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Billy Donovan Makes First Bulls' Coaching Hire

Per Keith Pompey of the Philly Inquirer, Billy Donovan has begun building his Bulls coaching staff with the hiring of John Bryant as an assistant.
John Bryant Bulls Assistant Coach


Chicago Bulls' head coach Billy Donovan made the first hire to his new coaching staff on Wednesday. He has called upon John Bryant to be an assistant coach. Bryant had been in the same position with the Philadelphia 76ers organization during the 2019-20 season.

Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer initially broke the news of Bryant’s hiring.

Bryant’s leadership and his ability to connect with individuals has enabled him to get the most out of his players. This should be the first of many solid additions to Donovan’s staff.

With the 76ers’ firing of head coach Brett Brown, almost all of their assistant coaches have left to join other teams in similar roles. Bryant initially stayed since he was a candidate for the 76ers’ head coaching position. However, Doc Rivers was ultimately hired for the 76ers' lead role.

In Philly, Bryant’s coaching career started off with an assistant coaching gig for the 76ers G-League affiliate, which lasted from 2014-2016. He then was promoted within the organization to a player development role from 2016-2018. He continued to climb the coaching hierarchy when he was named an assistant coach in 2018. Notably, he was part of the staff that took the 76ers from 28 wins in 2016 to a 50-plus win team in the two following years.

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Bulls' current general manager Marc Eversley’s tenure in the 76ers’ front office overlapped with Bryant’s. It raises the question of whether Eversley was the one who brought Bryant to Donovan’s attention or whether Donovan already had him on his radar.

Bryant’s coaching resume includes interesting international experience. He served as an assistant coach for the Nigerian men’s national team that won the 2015 AfroBasket title and the 2016 Rio Olympic team. He also is currently affiliated with the Angolan national team, according to his Twitter bio.

This experience adds to the international arsenal Arturas Karnisovas has built within most departments of the Bulls organization, enabling the team to expand its reach all over the world.

Bryant’s playing career is self-described as “average”. He played collegiately for St. Joseph’s from 2001 to 2005. This included the 2004 St. Joseph’s run to the Elite 8. He also made it to the next level in the NBA D-League (now named the G-League). Still not done with playing, he continued his career in Australia, China, the Czech Republic, England, Germany, and the ABA.

Throughout his playing career, Bryant said he frequently found himself excelling in leadership roles and wanting to manage, so that’s what made him leap into coaching.

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