FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Fort Wayne Mad Ants head coach Conner Henry was today named the winner of the Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year award as voted by his fellow NBA Development League head coaches.
“I’m so happy for Conner,” said Mad Ants President Jeff Potter. “He has worked unbelievably hard since he arrived in Fort Wayne and the results speak for themselves. He and his coaching staff have put out a phenomenal product for all of the Mad Ants fans, and I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this honor.”
Henry led the Mad Ants to a franchise record and NBA D-League-best 34 victories during the 2013-14 regular season, winning the East Division by six games en route to the team’s first East Division Championship. Fort Wayne won 13 of their last 15 regular season games under first-year head coach Henry, while securing a 15-10 road record, tied for the best in the NBA D-League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
Henry’s Mad Ants featured two players who finished the regular season atop the league’s best scorers, with Ron Howard and Tony Mitchell averaging 20.5 and 20.2 points, respectively. As a team, Fort Wayne ranked third in defensive rating, allowing 102.4 points per 100 possessions.
“This award is all about the team and the rest of the coaches on the coaching staff,” said Henry. “When I joined the Mad Ants staff we had five returning players and three returning coaches that Jeff Potter worked on bringing back from previous seasons. Those guys listened and bought into my message and worked extremely hard over this season and as a result we’ve had success. I’m honored to receive this award on behalf of the Mad Ants organization.”
“Conner has done a terrific job in Fort Wayne this season,” said Chris Alpert, Vice President of Basketball Operations and Player Personnel for the NBA D-League. “Not only was Conner able to develop five young NBA players, but his Mad Ants performed at a high level night in and night out, as evidenced by their impressive 34-16 record and top overall seed in the 2014 NBA D-League postseason. I congratulate Conner on this well-deserved honor and a successful first season in Fort Wayne.”
The Mad Ants advanced to the second round of the 2014 NBA D-League playoffs and will face the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the first game of the best-of-three Semi-Finals tonight in South Dakota.
Drafted by the Houston Rockets in the fourth round of the 1986 Draft, Henry played with Houston, the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings during his two-year NBA career. A 13-year coaching veteran, Henry joined the Mad Ants after two seasons as an assistant coach with the NBA D-League’s Los Angeles D-Fenders.
The award is named in honor of the late Dennis Johnson, NBA Legend and former Austin Toros head coach who was enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in August 2010. In his playing career, Johnson won three NBA titles with the Boston Celtics and Seattle SuperSonics, played in five NBA All-Star games and was named to the All-Defensive First Team six times. He served as interim head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers in 2002, and was in his third season coaching in the NBA D-League when he passed away.