It’s official, Kirk Penney is heading back to the United States, this time to take up a role with the University of Virginia basketball coaching staff. Penney’s official role is Director of Player Development/Coaching Staff Consultant.
With this opportunity, Penney has resigned his position from the Board of Basketball New Zealand. That said, he has agreed to act as a Basketball New Zealand Ambassador, helping to foster relationships within the US. The vacant Board position will not be refilled until the 2020 AGM.
Board Chair, Greg Williamson, says this is a fantastic opportunity for Penney and the Board wish him well.
“Virginia Basketball are lucky to have Kirk join them. He will bring a wealth of knowledge and energy to their programme. We wish him all the very best over there, and we look forward to watching his progress as a coach and leader within the US. Of course, we will remain in close contact with Kirk through his ambassadorial role and are excited about the potential of having an advocate like Kirk in the US.”
Penney says he’s excited about this next adventure.
“I’m really looking forward to returning to the US and joining Tony and the team at Virginia. It was an opportunity too good to pass up!
“Of course I’ll remain in close touch with everyone back in New Zealand. I’m also thrilled to be asked to help Basketball New Zealand as an Ambassador in the US. It’s essential for our sport that we continue to foster great relationships in the US.
“Basketball in Aotearoa is thriving and it’s important that the Kiwi basketball community continues to build the game for future benefit of young Kiwis. The Board of Basketball New Zealand’s mission is ‘a hoop in the heart of every neighbourhood’ – I love that simple idea. Let’s all get in behind it,” says Penney.
Penney’s professional career totaled 15 years. He is the highest capped Tall Black, with his career in the black singlet totaling 175 games. He represented New Zealand at two Olympic Games (2000 and 2004) and four FIBA World Championships (2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014). He was part of the Tall Blacks’ memorable fourth-place finish at the 2002 World Championships in Indianapolis, averaging 16.9 points per game and shooting 45.5 percent from 3-point range. Penney was the second-leading scorer at the 2010 World Championships in Turkey, averaging 24.7 points per game. He ranks 10th all-time in scoring at the FIBA World Cup (formerly known as the FIBA World Championships), scoring 447 points in 27 games (16.6 ppg).
Penney became the second New Zealand native to play in the NBA, appearing with the Miami Heat in 2003 and Los Angeles Clippers in 2005. He also played professionally in Spain, Israel, Lithuania, Germany, Turkey and Australia. Penney attended Westlake Boys High School in Auckland, New Zealand, the same high school as former Virginia captain Jack Salt.
Penney starred at Wisconsin from 1999-2003. He helped the Badgers to the 2000 NCAA Final Four under Dick Bennet, who is the father of current Men’s Basketball Head Coach for Virigina, Tony Bennett. Kirk Penney became the first Badger since 1952 to earn consecutive All-Big Ten first-team honors in 2002 and 2003.
Penney helped the Badgers to a pair of Big Ten titles during his all-league seasons, and Wisconsin advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2003. Tony Bennett was on staff during each of Penney’s four seasons at Wisconsin, including three seasons as an assistant coach from 2001-03.
In the media release put out for Virginia University, Coach Tony Bennet said:
“I am excited to reunite with Kirk and add him to the Virginia basketball family. I have known Kirk for over 20 years and have tremendous respect for him as a person, player and coach. He will make an immediate impact with our program with his knowledge and experience. We are thrilled to welcome Kirk, his wife, Audra, and children, Olivia, Ava and Ben to Charlottesville.”