The Los Angeles D-Fenders have just three more games left this season, but as ESPN reported, their current head coach Reggie Theus will not be rejoining the team next season. This is not the first time in which the D-Fenders have had a head coach go "one and done." In fact, last year's NBA D-League Head Coach of the Year Eric Musselman, also left after spending one season with the club.
Theus will now join the aforementioned Musselman, as former D-League head coaches who decided to take their coaching talents to the collegiate level, after one season. Both Theus and Musselman have had stints in the NBA as head coaches, and the two also share a common bond as former broadcasters as well. It seems that everyone's goal in the NBA D-League is to receive a Call-Up to the Association, but have Theus and Musselman carved out another successful path in which other coaches will follow?
Musselman helped Arizona State develop it's talented group of players this season, while also having a key role in getting the program back to a top contending team in the Pac-12. Theus will likely install a winning culture at Cal State Northridge as well, along with implementing strategies that he's learned this past season in the NBADL. When I spoke with Theus back in February, the former Sacramento Kings and New Mexico State head coach, described his coaching experience in the NBA D-League as "the toughest coaching job I've ever had."
There have also been accounts of college coaches heading to the D-League and succeeding. In fact, current Canton Charge head coach Alex Jensen, left Saint Louis as an assistant coach to take over the reigns for the Charge. Jensen has led the Charge to another successful season this year, as his squad has punched it's second-straight ticket to the playoffs and clinched the Eastern Division.
As the field of players in the NBA D-League continues to move towards a more youthful majority rather than veterans who are long past their prime, head coaches now have an increased amount of impact by aiding in player's development. From the college ranks to the D-League, or even vice versa, there seems to be an obvious connection between the two coaching landscapes.
This season also saw the first high school-to-NBA D-League head coaching transition. Former Findlay Prep head coach Michael Peck is on the verge of concluding his first season with the Portland Trail Blazers D-League affiliate, the Idaho Stampede. Peck may of well been coaching in the college ranks prior to his stint in the NBADL, as some of the talent he helped develop at Findlay Prep, went on to be successful professionals in their own right.
Nevertheless, outside of the clear connection that the NBA D-League and NBA share in regard to coaching and front office personnel Call-Ups, a coaching route involving the collegiate ranks has become evident as well. Experience is certainly valuable for all coaches from any background, and the NBA D-League has positioned itself as another alternative for coaches to showcase their skills in developing basketball talent.