Buena Vista University graduate Nate Bjorkgren has been hired as head coach of the Indiana Pacers.
Bjorkgren continues a career path that has taken him from his days as a guard with the BVU Beavers to the NBA title, one he earned as an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors in 2019.
Bjorkgren, who led the Storm Lake Tornadoes as a senior in 1993 to a 17-4 mark, helped his hometown Beavers break a 21-year title drought by winning the Iowa Conference Basketball Championship in 1997.
Following his BVU graduation in 1998, Bjorkgren taught and coached basketball at Linn-Mar and Sioux Central high schools.
He went on to Cave Creek, Ariz., where Bjorkgren coached high school basketball for five seasons, earning a Region Championship at Cactus Shadows High School, the team’s first in 20 years.
He landed Arizona High School Coach of the Year accolades.
He then relocated to Des Moines to work as a volunteer assistant coach under Nick Nurse, a native of Carroll who was then head coach of the Iowa Energy in the NBA’s Developmental League.
Bjorkgren coached with Nurse for four seasons in Des Moines, and together, they helped the Energy win a D-League crown in 2011.
Other coaching stops in the D-League followed, encompassing a head-coaching run that featured one league title, two title appearances, an NBA D-League record seven straight playoff berths, five divisional crowns, and the D-League Showcase Cup Championship.
The Phoenix Suns hired Bjorkgren as an assistant coach in 2015.
He was with Toronto when Nurse became the Raptors’ head coach in 2018.
Nurse tapped Bjorkgren to be an assistant, joining him on the bench, ultimately helping steer the club to its first NBA title.
Shortly after the team ended its COVID interrupted season, the Pacers front office interviewed Bjorkgren for their head coaching position.
In piloting the Pacers, Bjorkgren, 45, joins the late Jim Fanning as BVU alumni to serve as a head coach or manager in the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, or Major League Baseball.
Fanning, a 1951 BVU graduate, managed the Montreal Expos to the National League Championship Series in 1981.