|NBL Champion Luke Kendall has been promoted to a full-time assistant coach role at South East Melbourne Phoenix.|
Kendall spent three years as an assistant at the Sydney Kings before joining the Phoenix in a part-time player development role last year for their inaugural season.
The 39-year-old played on the 2005 Sydney Kings title team, also representing Melbourne, Perth and Gold Coast across his NBL career.
Kendall was also a member of the gold medal-winning Australian team at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
He says making the move to the Phoenix last year and committing to a larger role in NBL21 was an easy one.
“The decision to come down and be part of a brand-new team in my original home area – Kilsyth and the Heartland – was really a no-brainer,” Kendall said.
“I’d been in Sydney for a while with my family and the chance to come down and still remain in the NBL and be a part of a new up-and-coming team in the Heartland of basketball was a pretty easy decision for me.
“Since we’ve been down here, we’ve loved every minute. It’s been great being a part of the organisation.”
Kendall grew up in the Heartland, playing for the Kilsyth Cobras throughout his junior career and later for Nunawading at SEABL level.
The former Boomer also brings a wealth of experience playing under a number of famous basketball coaching names across the world, including former NBA coach Mike Dunlap during his college career and legendary NBL coach Brian Goorjian at Sydney.
His time as an assistant coach in Sydney was shared with NBL playing and coaching greats Andrew Gaze, Lanard Copeland and Dean Vickerman before joining the coaching staff at the Phoenix.
Kendall says the buzz created by the Phoenix around the passionate basketball community in the South East is one of his favourite aspects of his new job.
“I’ve absolutely loved it. I just love being around the Melbourne atmosphere; the basketball down here is a different level,” he said.
“There’s a real following and belief, especially with this new team. All my old friends who live in the area are all going for the Phoenix now.
“It’s exciting to be a part of this new organisation and how we’re building it. I think everyone’s jumped on board and really enjoyed the experience.”
Kendall joins head coach Simon Mitchell and assistant coach Judd Flavell in the top coaching positions at the Phoenix.
The Phoenix’s NBL21 season begins on January 10 against Melbourne United.
South East Melbourne Phoenix are the NBL’s newest franchise, based in Australian basketball’s Heartland. Their first season saw them set records for the highest attendance for a home debut, first NBL franchise in history to win their first three games and highest first year average attendance for a brand-new franchise in the NBL.