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Get To Know The Timberwolves And Lynx Basketball Academy Staff

by Julian Andrews
Web Editorial Associate Follow

The Timberwolves and Lynx Basketball Academy is responsible for running basketball camps and clinics around the Midwest. They work with youth aged 14 and under to develop skills, build confidence and help youth raise their games. Get to know their passionate and dedicated staff!

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John Thomas, VP of Basketball Development

From: Minneapolis, MN.
Time with Timberwolves and Lynx: Almost two years.
Role on the Jr. NBA and Basketball Academy Staff: Primarily working to oversee the vision and strategy of Academy while providing leadership and support for our team.

Basketball experience? Professional. Five years in the NBA and almost 10 years overseas.

What do you love to do? What brings you joy? Listen to music, play chess, watch football and basketball, read, exercise, travel and try new food. I live for the quality experiences shared with family, friends and co-workers. There’s nothing like genuinely connecting with people.

What is your favorite part of your job? Building with my team and getting out in the basketball community to share our passion and lessons learned.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from sports? If used the right way, basketball has the power to transform lives across the globe. The many lessons I’ve learned on the court can also be applied to business and life. I’ve learned what it means to be a part of something much bigger than myself.

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George Ellis, Director of Basketball Academy

From: Minneapolis, MN.
Time with Timberwolves and Lynx: Three weeks!
Role on the Jr. NBA and Basketball Academy Staff: My role is to lead a dynamic team with the intent to improve the overall basketball experience for players, parents, coaches and administrators within the Upper Midwest. Through our impactful programs and partnerships, we aim to be influential and drive positive action towards changing culture and setting a new standard within the basketball community.

Basketball experience? Prior to joining the Minnesota Timberwolves & Lynx, I served as the Director of Sports Development for the National Sports Center, the world’s largest amateur sports facility. I lead the research and development of the National Sports Center’s first basketball/court facility and partnered with youth athletic associations/clubs to provide meaningful opportunities to improve athletic development. My time also included managing the Hennepin Youth Sports Program, which each year provides $2 million in funding to local schools and governments to improve youth athletic and recreation facilities and to purchase athletic equipment to benefit youth sports throughout Hennepin County.

I worked as the Associate Head Boys Basketball Coach under Hall of Fame Coach Larry McKenzie at Minneapolis North High School; a program in a school that almost closed their doors due to declining enrollment and district financial hardships. I was blessed to be an instrumental part of the rebirth of the school and program which was capped by winning the 2016 Boy's State Basketball Championship while sending all our seniors to college on full academic and athletic scholarships and many more thereafter. We were able to revive the dynasty of North High Basketball which has now won 7 Boy's State Basketball Championships. My coaching career has also included working on staff as the Assistant Men's Basketball Coach under Hall of Fame Coach Ron Larson at Anoka Ramsey Community College.

I played basketball at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN.

What do you love to do? What brings you joy? I love coaching and growing young people through the game. I also love influencing the next generation of basketball coaches and leaders to impact our community and the world and overall growing the game. I love my family as well spending time with genuinely good people.

What is your favorite part of your job? My favorite part of my job is growing the business of basketball and working to create a championship culture within my department.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from sports? The game can take you anywhere! I have been throughout Africa and Turkey to aid in the development of basketball players there. I have seen people literally change their lives as a result of using the game of basketball as a platform to improve their quality of life. I have learned to never stop growing and that there is always something new to learn within the game.

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Bre Salley, Senior Basketball Academy Coordinator

From: East Bethel, MN.
Time with Timberwolves and Lynx: Two years.
Role on the Jr. NBA and Basketball Academy Staff: Coordinate and lead camps and clinics.

Basketball experience? Full Scholarship D-1 (U of M, Seattle University), WNBA Training Camp with the Seattle Storm, four seasons playing professionally overseas.

What do you love to do? What brings you joy? I love to do any outdoor activities with my family and friends.

What is your favorite part of your job? First, being surrounded everyday by people that love the sport of basketball. Second, coming along side of and encouraging the next generation of basketball players.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from sports? It is so hard for me to pick just one, but sports continually taught me how to overcome adversity.

I was blessed to be given natural athletic ability, but I was even more blessed to be surrounded by my parents and coaches that brought me up with character and work ethic. Having positive influencers around me through the the adversity I faced in sport created a mental toughness and resilience I now carry with me through life. Whether you play sports up to high school, college, or even professionally. Your athletic life is just a glimpse compared to the life you live outside of it.

Favorite quote: “Sports do not build character. They reveal it.” -John Wooden.

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Matt Bare, SR Manager of Basketball Academy Sales

From: Aitkin, MN.
Time with Timberwolves and Lynx: Over fifteen years.

What do you love to do? What brings you joy? I love to build and maintain relationships with people inside the youth basketball community and work with them to provide memorable experiences for kids and families that will deepen their connection to the game of basketball. The joy I get is from seeing this all happen or getting notes or messages from people about how much a game or an experience meant to them.

What is your favorite part of your job? The favorite part of my job is building and maintaining relationships with people.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from sports? When you do something you love it comes through that much more in what you do either on the court or off of it. People navigate to those that are passionate.

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