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The 1999-2000 Missouri basketball team featured 2 future NBA head coaches

Here are today’s Mizzou Links.

The 1999-2000 Mizzou basketball team was a rather unassuming bunch. Quin Snyder’s first Tiger squad went 18-13, reaching the NCAA Tournament but bowing out in the first round against North Carolina.

They got solid, young guard play from Keyon Dooling, Clarence Gilbert, Brian Grawer, and blue-chip freshman Kareem Rush, but they just didn’t have much size. Six-foot-9 JUCO transfer T.J. Soyoye played center by default, and 6’5 Jeff Hafer and 6’6 Johnnie Parker ended up playing quite a bit of PF by necessity.

If you remember anything about that team, it’s probably the backcourt. Dooling, Gilbert, Grawer, and Rush had some stellar moments, perhaps mostly in this wild win over Kansas.

Good times.

As it turns out, however, the most noteworthy people on and around that team were ... pretty much everybody else.

On Wednesday, the Suns announced that they are hiring Igor Kokoskov as their new head coach.

Kosokov has a great coaching track record. Outside of leading Slovenia to a EuroBasket championship, he has plenty of notable names in his resume. Outside of the Seven Seconds or Less Suns with Mike D’Antoni, Kokoskov has worked with Mike Brown (Pistons), Flip Saunders (Pistons), Alvin Gentry (Clippers + Suns), Mike Brown (Cavaliers), and most recently Quinn Snyder (Jazz).

This was a quick decision as Gambadoro also reported Phoenix was “blown away” and made their decision immediately after speaking with him in-person. No other candidates received second interviews.

(Kudos for the very Mizzou typo in Snyder’s first name.)

So between Snyder, Kokoskov, Hammond, and Josh Kroenke, four very important NBA personalities — plus a 200-reception NFL receiver in Gage, a future doctor in Soyoye and, of course, two future NBA players in Dooling and Rush (who scored a combined 7,280 points) — were all members of that 1999-00 team. We thought at the time that we were witnessing the beginning of some impressive careers, and evidently we were. But it took some crazy twists and turns to get there.

By the way, Kokoskov’s story is pretty incredible. From the original release announcing his hire:

Igor Kokoskov, a former basketball player on the Yugoslavian National Team, and current assistant coach for Yugoslavia’s Junior National Team, will be the newest member of the Missouri men’s basketball coaching staff. Kokoskov, who is currently an assistant for Belgrade Partizan, will join the staff upon completion of his coaching duties at the European Championships, as announced today by Missouri Head Coach Quin Snyder. [...]

Kokoskov spent much of last year at Duke University observing the men’s basketball team, where he first formed his relationship with Snyder. Snyder was immediately impressed with Kokoskov’s knowledge of the game. “He’s a great teacher and has a depth of understanding of the basketball fundamentals, something I know is a trademark of international basketball,” Snyder said.

Kokoskov is looking forward to joining the team. “I am honored by the confidence Quin Snyder has shown in me as a coach,” he said. “I promise to justify that trust with my professionalism, conduct and enthusiasm. I am thrilled with the opportunity to coach at the collegiate level and am excited to come to Missouri,” Kokoskov said.

Excited about the diversity of his staff, Snyder believes Kokoskov’s addition reflects the strength of international basketball. “We’re trying to formulate a staff that can serve our players both on and off the floor. I’m looking for talented coaches that bring unique gifts to Missouri, and I believe Igor has much to offer our group.”

Kokoskov came to the states as a 26-year old European assistant, observed Duke for a while, and met the guy who would help him become an NBA head coach 19 years later. It’s all about networking, kids.

Yesterday at Rock M

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