It may have taken nearly two months, but Taylor Jenkins finally has his coach staff figured out for next season. Earlier today the Grizzlies announced that Niele Ivey, Brad Jones, David McClure, James “Sconnie” Penn, Vitaly Potapenko and NEven Spahija would be the assistant coaches on Jenkins’ staff.
Niele Ivey becomes the first ever female assistant coach in franchise history, coming to Memphis after 12 seasons at Notre Dame. Ivey spent the past four years as associate head coach for her alma mater under head coach Muffet McGraw. Ivey and Notre Dame won the 2018 national championship and appeared in seven Final Four’s. Ivey also appeared in two Final Four’s as a player at Notre Dame.
Brad Jones led the G-League Memphis Hustle to their first ever postseason appearance and win last season, ultimately earning himself a promotion up to Jenkins’ staff. This isn’t Jones’ first crack at being an NBA assistant, as he was an assistant coach with the Jazz for four years.
David McClure comes to Memphis after spending the past 3 seasons in Indiana working on player development. McClure actually played for Taylor Jenkins when Jenkins was an assistant for the Austin Toros in 2009, per the Grizzlies.
“Scoonie” Penn comes to Memphis after serving as Ohio State’s director of player development. Penn is a former Buckeye point guard and figures to play a key role in the Grizzlies’ young guards development.
Vitaly Potapenko is a holdover from J.B. Bickerstaff’s staff from last season. Potapenko spent 5 seasons on the Cavaliers coaching staff before coming to Memphis last season.
Neven Spahija brings a ton of international coaching experience to Memphis. Spahija coached with Taylor Jenkins under Mike Budenholzer when they were in Atlanta. Spahija has won 6 international league championships, with the most recent one coming last season with Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Israeli League.
The Grizzlies also announced the hiring of Jason March as the new head coach of the Memphis Hustle following Brad Jones’ promotion. March, a native of Olive Branch, Mississippi, makes his return to the Grizzlies organization where he spent the nine seasons before following Dave Joerger to Sacramento in 2016.
According to Grind City Media’s Michael Wallace, Jenkins’ staff does not have a traditional hierarchy or pecking order among assistants as is the norm with most teams. Instead, it will be a “multi-faceted & cohesive approach” with the diverse background of the coaching staff.
A few thoughts on Grizz coaching staff announcement. My understanding is there's not a traditional hierarchy or pecking order among primary assistants. More a multi-faceted & cohesive approach among multiple voices with diverse backgrounds and varying strengths. https://t.co/j0ByPJ85Br— Michael Wallace (@MyMikeCheck) August 5, 2019
Outside of the clearly diverse backgrounds of all of Jenkins’ assistants, the biggest takeaway is the clear focus on player development. Jenkins’ doesn’t have anyone with prior NBA head coaching experience on his staff and instead has several of assistants who figure to have vital roles in the development of Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., Brandon Clarke and the rest of the young Grizzlies.
You can check out the Grizzlies full announcement on the hiring of Jenkins’ coaching staff here.