Santa Cruz Warriors assistant coach Vitaly Potapenko was named the Cleveland Cavaliers new director of player development on Thursday.
Potapenko, 38, spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the Warriors and the Dakota Wizards. Before the Golden State Warriors D-League affiliate relocated to Santa Cruz and donned a new name, he helped the Wizards get to the top of the Eastern Conference. Last year he aided Santa Cruz in their run to the NBA D-League Finals, where the Rio Grande Valley Vipers eventually beat them in a 2-0 sweep.
During his tenure the franchise went 61-39 in the regular season, and five Warriors/Wizards earned Gatorade Call-Ups.
“It’s been a pleasure to have Vitaly on the coaching staff for the past two seasons,” said Santa Cruz Warriors General Manager Kirk Lacob in a press release. “He was a tremendous asset to this team and a vital part of our success. He had a great relationship with our players – especially our big men – and worked hard on developing every single one of them. We know he will have remarkable success in Cleveland, and we wish him the best.”
Potapenko was previously called up to the Indiana Pacers in 2010 after serving as an assistant coach for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Under Head Coach Jim O’Brien and Interim Head Coach Frank Vogel, Potapenko helped lead the Pacers to a 37-45 record and a spot in the 2011 NBA Playoffs.
Potapenko was selected 12th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1996 NBA Draft. Nicknamed “The Ukraine Train,” he averaged 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds over 11 seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, Seattle SuperSonics and the Sacramento Kings. His most productive season came in 1998-99 after being traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Boston Celtics on March 11, 1999.
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