You could go so far as to say Grant Hill was always meant for this.
Earlier this afternoon, USA Basketball announced that the Basketball Hall of Famer will be taking over for Jerry Colangelo as the National Team Director, a position Colangelo has held for 15 years.
In a way, it’s a position Hill’s always been meant to take over. He’s had a lengthy involvement with the Team USA program, beginning as a player during his teenage years, which included a FIBA Americas U18 gold medal in 1990, and he was part of the second NBA-rostered Team USA squad of 1996 that won gold in Georgia. Despite injuries, Hill put together a 19-year career as an NBA player from 1994-2013 following a famed four-year stint at Duke. And since then, he’s joined the board of the Atlanta Hawks, purchasing a small stake in the team alongside its current majority owner, Tony Ressler, in 2015.
Of his appointment to the role, Hill said: “As a member of the 1996 Dream Team, I know the thrill and responsibility it is to represent our country. I am confident USA Basketball will continue to showcase the top talent and highest character players in our country.”
Hill’s developed a great reputation over the years for his leadership and philanthropy, and he now finds himself at the center of a changing-of-the-guard for Team USA — the first Black man to fill its prestigious director seat. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Adam Silver pushed for Hill’s candidacy. He also notes that part of Hill’s role, to be assumed after the Tokyo Olympics, will be navigating Team USA in a post-Gregg Popovich era.
Although Popovich is committed to the upcoming Olympics, Hill will have to appoint his successor, whether it be for the very next cycle or the one following. On his assistant staff during the 2019 FIBA World Cup, where Team USA finished in seventh place, were Golden State Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr, former Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce, and Villanova head coach Jay Wright. Kerr, in particular, could be the logical successor to Popovich. Jeff Van Gundy has also been a coach in the Team USA realm for teams mostly led by G League and developmental players and could be a dark horse for the big seat in the future.