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Pacers Keeping It In-House, Building Continuity

by Scott Agness

September 18, 2012

This summer, there has been a variety of movement from the Pacers' front office on down, but it all comes back to comfort and familiarity. Donnie Walsh, who had previously directed the Pacers for 24 years, returned as President of Basketball Operations. Kevin Pritchard was upgraded to General Manager and Peter Dinwiddie, who has held a couple titles within the organization, was named Vice President of Basketball Operations.

There’s more.

Pacers Head Coach Frank Vogel has promoted Vance Catlin to Director of Pro Personnel/Scout, Hansen Wong to Head Video Coordinator, and hired Jhared Simpson as Assistant Video Coordinator. These promotions and new hire are notable in that all three were once interns with the Pacers. Vance Catlin profile image

Catlin, who had a stint as a video intern with the Pacers in 2002, has worked a long time to get to this point in his career.

"[The promotion] is made because certain guys put in their hours and pay their dues," Vogel told Pacers.com. "Vance has paid his dues probably three-fold what he should have in terms of advancing to a front office position. We considered him for a position on the coaching staff but ultimately, his passion is with team building and player evaluations and he wanted to pursue something in our front office."

Catlin has been a tireless worker in the organization, beginning in 2004 when he started as the Indiana Fever’s video coordinator. From there, he has been the Pacers assistant video coordinator, and head video coordinator for the past five seasons.

"I’m definitely excited and honored that the higher-ups think highly of me to promote me to such a position," said Catlin. "I’m definitely thankful for learning from such great basketball minds: the entire coaching staff—Frank, Dan Burke, Coach Boylen, Coach Shaw—and Coach O’Brien, Lester Connor and Rick Carlisle through the years. I’ve taken a piece of all their basketball knowledge to make my own."

In his new role, Catlin will do advanced scouting and be responsible for every NBA player not on the Pacers’ roster, including those in the NBADL. It’s a position further up the ladder, where one day, he hopes to be a general manager.

Catlin’s path is very similar to Coach Vogel's. In Boston, Vogel was the head video coordinator for five seasons under Rick Pitino. He then was an assistant coach and advanced scout for four teams before joining Jim O’Brien’s Indiana staff. Now as head coach, he’s where he always wanted to be.

"There’s a parallel there," Vogel admitted. "Rick Pitino told me a long time ago: 'In order to run a team or become a leader, you’ve got to understand the foundation.' That’s what Vance has spent the last seven or eight years doing."

"He’s been the hardest-working guy in the organization ever since he’s been here. To have that type of work ethic, experience and knowledge of NBA players is a huge boost to our front office."

With Vance’s responsibilities changing, Hansen Wong has been elevated to Head Video Coordinator. He has been with the franchise since finishing graduate school at the University of Minnesota in 2004. Most fans don’t know who he is, but the coaches and players depend on him. Wong is always around, just, in the background.

"He’s a complete workhorse," Vogel said of Wong. "He, like Vance, [is] here well before everybody else and well after everybody else—everyday, all year."

"Hansen has extensive experience at everything that goes into being a video coordinator—from the editing equipment to the statistical packages that we use to the all the software that we use for our scouting reports and data and analytics. He’s an expert at all of it. We’re hopeful the transition will be seamless and just promoting him to more of a management position”

Moreover, Jhared Simpson returns to the Pacers as Assistant Video Coordinator after acquiring his master’s degree and coaching at his alma mater for two years, Division II Wheeling Jesuit University. After he received his undergraduate degree in 2008, Simpson was an intern under Catlin and Wong for two seasons.

Coach Vogel praised Simpson’s skills in the video room, but he was also quick to point out that his ability to help on the court is an added plus.

"He’s a great practice body on the court, Vogel noted. "He’s played the game at the collegiate level, has good size and you can throw him in a pickup game or you can throw him in a drill and he can hold his own with some of these guys. That really enhances your practice when you have guys that can do that.

"Anytime you can hire or promote from within, it strengthens continuity and stability. We’re in a place right now where we’ve clearly turned the corner from... [t]he rebuilding days. Now we’re one of the elite teams in the league and in order to sustain that, continuity is very, very important."

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