Mitchell hire made official by the U of M

MEMPHIS – University of Memphis coach Penny Hardaway announced Sam Mitchell, a veteran NBA coach and a former league coach of the year, has joined his staff as an assistant.

Mitchell, 54, will complete Hardaway’s first staff. Mitchell joins Tony Madlock and Mike Miller as previously announced assistants.

“He’s just a veteran of the game,” Hardaway said. “He’s coached at the highest level.”

Mitchell comes to the UofM with a lengthy history as an NBA coach and player.

He began his coaching career in 2002 with the Milwaukee Bucks as an assistant and was named the sixth head coach in the Toronto Raptors in 2004. After the 2006-07 season, Mitchell was named the NBA Coach of the Year.

During 2006-07, he led the Raptors to a 20-game improvement over the previous season and the Eastern Conference Atlantic Division title. It was the Raptors’ first division title in franchise history

Overall, he led the Raptors to two playoff appearances as their head coach.

Mitchell also had NBA assistant coaching stints with the New Jersey Nets (2010-12) and the Timberwolves (2014-15). He was named Minnesota’s interim coach in 2015-16 when Flip Saunders was forced to take a leave of absence after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He became the team’s head coach when Saunders died a month later.

As a player, he spent 13 seasons in the league and played the majority of his career with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He also played for the Indiana Pacers. During an NBA career that spanned 994 games, Mitchell, a 6-foot-6 forward, averaged 8.7 points per game. He also appeared in 59 playoff games.

He was taken in the third round of the NBA Draft in 1985 by the Houston Rockets and began his NBA career in 1989 with the expansion Timberwolves. During that inaugural season, Mitchell averaged 12.7 points in 80 games. He scored his career-high (37 points) versus the Philadelphia 76ers on Feb. 3, 1991.

With the Pacers during 1994-95 season, he contributed to the team’s run to the Eastern Conference finals.

Mitchell has been sought as a radio and television basketball analyst. He has done analyst work for NBA TV and TSN and has served as a talk show co-host on SiriusXM NBA Radio. He also has been involved with grassroots basketball coaching an elite level 17-and-under team.

Born in Columbus, Ga., Mitchell played at Mercer University from 1981 to 1985 and graduated as the leading scorer in school history.