Former UCSB basketball star Conner Henry, the first of coach Jerry Pimm’s Gauchos to play in the NBA, is heading to the Land Down Under to coach the Adelaide 36ers of Australia’s National Basketball League.
Henry, a point guard who scored 1,236 points at UCSB from 1982 to 1986 to rank 17th on the school’s all-time scoring list, previously served as an assistant coach with the Orlando Magic. He was also the NBA Development League (now G-League) Coach of the Year in 2014 when he was with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
He originally came to Australia in 2006 to serve as an assistant coach for Scott Fisher, his former Gaucho teammate. He took over as head coach in 2008.
Henry, 56, also served on the staff of the Sydney Kings in 2010 before returning to the United States to coach in the NBA Development League.
“During my 3½ years in the NBL many years ago, I really enjoyed the people and I enjoyed the lifestyle,” Henry said. “I’ve been asked what’s bringing me back to the NBL and, quite frankly, it’s the league. It’s one of the best leagues in the world right now.
“It was growing (until) this crazy pandemic that we’re in right now. It’s known worldwide now as a tough, exciting, fast-paced, and well-run league.”
Henry was a 6-foot-6, long-range-shooting point guard for UCSB. His career three-point percentage of .405 ranks sixth in the Gaucho record books and his 394 assists is fifth. He led UCSB in scoring during his senior season of 1985-86 with a 17.3-point average.
The Houston Rockets picked him in the fourth round of the 1986 NBA Draft. He also played for the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings. He also played professionally for 10 years in Italy, Spain, France, and Greece.
After his coaching stint in Fort Wayne, Henry was named head coach of the D League’s Los Angeles D-Fenders in June of 2015, but was soon lured away to become an assistant with the Orlando Magic.
Adelaide 36ers chairman and owner, Grant Kelley announced Henry’s hiring in a prepared release by saying, “Conner’s passion, dedication, positivity and drive to succeed has made him the perfect fit for where we are wanting to drive the club.”
WARRIORS TOP GSAC
Westmont College has won the Golden State Athletic Conference All-Sports Award for the eighth-straight year.
The award is based on the school’s placement in the final team standings for sports that play a regular season schedule, or at the conference championship event for track and field, cross country and golf.
“Winning eight straight shows the consistency across all sports that we are striving for and I’m thankful for the way our coaching staff supports each other,” Westmont athletic director Dave Odell said. “Prior to the suspension of spring sports and the cancellation of the basketball national tournaments, we were experiencing possibly one of our most successful years athletically.
“It was our highest overall winning percentage and grabbing at least a share of five out of seven GSAC championships was phenomenal.”
In the fall, Westmont earned 10 points when men’s soccer claimed the GSAC championship. Volleyball and women’s soccer each earned 9.5 points as GSAC co-champions. Women’s cross country scored nine points with a second-place finish while men’s cross country added seven with a fourth-place standing.
The winter sports season saw the men’s and women’s basketball teams snag 10 points each with regular season championships, giving the Warriors a final posted score of 10.29, the highest ever recorded.
SMITH WINS SID AWARD
The GSAC named Ron Smith as winner of the Sheri Pine Sports Information Director of the Year Award. The award is voted upon by SID representatives from each GSAC school.
“This recognition is especially gratifying this year as it has been, perhaps, the most challenging of my 16 years at Westmont,” Smith said.
During the 2019-20 athletic season alone, he and his staff of Tim Heiduk and Rob Goodrow hosted four GSAC Tournaments out of the five held on campus sites.
He previously won the GSAC award in the school years of 2014-15 and 2017-18. He’s also served two terms as the GSAC SID Chair, representing the conference’s SIDs on the GSAC Administrative Committee.
“Ron has always been one of the leaders among the SIDs in the conference,” GSAC assistant commissioner Lucas Armstrong said. “He was crucial with the help of the conference website redesign and created the GSAC awards database.”
Smith is the Second Vice-President of the NAIA-SIDA Executive Board. He also held positions on the board from 2009-12 and 2013-15. The NAIA honored him in 2017 with the Clarence “Ike” Pearson Award, given annually by the NAIA-SIDA for “outstanding contributions to the profession.”
“Ron’s love for our student-athletes and commitment to the mission of the college is exemplified every day in the way he serves,” Odell said. “Ron is a pioneer in the small college broadcasting arena and has led the development of one of the finest college production departments around.”
As the GSAC SID of the Year, Smith is now up for consideration to be selected as NAIA SID of the Year.