VANCOUVER – Former UBC Thunderbirds men's basketball player Jama Mahlalela has been named an assistant coach by the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association.
Mahlalela spent his five years (1999-2004) at UBC playing for head coaches Kevin Hanson and Bruce Enns, winning a Canada West title in 2003. A team captain, he was known for his spirit and dedication to the school, serving as president of the Thunderbird Athletes Council and athletic representative to the University Athletic Council. Mahlalela also devoted his time to helping children in the African country of Swaziland, where he was born. After leaving UBC, he had a four-year stint as an assistant coach with the University of Toronto's men's basketball team.
Mahlalela spent the last two seasons working in the Raptors' front-office as director of player development. He started with the Raptors on the community development staff in 2006, leading the Raptors Basketball Academy and various clinics throughout Canada. Mahlalela was named director of basketball operations for NBA Asia in 2009 and oversaw the League's clinics, youth programs and elite-level development from his base in Hong Kong.
"Jama is one of the best player relations and player development guys that we have," Toronto head coach Dwane Casey told The Associated Press. "I've seen the talent he has as far as teaching on the court and working with guys."
Mahlalela, a 2004 Human Kinetics graduate, will serve as an assistant alongside Bill Bayno and Jesse Mermuys, who were also named to the Raptors' coaching staff today.
- with files from the Toronto Raptors