Mike Balado and Kimani Young will be the first to join Richard Pitino’s staff, the University of Minnesota officially announced on Wednesday.
Both are in Minnesota currently, and are expected to start immediately, as Wednesday was Pitino’s first official day on the job. Balado and Young were both assistants at FIU under Pitino prior to joining the Gophers.
“I am excited about the additions of coach Balado and coach Young to our staff at Minnesota,” Pitino said in a news release. “Both of these guys played a huge part in our turnaround at Florida International. They are well-respected within the coaching community as terrific recruiters and leaders of student athletes.”
Young was convicted in 1999 of felony possession of marijuana, which was confirmed through a court document search and was written about here. In that story, from 2005, it says Young was arrested for possession of 96 pounds of marijuana.
“I spent one year in the federal prison in Allenwood, Pa.,” Jones was quoted as saying in that story. “It was a humbling experience.
Gophers AD Norwood Teague was up-front about Young's past in a statement separate from the news release:
"Kimani Young is an outstanding addition to the University of Minnesota and its men’s basketball program. President Eric Kaler and I each spoke at length with College Presidents and Athletic Directors at schools employing Coach Young and received assurances that Kimani was a positive influence and leader for their programs and student-athletes. Coach Young’s mistake, more than 14 years ago, was an aberration in an otherwise positive and stable life. He has been an upstanding leader in every university community he has worked and lived since that time.”
In an earlier appearance on “The Tim Brando Show" on SiriusXM’s College Sports Nation on Wednesday, Pitino noted the importance of selecting a good staff.
“The staff is key,” he said in that interview. “Every team that you see that wins, normally they have a great staff. So I’ve got to get the right pieces. ... That’s very much a top priority for me right now.”
Pitino obviously liked what he saw from the pair last season – but in its current construction, the staff is still relatively inexperienced. It will be interesting to see what direction he goes as he fills out the staff with other pieces.
A little more about the pair announced today:
- Spent three seasons as an assistant at High Point University before joining Pitino at FIU last year.
- Previously worked as a graduate assistant in player development at the University of Miami and as an assistant at Florida Atlantic and Miami Dade College.
- St. Thomas (Miami) grad and former basketball player. Has a degree in psychology.
- Worked for two stints (2006-08 and 2009-12) at New Heights Youth, Inc. in New York City.
- In between, Young spent a season at St. John’s Unversity as the program’s head team manager and video coordinator.
- Has served as the center director for the Police Athletic League of NYC, as a therapeutic recreation assistant at Jewish Board of Family Children Services Kaplan House and as program director of Aim High Foundation/S. Carter AAU program in Brooklyn.
- UTEP grad and former player (becoming just one of 22 all-time players to reach the 1,000 points plateau) under Don Haskins. Degree in criminal justice.