The Dakota Wizards have hired Vitaly (vee-TAH-lee) Potapenko (poe-TAH-pen-koe) as the team’s assistant coach, the team announced today. Potapenko will serve under newly hired Head Coach Nate Bjorkgren for the 2011-12 season.
Potapenko brings two years of coaching experience to the Wizards, having most recently served as an assistant coach for the Indiana Pacers this past season. In Indiana, under Head Coach Jim O’Brien and Interim Head Coach Frank Vogel, Potapenko helped lead the Pacers to a 37-45 record and a trip to the 2011 NBA Playoffs.
Prior to joining the Pacers, Potapenko served as an assistant coach for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League under Head Coach Joey Meyer during the 2009-10 season.
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. He averaged 10.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 33 games (32 starts) for the Celtics.
Prior to joining the NBA, Potapenko played for Budivelnyk (Ukraine) from 1992-1994 and finished his career playing for MMT Estudiantes in the Spanish ACB during the 2007-2008 season.
Potapenko, 36, was born in Kiev, USSR.