Cleveland Cavaliers Name Vitaly Potapenko as Assistant Director of Player Development

The Cleveland Cavaliers have named Vitaly Potapenko as the team’s new assistant director of player development, the Cavaliers recently announced.

Potapenko, 38, spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the Santa Cruz Warriors/Dakota Wizards, where he helped lead Santa Cruz to a berth in the NBA D-League Finals and Dakota to the top of the Eastern Conference. During his tenure, the franchise went 61-39 (.610) in the regular season, and there were five GATORADE Call-Ups to the NBA.

“It’s been a pleasure to have Vitaly on the coaching staff for the past two seasons,” said Santa Cruz Warriors General Manager Kirk Lacob. “He was a tremendous asset to this team and a vital part of our success. He had a great relationship with our players – especially our big men – and worked hard on developing every single one of them. We know he will have remarkable success in Cleveland, and we wish him the best.”

Potapenko was previously called up to the Indiana Pacers in 2010 after serving as an assistant coach for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Under Head Coach Jim O’Brien and Interim Head Coach Frank Vogel, Potapenko helped lead the Pacers to a 37-45 record and a spot in the 2011 NBA Playoffs.

Potapenko was selected 12th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1996 NBA Draft. Nicknamed “The Ukraine Train,” he averaged 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds over 11 seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, Seattle SuperSonics and the Sacramento Kings. His most productive season came in 1998-99 after being traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Boston Celtics on March 11, 1999. He averaged 10.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 33 games (32 starts) for the Celtics. Prior to joining the NBA, Potapenko played for Budivelnyk (Ukraine) from 1992-1994 and finished his career playing for MMT Estudiantes in the Spanish ACB during the 2007-2008 season.