Former Albany Patroon to train new champions

The IMG Academies, the nation’s top youth sports foundation whose previous champions include tennis players like Maria Sharapova, soccer players like Freddy Adu, and basketball stars like Kobe Bryant, now has a Capital District sports connection to its mix of top professional teachers, coaches and managers.

And you might remember him as a legend from the Albany Patroons, a guy who played in the Washington Avenue Armory for several years.  Yep, I’m talking about former Albany Patroon star Kenny Natt.

Natt played with the Patroons from 1984 to 1987, and during his time he worked with fellow patroons Derrick Rowland and Lowes Moore in a series of youth basketball camps.  He was actually on the Patroons’ team in 1986, when Phil Jackson coached a team of CBA All-Stars against the Soviet National basketball team at the Armory.  That’s right… Kenny Natt, Lowes Moore and Derrick Rowland went up against Arvydas Sabonis and the best Soviet players, and almost won.

Natt later became an assistant coach with the Utah Jazz, and was part of the Jazz’ two NBA finals appearances – both times the Jazz faced off against the Chicago Bulls, where former Patroon head coach Phil Jackson was guarding the sidelines.

Natt later became an assistant coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Sacramento Kings, then worked as a head coach overseas.  Last year, he worked as head coach with the senior mens’ basketball team in India.  And today, the IMG Academies has announced that Natt will be their new director of the IMG Academies’ youth basketball program.

You know me.  Any time there’s news of a former Albany pro sports athlete making it big, I’m happy.  And I’m not just talking about whether someone makes it to the major leagues or to the Olympics or whatnot.  I’ve cheered Brad Ausmus in his new stint as the manager of Israel’s entry into the World Baseball League tournament.  I’ve cheered Cale Hulse in his attempt to win a Canadian reality TV show.  And I still think this is the year that Jamario Moon will earn his NBA championship ring.

So when I hear that the IMG Academies have added Kenny Natt to their roster of top coaches and teachers, I’m extremely pleased.  Best of luck, Kenny.  Nice to know that when people want champions in their organizations, they turn to former Albany Patroons and achieve that requested success.