MIAMI—Jim Boylen wasn’t at the World Cup this summer in the Philippines. He just made sure that USA Basketball got there.
And his efforts weren’t unnoticed.
Boylen, an assistant coach with the Indiana Pacers, has been selected as USA Basketball’s coach of the year for his work leading the men’s World Cup qualifying teams—groups of primarily G League players who were selected to play in two-game windows.
The Americans went 9-3 in those six qualifying windows, with Boylen coaching essentially six different teams between November 2021 and last February.
“I get this award, this recognition, but I wasn’t the only guy in the trenches, you know,” Boylen said in an interview this weekend about the award. “And that’s what I thought about when I heard about this. It was an unbelievable honor. I’m so thankful, I’m so grateful, all those things. But it was a lot of people involved with this.”
Boylen had 52 different players and seven different assistant coaches over the span of the qualifying tournament. Those groups did their job—they got the US into the World Cup where the Americans were fourth in Manila this summer, a high enough finish to ensure that USA Basketball had qualified for the upcoming Paris Olympics and the right to chase a fifth consecutive gold medal.
“What he accomplished with those groups of players was truly remarkable,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s an honor that’s very, very well-deserved. He’s a trusted friend of USA Basketball and a valuable advisor. And we’re very fortunate to have him on our staff.”
The Pacers brought Boylen—the former head coach at the University of Utah and of the Chicago Bulls—into their organization last season as a consultant and allowed him to finish his USA Basketball commitment even though that meant he needed some time away from Indiana. He was promoted to an assistant coach before this season.
Boylen and Carlisle go back decades—Carlisle began his college playing career at Maine, where Boylen would later enroll. Carlisle finished his college career at Virginia.
“His passion for the game is legendary,” Carlisle said. AP
Image credits: AP