Eph alum to lead NBA’s Jazz

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Hardy was the lead assistant for the Boston Celtics during the recently concluded NBA season.
Photo by Jim Davis, Boston Globe staff

The Utah Jazz named Williams College alum and former Eph hoopster Will Hardy as their new head coach on Tuesday. He is the sixth Division III alum who is currently a head coach in the NBA.

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Hardy played four seasons at Williams College and was a senior on the Eph’s 2009-10 national finalist team that lost to UW-Stevens Point.

After graduating from Williams in 2010, Hardy landed an internship with the San Antonio Spurs and later was named to Gregg Popovich’s coaching staff. Hardy was connected with the franchise through his mentor and former Williams College head basketball coach Curt Tong. After coaching at Williams, Tong became the Athletic Director at Pomona-Pitzer where Popovich was already the head men’s basketball coach. Tong moved back to Williamstown but remained close friends with Popovich and that connection helped Hardy make the jump to the NBA sidelines.

During his time with the Spurs, Hardy worked with Ime Udoka who played forward for the Spurs. Udoka was named the Boston Celtics’ head coach in June 2021 and recruited Hardy to be his lead assistant.

Hardy joins the following Division III alums who are currently NBA coaches:

  • Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer played basketball and golf from 1988 – 1992 at Pomona-Pitzer. Budenholzer’s older brothers also played for the Sagehens under Popovich who left for the NBA before Budenholzer arrived in 1988.
  • The Charlotte Hornets recently named Maine-Farmington alum Steve Clifford as their new head coach. Clifford scored 250 points over four years for the Beavers, graduating in 1983.
  • Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch played four seasons and was a two-time All-American at Franklin and Marshall. He finished his career with a then-Division III record 119 games played, all but four of them starts.
  • New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau played four seasons at Salem State from 1977 – 1981 and helped the Vikings reach the Division III Tournaments in 1980 and 1981.
  • Washington Wizards head coach Wes Unseld, Jr. played four seasons at Johns Hopkins, graduating in 1997. Unseld had the rare distinction of being an all-conference recipient for two different conferences in the same season. He received that honor from the UAA and Centennial Conference when the Bluejays had joint membership in 1996.

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