Johnston native Joe Mazzulla is the Boston Celtics’ interim head coach, the team announced at a Friday morning press conference. At 34, Mazzulla will be the youngest head coach in the NBA this season.
Boston’s former coach, Ime Udoka, has been suspended for the 2022-23 season for violating team rules. Udoka reportedly had an intimate consensual relationship with a team staff member.
“Joe’s gonna be in charge. He’s an exceptionally sharp and talented person,” said Brad Stevens, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations. “I believe in Joe’s leadership.”
Mazzulla is about to enter his fourth season on the Celtics bench, and now could be the man in charge.
Read more about the announcement:Rhode Island native Joe Mazzulla has been named the head coach of the Boston Celtics
So, who is Joe Mazzulla?
Mazzulla is from Rhode Island
For Rhode Islanders, Mazzulla is a familiar name, from a well-known basketball family. The Johnston native starred on the court for Bishop Hendricken High School, graduating in 2006.
A Providence Journal All-Stater, he helped the Hawks win three consecutive Rhode Island Interscholastic League championships, beginning in his sophomore year. Mazzulla is also a two-time Gatorade RI Player of the Year at Hendricken (2004 and 2005).
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He is the son of the late Dan Mazzulla, the Bryant University Hall of Famer and longtime coach with the Johnston Panthers.
His younger brother, Justin, joined the men’s basketball staff at the University of Rhode Island as a graduate assistant ahead of the 2022-23 season. Joe Mazzulla was back home in early September to speak at Brown University, participating in a Coaches vs. Cancer clinic hosted by the Bears.
More:Brown University hosts coaches clinic on Sunday on behalf of NABC and Coaches vs. Cancer
College star for West Virginia Basketball
Mazzulla attended West Virginia University and was coached by the legendary Bob Huggins. In 2010, he started against Duke in the NCAA’s Final Four round. He scored 17 points in the regional final when West Virginia upset Kentucky. His team also won the 2007 NIT championship.
He wound up playing 145 games for the Mountaineers when they were in the Big East Conference, and would annually face the Providence College Friars. In his five seasons in West Virginia, he finished with 700 points and 370 assists.
Joe Mazzulla’s coaching experience
After his playing career with the Mountaineers ended, Mazzulla began as an assistant coach at Division II Glenville State College in West Virginia in 2011. He then joined the staff at Division II Fairmont State (2013-16), also in West Virginia.
He returned to New England for the 2016-17 season, working as an assistant under Scott Morrison with the Maine Red Claws, the Celtics’ affiliate in the development league.
His first head coaching job came at Fairmont State where he went 43-17 over two seasons. In his first year as head coach, Mazzulla led the Falcons to a 21-8 overall record (third-place in the MEC). In 2018, he guided his team to the NCAA Tournament with a 22-9 record.
Previous Joe Mazzulla coverage:Mazzulla has come full circle
When did Mazzulla join the Celtics coaching staff
In 2019, then-Celtics head coach Brad Stevens (now the team’s president of basketball operations) gave Mazzulla the opportunity to help coach the NBA team he had followed while growing up in Rhode Island.
“It’s good to be back home,’’ Mazzulla said after his first summer league practice with the Celtics. “I think this move was just a thank you to my hometown for everything that they’ve done for me.”
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Mazzulla has been on the Celtics bench, first alongside Stevens, and last season Udoka, as an assistant. Now it looks like he’ll get a chance to call the shots himself.