Twenty years after being one of the best high school basketball players to come out of Vallejo, Damany Hendrix seems to have found his calling in the sport, but as a coach.
The 1998 Vallejo High graduate signed a contract this week to become an assistant coach and player development liason with the NBA G League affiliate of the Phoenix Suns, the Northern Arizona Suns.
Hendrix took the job after working last season as an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors’ G-League team, Raptors 905. Before that he was the head coach of the boys basketball team at Justin-Siena for two seasons. He has also been an assistant at Cal Maritime and Vallejo High.
One person that helped Hendrix get his job with Toronto was former NBA player-turned coach, Jerry Stackhouse. But when Stackhouse took a job to become an assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies, Hendrix knew he had to start looking for another job.
“There is a lot of coaching turnover in the NBA. Jerry (Stackhouse) took the job in Memphis, so I started looking elsewhere. I didn’t have too many options, but I went through the process and I have a good feeling about the new Suns’ head coach Igor Kokoskov,” Hendrix said. “He’s very innovative and I see a lot of improvement coming to the team. We won’t be relying on isolation for offense all the time.”
Hendrix said his role with the Suns includes a little bit of everything and that he will be working with guards, forwards and centers.
“Right now our big thing is trying to fill out a roster for the NBA team and making sure everyone is ready to go,” Hendrix said. “Once the season settles in I will be doing a lot of scouting of opponents and watching a lot of film with the guys and breaking it down.”
The Suns finished with the NBA’s worst record last season as they only won 21 games. However, due to this they were able to win the draft lottery and eventually took Deandre Ayton, a 7-foot center out of the University of Arizona, with the first pick. So far Hendrix has liked what he’s seen from Ayton.
“Deandre is a big kid with a lot of great energy,” Hendrix said. “He’s got a great personality. He’s loud and boisterous, but I think that’s a good thing. Tyson Chandler is one of our leaders on the team and I think Deandre and him are forming a real good relationship.”
Hendrix said one of the reasons he loves coaching in the G League is because there is still a lot of teaching going on still at the level.
“In this league there are a lot of rookies still learning the game, so you’re still teaching them, while once a player gets a few years in the NBA you don’t teach them as much as just polish there skills,” Hendrix said.
Before Hendrix was a coach, he was a star player on Vallejo High’s 1998 team that won a Sac-Joaquin Section championship. From there he went to Gonzaga University in Washington. He transferred to Santa Rosa Junior College and became the conference MVP during his stay at the school. He eventually graduated from Lamar University in Texas.
It’s been 20 years since Hendrix won the section championship with Vallejo and he said the team had a reunion this summer.
“Reunions are a little different these days due to social media,” Hendrix said with a laugh. “I see most of the families I saw at the reunion online all the time. But it was nice to hear some people talking to me about my career as a coach. People I didn’t even know said they were following me as a good, and that was a really nice thing to hear.”
Hendrix added that he has some special plans on doing something in Vallejo in the future to help kids in the area, even if it isn’t a camp or clinic.
“I want them to know that if you can’t make the NBA or whatever sport you’re interested in as a player, you can still find ways to have a job in that area whether it be somewhere in the front office, or on the bench as a coach,” Hendrix said. “I just want to give all the kids hope that they can do something big. My journey to become a coach has been like my journey as a player. It’s been very trying and has had a lot of ups and downs, but I love what I do.”