Former Kansas University point guard Kevin Pritchard on Tuesday was named director of player personnel for the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers.
Pritchard, 37, who worked as a scout for the San Antonio Spurs the past year and a half after serving as Kansas City Knights coach/general manager for three years, will be responsible for recommending trades and preparing for the NBA draft.
"This is a phenomenal opportunity," Pritchard said Tuesday night. "I get to test my knowledge and expertise against the best in the NBA. This is a culmination of me playing in the NBA, minor leagues and overseas and being with two of the best programs -- the Spurs in the NBA and University of Kansas on the college level."
Pritchard is the second member of KU's 1988 national-championship team to be an NBA player-personnel director. Milt Newton has the same responsibilities with the Washington Wizards. Other members of that '88 team who work for NBA teams are Larry Brown (Detroit coach), R.C. Buford (San Antonio general manager), Mark Randall (Denver community relations), Ed Manning (Memphis scout) and Alvin Gentry (New Orleans assistant coach).
"It's amazing to look at the picture of that '88 team and realize so many guys are involved in basketball," Pritchard said.
Indeed, Danny Manning is on the basketball staff at KU, Mark Turgeon is head coach at Wichita State, David Moe is head coach at Emporia State, John Robic is coach at Youngstown State.
"And Mike Maddox is president of the whole state of Kansas," Pritchard joked.
Maddox is president of Intrust Bank in Lawrence.
Pritchard said leaving Lawrence would be extremely difficult. He and his family were based here during his tenure with the Spurs.
"I've lived here since 1986," said Pritchard, who was raised in Tulsa, Okla. "This is my home, but in this crazy business of basketball, sometimes you have to follow where it takes you. I've been given an unbelievable opportunity by (Blazers' owner) Paul Allen, (GM) John Nash and (president) Steve Patterson. It's something I couldn't turn down after discussing it with my family."
He said he learned a lot working with the Spurs.
"The winning culture ... that's what they are about," Pritchard said. "I was able to learn from R.C. Buford. He's really king of the basketball hill right now. The Spurs are looked upon as the model franchise. Being there, and understanding the culture of winning and decision-making process, will help me a lot in Portland.
"Portland is a great place, an awesome city and Paul Allen is really committed to winning."
The Blazers consider the hiring of Pritchard a coup.
"Kevin brings experience as a former player, both in the NBA and internationally, as a successful minor league coach and as an NBA scout. He is one of the rising young executives in the NBA," Nash said of Pritchard, who played for Golden State, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington and also played in Spain, Italy and Germany.