Penrith Basketball junior and all-round nice guy Matt Nielsen continues to make history overseas, named Assistant Coach of the San Antonio Spurs.
Fresh off guiding the Boomers to an historic Bronze medal in Tokyo last month, the 43-year-old former Penrith High School student joins Becky Hammon and Mitch Johnson on head coach Gregg Popovich’s staff for the upcoming NBA season.
Nielsen spent last season as head coach of the Austin Spurs, San Antonio’s NBA G League affiliate. He led Austin to a 10-5 record and a spot in the 2021 G League Playoffs.
Nielsen spent the 2019/20 season as an assistant coach in Austin and began his coaching career in San Antonio, serving as a player development assistant during the 2014/15 season. In addition, he was an assistant coach with the Spurs Summer League team from 2014-2019.
Prior to making the move to the G League last year, the St Marys Senior High School alumni spent four seasons as an assistant coach with the Perth Wildcats, where he helped guide the club to three NBL championships.
After getting introduced to the game through his mathematics teacher at Penrith High, Nielsen made his professional debut playing with the Sydney Kings as a 17-year-old in 1995.
After nine seasons in the NBL, where he won two championships and was named MVP in 2004, Nielsen moved to Europe and played nine seasons in Lithuania, Greece and Spain.
Nielsen played for Australia from 1997-2012, and represented the Boomers at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Most recently he served as an assistant coach for the Boomers at the Tokyo Olympics where Australia captured Bronze, earning our first ever medal in men’s basketball.
Penrith Youth League basketball coach Jarrod Moore was thrilled to learn of Nielsen’s promotion in San Antonio.
“Unreal to witness another NSW coach continue to put in the effort to impact the world of basketball,” he said.
Nielsen will officially start his new role when NBA Training Camp kicks off on September 28.
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.