Will Voigt Rumors

Many of Voigt’s players paid for their own flights (and most flew coach) and accommodations. Playing for Team Nigeria is a complete commitment, and Voigt, who is no longer under contract, is hoping that the country will invest more money into the basketball program. “It’s pretty well known we didn’t receive any support. We did this on our own,” Voigt said. “We’ve faced hardships as a team that other teams in our group couldn’t even fathom. The fact that they can get here and be as competitive as they were, I think it speaks volumes to them. “Just something as simple as having food for our players and having a flight to where they’re going and having insurance for our top players may be a huge swing in terms of what we do. I’m just trying to catch my breath, to be honest. We understand that’s not necessarily where the country is right now, but even the smallest level of support can reap huge rewards for what we can do.”
What’s next for Voigt? Nigeria assistant coach John Bryant says Voigt should be coaching in the NBA. Bryant knows what it takes – he’s an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers. “He can coach at any level. I say that without hesitation,” Bryant said. “He should be in the NBA right now of his work ethic and knowledge of the game.”
But those are a just a few interesting details among many of Will Voigt’s global journey from rural Vermont to the Rio Olympics. The son of a Pulitzer Prize finalist in poetry and MacArthur genius (his mom Ellen) and founder of a culinary school (his dad Fran), Voigt has coached in Norway, Denver, Austin, Texas, Bakersfield, Calif., China, Nigeria and Barre, Vt., the one-time home of the minor-league Vermont Frost Heaves. “I’ve been fortunate to have had these opportunities,” Voigt said. “I didn’t set out with a blueprint of how do I get to China? How do I get to Norway? How do I get to Nigeria? It just presented itself. I certainly wasn’t afraid of going somewhere different. The way it’s played out, I don’t think I could have ever predicted.”
Storyline: Olympic Games
The Spanish players noticed the empty crowd while warming up, but weren’t aware what caused it. Inspectors had determined the game could start as scheduled and allowed media and volunteers — who weren’t informed of the situation — to remain in the building while the ticket holders were kept outside. Nigeria coach William Voigt had been briefed, but said it wasn’t the reason for his team’s slow start. “I decided not to really say anything to anyone else,” he said. “I didn’t want it to be a distraction, but I knew and certainly when whatever was detonated went off I think it was something everybody noticed.”
Storyline: Olympic Games
Sometimes even Will Voigt himself can scarcely believe he’s coaching on an Olympic stage in the same tournament as Mike Krzyzewski. Voigt is the head coach of the Nigerian national basketball team, an improbable but hard-earned job for a basketball nomad who has refused to allow a modest playing career to derail his coaching ambitions. “I don’t think I could have ever predicted this,” Voigt said. “It’s hard not to realize the significance when you walk into the Opening Ceremony. I think I’ll have time to reflect on it when we get out of here and I’m not in work mode, but there’s no way I could have seen this coming.”
Storyline: Olympic Games
Voigt’s big break came in 1999 when the San Antonio Spurs offered him a job as a video coordinator. It’s not the sort of job a 23-year-old with so little basketball experience typically lands, but the Spurs have never been afraid to take a chance on someone from a non-traditional background. Plus, Weltman vouched for Voigt to Spurs general manager R.C. Buford and Pomona alums Gregg Popovich and Mike Budenholzer also received rave reviews from folks at their alma mater. “He was young and he was cheap,” Buford joked. “When he was with us, he had a really good relationship with our players. He was able to connect with people. He wasn’t afraid to take a different path and he was very ambitious.”
The Nigerian Basketball Federation came calling two springs ago, soon after Will finished a year-long gig with the Shanxi Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association. Among the dozens of players to come and go through Bakersfield were two Nigerian-Americans—6′ 9″ former NBA lottery pick Ike Diogu, and 6′ 11″ Alade Aminu, whose 6′ 9″ younger brother and former Georgia Tech teammate Al-Farouq Aminu is now an emerging star with the Portland Trail Blazers. They both went to the federation to vouch for Will. So did Ujiri, who from watching him work camps knew, as Will puts it, “I wasn’t a totally random white dude.” In May 2015 he assembled D’Tigers, as the team is known back home, only weeks before the AfroBasket in Tunisia, making sure the players sang the Nigerian anthem at their first practice and every one thereafter. “Our goal was to sing it on the podium,” Will says. “In the past it’s been an issue that so many players are based in America, so it was important for the guys to know who they were playing for.”
Scouting consisted of friends around the world sharing their impressions and odd clips of film. The team’s video coordinator was a UNLV student of Nigerian descent pulled from the stands a few days earlier. “That’s the kind of stuff we deal with,” said Will, who’ll turn 40 during the 2016 Games. “Our mantra last summer was, ‘Eyes on the prize.’ We’re being tested again. We had training camp in Abuja. Rio will seem like Club Med. “No other team is doing it more for love of country than us, because no other team is going through the hardships and sacrifices that our guys are. Credit too to our federation. There’ve been some pretty bleak deadlines and they’ve managed to find a way.”
Storyline: Olympic Games
Will Voigt grew up in Vermont, played college soccer in California and moved to Idaho earlier this summer. But he hasn’t been home much since then, and he won’t be until after the Olympics. He’s been too busy working: Will Voigt is the coach of the Nigerian men’s national basketball team. This is more than the most unexpected job of Voigt’s career. It may be the most unusual marriage of any coach and any country in the entire Olympic Games. “What are the odds,” said Fran Voigt, his father, “that a little white guy from a little town in Vermont who never played college or professional ball would be selected to coach the Nigerian team?”
Voigt’s surprising career in professional basketball began with an internship with the Los Angeles Clippers. It stalled during the 1999 NBA lockout, so he worked for a data-warehousing company. It continued with the Clippers when the lockout ended—but he still kept the job with the data-warehousing company. Then he moved to San Antonio to be video coordinator for the Spurs. At the time, the Spurs’ front office was stocked with future coaches and general managers, and many of them had peculiar backgrounds. Voigt’s was the most unexpected of them all.
But even before then, Voigt became friends with Masai Ujiri, the Nigerian-born general manager of the Toronto Raptors. When Ujiri began setting up basketball camps in his native country, Voigt was one of the first volunteers. He worked camps in Xaria, Abuja and Lagos and impressed Ujiri by venturing to smaller cities hours away on his off days. “A lot of people ask a hundred questions,” Ujiri said, “which you’re supposed to do.” Voigt didn’t. “Will was just, like, ‘Let’s go,’” he said. “He’s one of those explorer types.”
The Nigeria Basketball Federation has selected William B. Voigt ahead of others to lead its campaign at the 2015 Aftobasket Men’s Tournament in Tunisia. Coach Voigt was the Head Coach/General Manager of the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA Development League from August 2009 to July 2014 during which period he won more games than any other Coach in the D-League and helped his team to be regular Season Champions in 2012-2013.
Will Voigt will return for his third season as the Bakersfield Jam Head Coach in 2011-12, the team announced today. In his second season with the Bakersfield Jam, Coach Voigt led the Jam to recognition as the NBA Development League’s biggest turnaround of the 2010-11 campaign. “Will is an asset to our basketball team and our community. He has built an incredible infrastructure for our organization and important relationships with our Jam partners. We are excited about the upcoming season and we believe that Will has positioned our team for continued success on and off the court,” said Bakersfield Jam Managing Partner, David Higdon.