Brian Goorjian, a six-time NBL Coach of the Year with as many championships in the league, has signed a two-year deal to become the head coach of the Hawks, the team announced on Tuesday.
The former Australian Boomers coach will take over the role from Matt Flinn, who spent the 2019-20 season at the helm of the LaMelo Ball-led team, finishing with a league-worst 5-23 record.
"I am very excited to have the opportunity to return to the NBL as the head coach of the Hawks," said Goorjian, who's won 70 percent of the 735 NBL games he's coached in.
"I want the fans to know that I am totally committed to putting together a team and staff that the community will get behind and be proud of.
"Over many years I have competed against the Hawks and seen at first hand the passion of their fans. I feel Wollongong and surrounding areas have a very strong basketball following. Their fans are loud and have always shown outstanding loyalty to their team. It's definitely a basketball community and one that I will enjoy being a part of."
Formerly the Illawarra Hawks, the Wollongong-based team was recently bought by a syndicate led by a previous co-owner of the Sydney Kings, Dorry Kordahi; former Philadelphia 76ers general manager, Bryan Colangelo; and American businessman, Michael Proctor.
With NBL Free Agency set to begin on July 1, the new ownership group was quick to make a splash with their head coaching position, bringing in the most experienced coach in the league's history.
"This is an exciting moment for our organization and our fans," Kordahi said. "We have said all along we want to build solid foundations and a program that will be respected.
"Success breeds success and our focus is putting the right pieces in place to achieve this. Having Brian lead the way will give us this...
"We encourage all our loyal and passionate Hawks fans and sports fans in general to get on board for what we believe is going to be an exciting journey ahead."
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Goorjian has been at the helm of five different NBL teams over the course of a coaching career that's spanned more than 30 years, winning two titles with the South East Melbourne Magic (1992, 1996), three with the Sydney Kings (2002-03, 2003-04, 2004-05), and one with the South Dragons (2008-09).
The California-born Goorjian's success in Australia saw him become the Boomers coach from 2001 to 2009, before his career took a turn abroad; the 66-year-old's most recent stint coming with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association.
"Over time, I would like to build a winning culture with a team that is consistently in the top four, that has a chance each year of winning a championship," Goorjian said.
"My immediate priority is to put together a staff that is highly skilled and committed to develop the players. Obviously we are also trying to put together the best possible playing roster. Not only do we want good players, it's just as important to me that they are good people."
Goorjian has spent the majority of the NBL off-season in Melbourne, running make-shift Boomers training sessions for the Australian national team players in the area.
While it remains unclear what's next for Flinn, sources told ESPN that the new ownership group had plans to offer the former Hawks player and coach a community-based role within the franchise.
Reached for comment, Flinn said he hadn't spoken to the Hawks' new ownership group about his future with the team.
"This club is in my DNA," Flinn told ESPN on Monday evening. "I will find out what their vision is if (or) when I chat to them; it was not today.
"I did reach out to Goorjian to wish him the best of success. This is a very surreal situation for me at the moment; I have been with this club for 39 years, and the NBL, (and) tried to help the NBL with LaMelo when no other team wanted to... story for another day.
"I am glad I did help him because I love that kid. It will pay dividends moving forward."
The next step for the Hawks is filling out a roster that's currently extremely thin, with a number of contracts voided as part of the voluntary administration process. The expectation is that Goorjian will run point on the recruitment effort for new players.