Thunder Picks New 66ers Head Coach

By Randy Renner

Once again the Oklahoma City Thunder have gone to someone with roots back to the University of Connecticut for a position within the organization.

UConn grad Mark Daigneault has been chosen to take over the 66ers, the Thunder's D-League team formerly located in Tulsa but moving to Oklahoma City for the upcoming season and beyond.

Daigneault has been an assistant coach at the University of Florida for the last four years under Billy Donovan.

The Thunder released the following statement and background information on Daigneault this afternoon.

“Mark has placed a high value on development throughout his career and we feel that he is well aligned with the goals of our organization,” said Thunder GM Sam Presti. “His experience at Florida under Coach Donovan has provided him the platform to apply his intelligence and relationship skills to help strengthen the program. We are excited about Mark joining the organization and continuing his professional growth.”

Last season, the Gators became the first SEC team to go 18-0 in conference play, and during Daigneault’s four years at Florida, the program posted a 120-30 record (.800) while advancing to the Elite Eight each season.

 “Mark has been a valuable member of our staff the past four seasons, and I'm very happy to see him get this opportunity with a great organization,” said Donovan. “We all wish him the best of luck and know he'll do a tremendous job.”

 Prior to arriving at Florida, the Leominster, Mass. native spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Holy Cross.

 “I have had a great deal of respect for the Thunder organization throughout my career, and I'm excited to immerse myself in the culture there, and focus on the continued development of the program,” said Daigneault.  “The University of Florida, Coach Donovan, the Florida basketball staff and players that I had the privilege of working with contributed to my personal and professional growth, and for that I am grateful as I embark on this opportunity with the Thunder organization.”

A 2007 graduate of the University of Connecticut, Daigneault served as a student manager with the Huskies under Jim Calhoun from 2003-07.

Daigneault, who holds a master’s degree in Sports Management from the University of Florida, will replace Darko Rajakovic as head coach of the Thunder’s D-League affiliate.  Amongst multiple front office members and coaches who have been called up from its D-League affiliate, Rajakovic was the third straight head coach of the Thunder’s D-League affiliate to make the move to an NBA bench, after he accepted an assistant coaching position on Scott Brooks’ staff last month.

The 66ers are expected to play their games this season across the street from Chesapeake Energy Arena inside the Cox Center however, those details have not been announced.

The Thunder decided to move the 66ers to OKC after their Tulsa area home, the Spirit Bank Events Center in Bixby, decided not to continue hosting sporting events.

Other staff members and the 66ers roster will be announced later but Thunder 2014 draft picks Josh Huestis and Semaj Christon will play for the 66ers this season and fellow 2014 draft pick Mitch McGary will also likely play at least a few games for the D-League team.