Bucks Name Bender and Van Exel Assistant Coaches
General Manager John Hammond announced today that Bob Bender and Nick Van Exel will join Larry Drew’s staff as assistant coaches for the Milwaukee Bucks. Bender joins the Bucks after nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, including the last three with Drew as head coach. Van Exel also worked with Drew as a member of the Hawks staff from 2010-12 as the player development instructor.
“Bob and Nick were both important pieces of my staff in Atlanta, and I’m excited that they are joining me on the bench in Milwaukee,” said Drew. “Bob’s merits as a coach have been proven through his past experience, and Nick’s successful career in the NBA gives him a strong platform to mentor and coach our players. They will be dedicated to the task of teaching and building up our young men in order for the Bucks to put a hard-working, committed team on the court.”
Prior to his time on Atlanta’s staff, Bender was with the Philadelphia 76ers from 2002-04, first as their assistant coach/player development and then as an assistant coach on the bench. His coaching career began as an assistant under Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, and he continued in the college ranks for 13 years.
Bender was first named a head coach at Illinois State in 1990, where he earned two Missouri Valley Conference Championships, one conference tournament title and an NCAA Tournament berth. He then spent nine years at the University of Washington (1994-2001), where he directed the Huskies to four consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament from 1996 to 1999. Bender was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 1996.
A Duke graduate and Quantico, Va., native, Bender is the only individual to play on two different teams in two different NCAA Championship games – one as a freshman on Bob Knight's undefeated 1976 Indiana team and the other as a guard at Duke in the 1978 title game against Kentucky. He was drafted by the San Diego Clippers in the sixth round before his senior year, but did not play.
Kenosha, Wis., native Van Exel enjoyed a 13-year career as a player in the NBA, including 76 playoff games and one All-Star appearance (1998) from 1993-2006. He put up career averages of 14.4 points, 6.6 assists per game and 2.9 rebounds per game. Van Exel was selected by the L.A. Lakers in the second round of the 1993 NBA Draft (37th overall) and was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie team in 1994.
Prior to his two seasons as the Hawks’ player development instructor, Van Exel worked as an assistant coach at Texas Southern University during the 2009-10 season.