As the 2016 season draws closer, I had the idea to take a closer look at some of the new Assistant Coaches that will be parked on Orlando’s bench this upcoming year. Frank Vogel was the headline acquisition of this past offseason, and what Vogel can bring or do for the organization has already been discussed at length on this site. But the Head Coach cannot do it alone, it takes a village day in and day out to have the team prepared and ready to go in an 82+ (hopefully) game season. Without fully understanding what specific responsibilities each coach will be tasked with yet, I thought it would still be good to rundown a brief history of each coach’s background and what they could potentially bring to the table.
Jay Hernandez – Assistant Coach/Player Development
Hernandez, who’s a carryover from the teams two previous staffs, was hired to serve on Jacque Vaughn’s staff prior to the 2014 season. Jay was then brought back in 2015 when Scott Skiles became the Head Coach.
Three different Head Coaches in three consecutive seasons, all of them thought highly enough of Jay to want him on their staffs. I think that says a lot about Coach Hernandez and what he brings to the Orlando Magic.
According to NBA.com, Hernandez founded Pro Hoops, Inc. in 2004, which is a basketball training service that is aimed towards helping basketball prospects of all ages “reach their full potential”.
Any staff would be lucky to have Hernandez; from all accounts that I’ve read, he’s a tireless worker. Hernandez is a former College Basketball player (New Hampshire and Hofstra), and he still routinely mixes it up at practice leading countless ball-handling drills, conditioning workouts, etc. Hernandez led Hofstra to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in the early 2000’s. The coach of those dominant Hofstra teams at the time was current Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright. Anyone that comes from the Jay Wright coaching tree, or is related to Wright and basketball in any way for that matter, is okay with me (I think Wright is obviously one of the true elite basketball minds we have in the game today).
Above all else, Hernandez is a great follow on social media. He tweets from his handle, “@RepYourWork”, fairly regularly with a lot of basketball related content. Hernandez even posts pictures and videos pretty routinely on Twitter of Magic players that he is working out (Fournier, Gordon, etc.) before, during, or after practice that particular day. In fact, Hernandez posted on social media from France this past summer, where he traveled to workout Evan Fournier (and also vacation with his family).
Corliss Williamson – Assistant Coach
Williamson was hired to join Frank Vogel’s staff this past June after he previously serving as an assistant coach for the Sacramento Kings from 2013-2015.
Compared to the other coaches on staff, I’m sure we are all most familiar with Corliss from his playing days. Williamson was a highly decorated collegiate player, leading the Arkansas Razorbacks during the Nolan Richardson era to a National Championship in 1994 (and a National Runner-up finish in 1995). Williamson earned two SEC Player of the Year awards during his college days and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 1994 Final Four.
Williamson went on to be a lottery pick of the Sacramento Kings in 1995 and ultimately lasted as an NBA player for 13 more years. Corliss got a ring in 2004 serving in a reserve role as a member of the Detroit Pistons. Additionally, Williamson crossed paths with then assistant coach Frank Vogel during the 2004-05 season in Philadelphia while playing for the Sixers. I remember Corliss as a strong, gritty, tough, and undersized NBA Power Forward who lacked elite athleticism but still got the very most out of his ability.
After retiring from the NBA, Williamson immediately got into coaching back in Arkansas at Arkansas Baptist College, and then at the University of Central Arkansas (where he was named Head Coach in 2010).
Corliss headed to the padded benches of the NBA after the 2012 season, serving as an Assistant Coach for the Sacramento Kings under Michael Malone, and then George Karl in 2015. According to Josh Robbins from the Orlando Sentinel, “Malone and Karl both raved about Williamson’s coaching skills.”
Williamson brings a championship pedigree, both from his time in college and in the NBA, to this new Orlando Magic staff. I’m not sure in what capacity exactly he will serve (will he work more on offensive development, defensive development, etc.) with the Magic, but I’m excited nonetheless for the organization and the hiring of Corliss Williamson.
David Adelman – Assistant Coach
If you’re an NBA fan, which of course you are, you recognize the name. Yes, Rick Adelman is David’s father, and yes – Rick Adelman could coach. Apparently, his son David can coach a little bit too.
According to NBA.com, Adelman began his coaching career at the high school level, first as an assistant and then as a head coach in Portland. David joined the family business in 2011, working in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves (and his dad), as a player development coach. Adelman has been with the Timberwolves ever since, and was promoted to an “assistant coach” position in 2014.
Frank Vogel plucked Adelman from Minnesota and clearly thinks very highly of him. “I kind of feel like he’s a hidden gem from a coaching standpoint,” Vogel stated back in June. Vogel is not the only one who’s positive about Adelman’s potential. Zach Harper of CBS Sports tweeted on the 29th of June that “he really liked his [Adelman’s] development work with the Wolves.”
Adelman was a key member of Minnesota’s staff the last few years as the organization was breaking a handful of young players into the league. Adelman coached the Wolves Summer League team, and was instrumental in the continued development of Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine in particular. In fact, before the Wolves hired Tom Thibodeau last offseason, Wiggins spent some time campaigning for Adelman to be considered for the position. I foresee Adelman most likely working in a similar capacity with the Magic, working regularly with guys like Elfrid Payton and Mario Hezonja on getting better at their craft.
Chad Forcier – Lead Assistant Coach
Chad Forcier was clearly the “sexy” addition to Vogel’s staff this past summer. Forcier has plenty of supporters league-wide who recognize him as a top up-and-coming assistant in the industry that has a very bright future coaching in the NBA.
Forcier hails from the Pacific Northwest, and he began his coaching career in that region of the country as an assistant at the collegiate level (Oregon State, University of Portland). Chad broke in to the NBA as an assistant coach in 2001, he hails from the Rick Carlisle coaching tree. Forcier worked on Carlisle’s staffs both in Detroit and Indiana. Forcier has served for the last decade as a player-development/assistant coach under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio.
According to Frank Vogel, Orlando’s new head coach has had his eye on Forcier for some time. He clearly holds Chad in high esteem, enough for Vogel to name Forcier the “lead assistant” on the staff.
“I tried to hire Chad a couple of different times in my tenure at Indiana, and it wasn’t the right time for him and his family,” Vogel said. “But I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for him.
“What Chad was able to accomplish, he was a big part of their success [in San Antonio]. There’s a lot of guys in this profession that are with winning teams but maybe have a minor role. I felt like his role down there was a big part of their success in terms of creating the model — the gold standard — for player development.”
It’s hard to envision the future of the San Antonio Spurs organization without first thinking about the dominant force that is Kawhi Leonard. Yet Leonard wasn’t near a perfect player coming out of college. Forcier gets tons of credit both from around the league and from coaches on his own staff for his efforts molding Leonard into the player he is today. I mean obviously Leonard had the talent and the tools to be an All-NBA player, Forcier just helped move along the process. Forcier also worked diligently with then Spurs guard Corey Joseph, who has now blossomed into a very serviceable guard for his hometown Toronto Raptors.
He’s got a proven program and track record for developing young talent within an organization that has achieved sustainable success in which Orlando has been working towards for some time. Forcier just may be the key cog that’s been missing on Orlando’s bench, and the Magic represent a great opportunity for Chad to advance further in his coaching career. And as far as Aaron Gordon is concerned, he might as well consider himself a grad student, because he will be attending Forcier University in the very near future.
Forcier served as the Head Coach of Orlando’s Summer League ‘Blue’ team this past July.
So there you have it, those are our guys on the bench. Maybe you have noticed, that’s not a lot of coaches compared to some other staffs around the league. Vogel has said a few times already during his tenure as Orlando’s lead man that he prefers a smaller staff. Vogel regards his current staff as “extremely versatile” and capable of covering numerous coaching responsibilities. Versatility on our roster, and now versatility coaching our roster. I can’t wait for 2016 to get underway!