Oklahoma City’s newest professional team has its first head coach.
On Friday afternoon, Sam Presti and the Thunder hired Florida assistant Mark Daigneault to lead its D-League affiliate – the team formerly known as the Tulsa 66ers which is relocating to Oklahoma City this season and has yet to determine its name.
"Mark has placed a high value on development throughout his career and we feel that he is well aligned with the goals of our organization,” Presti said in a press release.
Daignealt is replacing Darko Rajakovic, who was promoted to the Thunder's coaching staff this offseason.
At 29, Daigneault is extremely young for the profession. But he has plenty of experience. Daigneault attended the University of Connecticut and, as a freshman, began performing various tasks for the nationally renowned basketball program as a team manager. By his senior year, he had earned extra duties and, upon graduation, was hired as an assistant coach at Holy Cross.
Daigneault worked at Holy Cross for three seasons before moving to the University of Florida in 2010, where he has been the last four years working as an assistant to Billy Donovan. Daigneault has also assisted Donovan during his time coaching Team USA.
“His experience at Florida under Coach Donovan has provided him the platform to apply his intelligence and relationship skills to help strengthen the program," Presti said through the release. "We are excited about Mark joining the organization and continuing his professional growth.”
“Mark has been a valuable member of our staff the past four seasons, and I'm very happy to see him get this opportunity with a great organization,” Donovan said through the release. “We all wish him the best of luck and know he'll do a tremendous job.”
The Thunder also recently hired Weber State assistant Phil Beckner to be part of Daigneault's staff. Beckner has been at Weber State for the seven years and developed a strong bond with Blazers star Damian Lillard when he played there.
"No one has been more dedicated, loyal or invested in our program than Phil has been for the last seven years," Weber State coach Randy Rahe said in a press release. "He has been a huge part of the success we’ve had. We are truly going to miss him."
But Daigneault is the head man. And this season, for the first time, his team will play its home games at the Cox Convention Center and hold practices at the Thunder's old facility in Edmond, linking the D-League team to its parent club more than ever before.
"I have had a great deal of respect for the Thunder organization throughout my career, and I'm excited to immerse myself in the culture there, and focus on the continued development of the program,” Daigneault said in a release.