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IMG Academy's new basketball director Kenny Natt boasts NBA background

Kenny Natt coached under Phil Jackson and Jerry Sloan and served as the interim head coach of the Sacramento Kings during the 2008-09 season.
Kenny Natt coached under Phil Jackson and Jerry Sloan and served as the interim head coach of the Sacramento Kings during the 2008-09 season.

BRADENTON -- The paint smells fresh as young basketball players break in the new hardwood.

The new building is the latest addition to IMG Academy, which has doubled its basketball gym size from four courts to eight.

And it's an appropriate time for the glistening courts to open up to academy players.

Why?

Because IMG's basketball director is starting to settle into his new gig.

Kenny Natt has taken over a position vacated by Andy Borman, and he has all the credentials to keep IMG's system chugging along a path that has produced two Division I players in the past two years.

DeAndre Daniels chose the University of Connecticut over a host of other schools two years ago, and Kamari Murphy picked Oklahoma State this past year.

Those post-grad players came to IMG to sharpen their skills under Borman's leadership.

But Borman is gone, and Natt has arrived.

His resume speaks for itself.

Natt played professionally for nine years before shifting into coaching, where he learned under legendary coaches Phil Jackson and Jerry Sloan.

Natt said he received a call from Jackson in October 1985 to join him in Albany, N.Y., on the staff of the CBA Patroons.

It was a call that altered Natt's basketball path.

"I became a student of the game and really learned how to coach, following other coaches," Natt said, "and reading what they were doing both offensively and defensively. I gave more attention to that, even as a player late in my career. So I knew coaching was something that I really wanted to do."

A native of Bastrop, La., Natt grew up in the shadows of his brother, Calvin, the No. 8 pick in a 1979 NBA draft that featured Magic Johnson as the top selection. But Kenny found his way to the NBA and kept himself in the league after his playing days were over.

The leadership role in the CBA under Jackson's guidance became Natt's introduction to coaching.

That led to an assistant coaching stint with the Utah Jazz under Sloan in the 1990s.

Natt was there for two heartbreaking NBA Finals defeats against Jackson's Chicago Bulls and some guy named Michael Jordan.

He also was an assistant coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the formative years of LeBron James and was the interim head coach for the Sacramento Kings during the 2008-09 season.

Then came Natt's biggest project to date, becoming the head coach of the Indian national team. When Natt arrived, there were no indoor gymnasiums, just outdoor courts.

Cricket is the sport of choice in India, not basketball.

But what India lacked in facilities, it more than made up for in enthusiasm.

"There's lots of interest there," Natt said. "I was blown away by that."

And that eagerness allowed Natt to improve India's basketball infrastructure and led to the current opportunity before him.

"When I accepted the job, I was hoping that at some point there would be an IMG opportunity," Natt said.

IMG women's basketball director and national team head coach Shell Dailey, a former WNBA coach, is excited about Natt's arrival.

"When you think of IMG Academy, you think of that caliber of person that you would want in a program," Dailey said. "So I think with his personality and experience, I think he's going to do great things here."

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