach Gale Nelson, II has graduated in December 2020 Graduate with a degree in Sports Marketing Event Management from Johnson & Wales University. The team he coaches, Somerset Academy Pembroke Pines Middle School basketball team, finished 10-3 in January 2020. To cap off this amazing season, The Panthers won the Middle School League Championship led by coach Gale Nelson, II. The Panthers shot 40% behind the arc, 60% in the paint, and 85% from the free throw line.Coach Nelson also currently serves as a mentor (“Big Brother”) with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami. He is active with the Young Adult Ministry at the Miami Gardens church of Christ. His previous experiences include serving as Lead Camp Counselor at Thunder Athletics where “Hustle, Heart, and Hardwork” was instilled in youth on a daily basis. This coach continues a legacy of leadership. Having played for Somerset, and then giving back to the younger players is what growth and development is all about. Coaching at his alma mater, mentoring in the inner city of Miami, serving as a leader at a local church, are just a few reasons why Coach Nelson is worthy of this honor.
Growing up fast on the playgrounds of New York City, Clarence Leggett quickly developed an appreciation for the benefits provided to him through a combination of academics and skills on the basketball court. In 1990, following a successful collegiate career and time spent traveling the world with the Harlem Wizards; Clarence, “Mugsy” as he’s better known in the community, began to act on his desires to make a positive impact on the children of New York City. He wanted to give back and help children that were growing up in low-income areas accomplish their goals and dreams just like he was able to. Mugsy knew the importance of developing basic basketball skills and that it was important to build self-esteem among young people he saw each day in schools and at the local playgrounds. He started a basketball recreation program in the Bronx with only volunteers and his family members. Local boys and girls quickly embraced the program and the “Wiz Kids” began expanding to various gymnasiums and outside courts throughout the Bronx. In 2001, the program found a home in the Northeast part of the Bronx. Mugsy currently serves as the Executive Director of the Wiz Kids program, as well as, the Director of the SCAN Afterschool Program.
Eron Gay has been a YMCA Thunder Basketball League Coach for the last 4 years. Coming from a Coaching Family, sharing values and developing players is important to Eron. From practices, to games and to special events, he provides full devotion to his players. Eron was selected as the 2020-21 YMCA Thunder Basketball League Coach of the Year and the 2020 YMCA OKC Northwest District Coach of the Year.
Coach Kellie Wilson coaches in North Philadelphia for the Philly Team Wolfpack & Playworks. She coaches boys ages 11 and up w/ Team Wolfpack and Girls ages 9 & 10 w/ Playworks. SHe has been a youth basketball coach for the past 6 years.
Lauren Haggar is a Nursing Student as well as a youth basketball coach for 5/6 grade at the Desert Foothills YMCA.
Coach Cannon’s passion for basketball and dedication to serve the youth in underserved communities for the past 6 years has been a beautiful asset to the Chris-Town YMCA. He ensures all kids on his teams get equal playing time on the court even when they are newer to the team and could cost the game. Coach Cannon truly cares about the development of a child’s skills and learning to work as a team more than winning. With each game, we recite our sports pledge which includes being respectful to our coaches. Every game played, Cannon’s players are the ones asking to lead the pledge.
Nathen Garth was born October 22, 1989 in Sacramento, CA. I am the son of Lisa Stevenson and Anthony Garth. I played college basketball at University of New Mexico and UC Santa Barbara where I majored in Anthropology and graduated in 2013. My hobbies include cutting hair, shopping, fashion, and sneakers. Chris Paul is my favorite NBA player and someone I patterned my own game off of. My favorite PRO sport teams are the Sacramento Kings and Oakland Raiders. I am a father of a three-year-old daughter and a future husband as well!
Coach Scott Trinquier has over 14 years of coaching and player development experience and played 4 years professionally in Europe and Asia. Coach Trinquier has coached and trained student-athletes from middle school to college and even some professional players and is currently the Director of Player Development with Nike ProSkills San Antonio. On the court, Coach Trinquier has a very strong influence on team ball and making the extra pass. Coach fully incorporates that “together” aspect and demonstrates that heavily as the leader on the court. Off the court, Coach continually set the example of being the leader while at community service outings, such as working at food banks in the local area, Habitat for Humanity, etc. Coach actively volunteers at school career days throughout the community and with the Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students) mentor programs. His organization even created a mentorship program for younger kids who want to play basketball. Coach Trinquier is dedicated to enriching players’ growth both mentally and physically. During COVID, the ball didn’t stop for Coach. He provided player and mental development training virtually until they could get back to in-person events and continues to engage with his players with check-ins on their grades and character building throughout the week.
Bill Maxwell has been coaching youth basketball in Parkston, South Dakota for the past 10 years. He now runs the Parkston Trojans Jr. NBA program for 3-6th grade boys and girls, focusing primarily on coaching at the 6th grade boys level each year. However, Maxwell works constantly with other parents and volunteers to organize coaching responsibilities for the other seven teams under his watch and can be seen coaching any of the other teams as needed throughout each year. Maxwell loves the game of basketball and loves the kids and families he gets to know as they come through his program. For Maxwell, though, it’s about more than just a love for the game. It’s about continuing a legacy. Maxwell is carrying on the traditions and standards set forth by his late father, who ran the program for nearly 25 years. Maxwell’s program today is still similar in many ways to what his father had built over the years. “I firmly believe that any time a person gets the chance to walk onto the basketball court and play basketball, they have truly been blessed,” said Maxwell. “Basketball is such a fun and social game, yet unforgiving and cruel at times. Almost every player will experience the highs and lows of playing the game, and I find that experience to be priceless, because it teaches the kids about the ups and downs of life and how to be a good sport.”
McKade currently works as a CAD draftsman for the top structural engineering firm in the region and uses his free time to coach and volunteer. In 2013 McKade married into an instant family with his wife and eldest son. As of today, McKade and his wife have had two more little humans, making their kids 13, 4 and 2. McKade has grown his love of coaching from his years of playing sports, such as baseball, golf and basketball, along with the desire for his own children to learn quality fundamentals of sports and learning how to love the game. He continuously gives his time to sports organizations in his community to help other kids to also have quality learning opportunities and opportunities to learn to love the game.
The Jr. Wizards Coach of the Year award is given each year to a youth basketball coach who has made a positive impact on youth by demonstrating outstanding integrity, character and leadership. Nobody fit this definition as well as Coach Terrance Burke of Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, MD. Coach Burke was an inspirational figure both on and off the court. When he passed away early in the pandemic it shocked the DMV basketball community – but his legacy lives on in the life lessons he passed on to his players and students.
- 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.
Jennifer Azzi is a former basketball coach of the women’s team at the University of San Francisco. She played four years at Stanford University, started her professional career on the San Jose Lasers of the ABL, and went on to play in the WNBA for the Detroit Shock and Utah Starz, now the San Antonio Stars. Azzi is also an Olympic and FIBA world champion. After retiring, Azzi served on the Board of Directors of USA Basketball and was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. In 2016, Azzi publicly came out as gay, announcing her marriage to USF assistant Blair Hardiek at the Anti-Defamation League’s Torch of Liberty Award ceremony.
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.J.B. Bickerstaff is the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Bickerstaff originally joined the Cavaliers as the team’s associate head coach prior to the 2019-20 season. Before coming to Cleveland, he was the Memphis Grizzlies head coach for the 2018-19 season, following serving as the interim head coach for the final 63 games of the 2017-18 Grizzlies campaign. Prior to his stint with Memphis, Bickerstaff spent five seasons (2011-16) with the Houston Rockets, where he was elevated to interim head coach early in the 2015-16 season and guided the Rockets to a 37-34 finish to close the season with a postseason berth. Bickerstaff’s additional experience as an assistant coach includes four seasons (2007-11) with the Minnesota Timberwolves and three seasons (2004-07) with the Charlotte Bobcats under his father, Bernie Bickerstaff. The youngest assistant coach in the NBA at age 24 when he began with the Bobcats in 2004-05, Bickerstaff followed in the footsteps of his father, who was the youngest assistant coach when he joined the NBA at 29 years old in 1973. Prior to his time on the NBA sidelines, Bickerstaff served as director of operations for the University of Minnesota’s men’s basketball program. Bickerstaff played two seasons (1999-2001) with the Golden Gophers to complete his collegiate career after playing his first two years at Oregon State University, where he was the youngest Division I player as a 17-year-old freshman. Bickerstaff and his wife Nikki have three children: Blair, Blakely and Blade.
ESPN named Doris Burke a full-time ESPN NBA game analyst just ahead of the 2017-18 NBA season. Across nearly three decades, she has been a top commentator on several significant ESPN properties, including the NBA, women’s and men’s college basketball and the WNBA. She also serves as the lead ESPN NBA sideline reporter for NBA playoff games and the <em>NBA Finals </em>on ABC. Burke has covered basketball for ESPN since 1991 and has been the recipient of several awards and honors, including a recipient of the 2017 WISE Women of the Year award. Burke previously served as a WNBA analyst for the New York Liberty on MSG Network, a women’s college basketball analyst on CBS Sports and New England Sports Network (NESN), an analyst on regional coverage of BIG EAST and Atlantic-10 women’s basketball, and a radio play-by-play commentator for Providence College men’s and women’s basketball. A former basketball standout at Providence College who held seven records upon graduation, Burke served as an assistant coach for her Alma mater for two years. She was later inducted into the Providence College Hall of Fame and received an honorary doctorate from the school in 2005. Raised in Manasquan, N.J., Burke graduated from Providence College with a degree in health service administration/social work and also earned her master’s in education at Providence.
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.
Rick Carlisle is the President of the NBA Coaches Association. Carlisle is one of eleven individuals to have won an NBA Championship as both a player (Boston Celtics- 1986) and a Head Coach. Carlisle got his first Head Coaching job in the NBA with the Detroit Pistons in 2001, where he eventually went on to win Coach of The Year honors in 2002. In 2003, Carlisle was hired as the Head Coach of the Indiana Pacers, where he spent four seasons. In 2007, Carlisle resigned as Head Coach and Executive Vice-President of the Indiana Pacers and began working as a studio analyst for ESPN. In 2008 Carlisle was hired as Head Coach of the Dallas Mavericks, where he eventually went on to win the NBA Championship in 2011 over the Miami Heat. In November of 2015, Carlisle became the winningest Coach in Dallas Mavericks history and in December of 2017, Carlisle recorded his 700th win against the Los Angeles Clippers, becoming the 18th coach in NBA history to reach the milestone. He now joins San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich and Los Angeles Clippers’ Doc Rivers as the only active coaches to reach 700 wins. Carlisle is on pace to pass John MacLeod (707 wins) at 17th place for all time wins as a coach. In 2021, Rick Carlisle was hired as the Head Coach of the Indiana Pacers.
Rick, and his wife, Donna, have a daughter, Abby. Carlisle enjoys golf, piano and spending time with family, which includes two dogs, Moe Norman and Zoe.
Tamika Catchings is a retired WNBA player who played her entire 15-year career for the Indiana Fever. Catchings has won a WNBA championship, WNBA Most Valuable Player Award, WNBA Finals MVP Award, five WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Awards, four Olympic gold medals, and the WNBA Rookie of the Year Award. She has also been selected to ten WNBA All-Star teams, 12 All-WNBA teams, 12 All-Defensive teams and led the league in steals eight times. She is one of 9 women to win an Olympic Gold Medal, an NCAA Championship, and a WNBA Championship. In 2011, Catchings was voted in by fans as one of the WNBA’s Top 15 Players of All Time. In 2004, Catchings founded the Catch the Stars Foundation, a charitable organization that provides basketball camps, fitness clinics, mentoring and literacy programs for underprivileged children to help them become successful in sports and academics. In April 2017, Catchings was named Director of Player Programs and Franchise Development for Pacers Sports & Entertainment.
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.
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 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.
Ernie Johnson, known as “E.J.”, graduated from University of Georgia with a B.A. in journalism and has since worked as a play-by-play announcer and studio host across numerous sports including basketball, baseball, golf, and football. Johnson is currently a sportscaster for Turner Sports and CBS Sports. He works as the studio host for TNT’s coverage of the NBA, including pregame and halftime shows, and the network’s famous postgame studio show that airs after each NBA doubleheader, Inside the NBA, which he has hosted since 1990.
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.
E.M. ‘Kiki’ VanDeWeghe III, the NBA’s Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations, joined the NBA league office in April 2013. He has been involved in a broad range of basketball matters, including the development of playing rules and interpretations, game analytics, disciplinary matters, and policies and procedures relating to the operation of NBA games. He also serves as a key liaison between the league and its teams, drawing upon his experience as a general manager, coach, and player. VanDeWeghe’s NBA playing career spanned 13 years, with Denver, Portland, New York, and LA Clippers, during which he made two All-Star appearances and helped his teams to the postseason 12 times.
- 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.
Each participating NBA, WNBA and G League team nominates a local coach, who is 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 eight (8) national semifinalists. From the round of eight, an executive panel of judges, an interview, and a public fan vote via social media determine the top three finalists and the national Jr. NBA Coach of the Year winner.
The top three finalists are each awarded with a financial grant to support their local youth basketball organizations.
- 2020 Finalists
The following coaches were named the 2020 Jr. NBA Coach of the Year Finalists:
- Coach Keela Doerue, nominated by the San Antonio and Austin Spurs
- Coach Chiene Jones, nominated by the New York Knicks
- Coach Oscar Pelt, nominated by the LA Clippers
Congratulations to Coach Keela Doerue, representing the San Antonio and Austin Spurs, who was named the 2020 Jr. NBA Coach of the Year!
The Finalists were selected by a panel of judges, including Indiana Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle, NBA legend Jason Collins and ESPN Analyst Doris Burke, along with fan voting via social media.
- 2020 Gallery
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