Casey Hill named Santa Cruz head coach

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Casey Hill, a former Tokyo Apache assistant coach, has been appointed as the new head coach of the Santa Cruz Warriors, the NBA Development League team announced over the weekend.

Hill, 30, was the franchise’s assistant coach for two seasons, including the 2011-12 campaign when the team was known as the Dakota Wizards before relocating to California. Last season, Santa Cruz was the championship runnerup in the D-League Finals.

Departing head coach Nate Bjorkgren left the Warriors after two seasons (61-39 regular-season record) at the helm. He became the D-League club Iowa Energy’s new bench boss.

In an interview with The Japan Times on Monday, Casey Hill said working under his father, Bob, a longtime NBA coach, as the now-defunct Apache’s lead assistant in the bj-league, was instrumental in his growth as a coach.

“Getting to start my professional coaching career in Tokyo with my dad was beyond description,” Hill wrote in an email. “I will always have that experience to cherish and rely on. He provided me with a foundation and framework for developing a philosophy that has driven me forward ever since we returned from Japan. You can bet that he has an open invitation to come spend time in Santa Cruz whenever he wants.”

The elder Hill is currently working as an assistant for the Ukraine national team on Mike Fratello’s staff. Since leaving Tokyo, he has also worked on the Taiwan national team and in the Chinese Basketball Association for the Guangdong club as a consultant. His two other sons, Chris and Cameron, are Texas-based basketball coaches. Chris is the boys coach at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas, while Cameron is the women’s head coach at Trinity University in San Antonio.

“Casey will benefit tons from this experience because the D-League is very difficult to coach in,” Bob Hill told The Japan Times. “He has two years of experience, so he knows what he is getting into. Being his own boss will teach him many valuable lessons. He has coaching in his DNA so he will embrace this experience.”

Bjorkgren said now’s the right time for Hill to become a head coach.

“Casey is ready. Casey will do a good job and I’m proud of the work he did for me in those two years,” Bjorkgren told the Santa Cruz Sentinel. “He’s ready to be a coach in this league and he’ll do well.”

Warriors general manager Kirk Lacob believes Casey Hill is the ideal hire for the club.

“This is a tremendous step forward for our organization,” Lacob said. “Casey has proven he can succeed and work exceptionally well with the Golden State Warriors staff on all aspects of development. We have a bright young coach at the helm and we look forward to the future under the leadership of head coach Hill.”