Nigerian Udoka will step into his first position as head coach after nine years as an assistant.
Boston Celtics coach, Ime Udoka
In his new role as the Celtics president of basketball operations, Brad Stevens on Wednesday chose Longtime NBA assistant Ime Udoka to replace him as head coach of Boston Celtics.
According to Boston Globe
, Udoka will step into his first position as head coach after nine years as an assistant. He was initially hired by the San Antonio Spurs in 2012 and spent seven years coaching under Gregg Popovich before he was poached by the Philadelphia 76ers prior to the 2019-20 season. Udoka joined Steve Nash and the Nets last offseason and helped coach Brooklyn’s star-studded squad.
Udoka, a Portland native, spent his final collegiate season at Portland State University, where he averaged 14.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. The Charleston Lowgators of the NBDL (now the G-League) selected him with the 39th pick in the NBDL draft, and Udoka was called up to play for the Lakers in 2004. The 26-year-old was waived after just four games.
After a brief stint overseas, Udoka returned to the NBDL and averaged 17.1 points per game. The Knicks inked him to a deal in 2006, but Udoka was waived once again.
This time, however, Udoka didn’t need to travel to Europe — his hometown team, the Portland Trail Blazers, signed him and he started all 75 games in 2006-07.
Udoka averaged 8.4 points per game and hit 40.6 percent of his 3-pointers that season, but the Blazers waived him in 2007 to make room for rookie Patty Mills (who, interestingly, Udoka would later help coach to a championship with the Spurs in 2014). Udoka then spent two years in San Antonio, a season in Sacramento, and another season with the Spurs before traveling to Spain where his playing career came to an end.
Udoka’s late father was born in Nigeria, which qualified Udoka for Nigerian citizenship. He played for the Nigerian men’s basketball team at the 2006 FIBA World Championships.
After leaving Portland State, Udoka created an endowment for an annual scholarship given to both a business student and a basketball player in honor of his father.
“His point of coming to America was for college,” Udoka told FIBA Basketball’s website in 2007. “He got a degree in Business Administration at Portland State, met my mother here, got married and raised his family.”