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From LO to UP to Spurs

Former Pilots center Ben Sullivan soaks up video job with San Antonio


by: TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Ben Sullivan (left), in a 2004 game against Oregon, shoots for the Portland Pilots and over the defense of the Ducks' Mitch Platt.SAN ANTONIO — Ben Sullivan has taken an important first step with his aspirations to enter the NBA coaching fraternity.

The former University of Portland center is in his second season as San Antonio's assistant video coordinator, working closely with the Spurs' coaching staff.

"I love it," says Sullivan, 29, a Lake Oswego High graduate who played for the Pilots from 2004-07. "It's a great situation to jump into. The Spurs are a tremendous organization. The opportunity to be around guys like (assistant coaches) Chad Forcier and Chip Engelland and all the players we have … I'm just trying to soak up as much as I can."

Sullivan got the job on a recommendation from another San Antonio assistant, Ime Udoka, with whom he became acquainted playing basketball in the summers in Portland.

"They were looking for a guy who could help out in the video department," Sullivan says. "I fit the description."

Part of Sullivan's duties is to help with pre-game shooting drills for Spurs players.

"Ben is well-liked and has been well-received by the players," Forcier says. "He's doing a fantastic job for us. When he came in last year, he had a lot to learn in terms of figuring out the culture and how we like to do what we do. But he's a quick study, a hard worker with a great personality. He's been an important addition for us."

Another University of Portland grad -- Erik Spoelstra -- has done all right for himself after starting as video coordinator with the Miami Heat.

"I'd love to be (an NBA) coach some day," Sullivan says. "To follow in the footsteps of somebody like that would be a dream."