Mick Cronin has added an international touch to his coaching staff, hires Ivo Simovic as his new assistant Friday in a move meant to bolster UCLA’s recent history of robust player development while bolstering its overseas recruiting efforts.
Simovic, 43, has extensive experience in the college, European and NBA ranks, having served as an international scout for the San Antonio Spurs. Most recently, he served as an assistant coach at Loyola University in Maryland for the past four seasons, signing Spanish forward Santi Aldama. After two seasons at Loyola, Aldama became the school’s first player selected in the first round of the NBA draft.
A native of Belgrade, Serbia, Simovic (pronounced sim-oh-VITCH) also made coaching stops at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the University of Hartford. He replaces Michael Lewis, who left after the end of last season to become Ball State’s head coach.
“We wanted to find the best coach available who would be the right fit for UCLA, so we took our time and diligently searched the basketball world,” Cronin said in a statement. “Certainly, international recruitment is one of its strengths. But we know he’s very good at building relationships, and that will be key for us when you talk about team building, player development and recruiting. We are very happy to add Ivo to our coaching staff.
Besides being fluent in English, Serbian and Spanish, Simovic can also speak Croatian and Bosnian.
He was head coach and sporting director of CB Espacio Torrelodones in a Spanish professional league from 2007 to 2009, helping the organization find top talent while serving an additional stint as general manager and head coach of its teams. under 18 and under 20.
Simovic started his career in his hometown of Belgrade as a head coach and scouting coordinator for Red Star, a founding member of the Adriatic Basketball Assn. who would win the 2004 Serbian championship under the management of Simovic. He coached several players in junior and senior national teams for Serbia and Montenegro which won European championships.
Knocking down talent from regions around his homeland to be part of his role in his new position.
“My family and I are very happy to be part of the Bruins family,” Simovic said in a statement. “I am especially grateful for this opportunity provided by Coach Cronin, and I look forward to being part of his coaching staff and learning from him. I will do everything in my power to help our team and represent UCLA with a high level of integrity and pride. It is absolutely an honor for me to join this historic basketball program.