Interview with University of the District of Columbia Head Women’s Basketball Coach John Nakpodia
John Nakpodia was announced as Head Women’s Basketball Coach at the University of the District of Columbia by Director of Athletics Patricia Thomas on May 10th, 2017. Nakpodia, an Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach, Recruiting Coordinator, and Video Coordinator at UDC since October 2015, replaces Juan Dixon, who was announced the new Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Coppin State University.
“John has demonstrated a highly positive attitude towards work, a strong sense of integrity, and discipline. He communicates extremely well and is a proven recruiter. When I spoke with him about this position, he convinced me of his commitment to academics and compliance,” Thomas said. “In addition, he brings continuity to our program and strong ties to the Washington, DC community.”
A Washington, DC native out of St. John’s College HS in Northwest DC, Nakpodia played a pivotal role his first year in helping then head coach DeWayne Burroughs steer the Firebirds to an East Coast Conference Championship Tournament Semifinals appearance, a 21-9 overall record, and a 15-5 East Coast Conference mark in 2015-16. The Firebirds boasted two All-ECC performers that season in First Team guard Tajruba Baldwin-Kollore and Third Team guard/forward Iman Scott.
Nakpodia, as head coach, will inherit a program that returns five student-athletes from last year’s roster in 2017-18. Among them are four freshmen who saw significant playing time and made significant contributions in the 2016-17 season.
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte graduate will also have a talented group of incoming student-athletes next season, which he was instrumental in bringing to UDC.
Among those recruits are Mia Boyd (Kenwood HS) out of Baltimore, MD, Daeja Quick (Cornell HS) from the Pittsburgh, PA area, Natalija Dubrovina (Borough of Manhattan CC) from Serbia, and twin sisters Dana and Danielle Harrington (Battlefield HS) from Prince William County, VA.
Nakpodia also brings to UDC a wealth of prior basketball coaching experience, including coaching at the highest level. Before UDC, he was on staff at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas, NV where he served as an Associate Head Coach/Trainer from August 2014 through June 2015. Nakpodia assisted in the planning and implementation of customized performance programs for all Impact clients, including, but not limited to NBA players, international players, NCAA collegiate athletes and high school athletes. He also organized and facilitated individual and small group practices, fulfilled managerial office and operational duties, and assisted the head trainer with daily tasks including event execution.
Prior to his stint at Impact, Nakpodia was Director of Basketball Operations for the men’s basketball team at Howard University. His responsibilities included game preparation oversight related to video, scouting and other statistical forms of analysis, administering recruiting activities and acting as a liaison between the men’s basketball program and the compliance department, monitoring student-athletes’ academic progress, assisting with team travel logistics, facilitating equipment orders, and helping operate summer basketball camps.
Nakpodia also interned with the National Association of Basketball Coaches at its annual convention in April 2014 and served as Assistant Director of Basketball Operations/Assistant Men’s AAU 16-17 Coach for the Charlotte Reign in 2013.
“John’s prior basketball experiences on the AAU level, with Impact Basketball, as well as on the NCAA Division I level are impressive,” Thomas said. “Also, his steadfastness reminds me of [former UDC head women’s basketball coach] Jay Butler…he will lead our women’s basketball program to the highest levels.”
In addition to his prior coaching work experience, Nakpodia took part in the Jay Bilas Skills Camp Young Coaches Program in 2014 and 2015. The focus of the camp, led by experienced, active coaches, is to provide hands-on, practical instruction to student-athletes looking to elevate their game.
Bilas, who competed for Hall of Fame Coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke University, served as an assistant coach on the Blue Devils’ back-to-back National Championship teams in 1991 and 1992, and then went on to launch a successful law career before becoming a popular analyst on ESPN’s coverage of college basketball, worked with Nakpodia during both of those camps.
“He is an outstanding young coach. John has a great knowledge of and passion for the game, and he’s a hard worker with high standards for himself and his players, on and off of the floor,” Bilas said. “I believe he will do a terrific job as the Head Women’s Basketball Coach of The University of the District of Columbia.”
Also, co-owner of the Jay Bilas Skills Camp and Camp Director, John Searby, had this to say about Nakpodia:
“John has been a part of the Jay Bilas Camp family from day one, and we have enjoyed watching his development as a coach. He is going to bring energy and enthusiasm to the Firebirds’ women’s basketball program that will be contagious. We are very proud to call John Nakpodia a Jay Bilas Skills Camp Young Coaches Program alum.”