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NBL Melbourne United Head Coach Dean Vickerman

I had the chance to chat with one of Australia's best coaches, Dean Vickerman! A rare opportunity and thanks coach for your time and for being so giving with your knowledge. Dean Vickerman has been coaching professional basketball for over two decades, yes that is right 20 years of coaching! In those years Dean has worked in Singapore, New Zealand and of course Australia where he is currently the head coach of the NBL team Melbourne United, a position he has been in since 2017. So far in his time in the NBL Dean has won three championships as head coach (2015, 2018, 2021) has won four championships as an assistant coach (2006, 2011, 2012, 2013) as well as twice being awarded the Lindsay Gaze Trophy for NBL Coach of The Year (2017, 2018) and the NZNBL Coach of The Year (2009, 2011). That is one heck of a portfolio and Dean continues his success and maintains his drive still today, the current NBL reigning champions and this years regular season ladder leaders! Enjoy the short Q&A with the legend.

NBL Melbourne United head coach Dean Vickerman
Image Credit: Tiarna Rose

Two decades of coaching basketball in the Asia Pacific, you have seen the game from so many different places and perspectives. How has the experience been for you?

"Basketball has been the driver in allowing me, a country Victorian kid to see the world and gain an understanding of other cultures to broaden my perspective as both a person and coach. Living and coaching in both Singapore & New Zealand led to my biggest growth as both basketball and living was done differently to my upbringing."

You’ve won Coach of The Year twice previously, you once again have the best regular season record this year and you have done it with basically an all Australian line up. Do you feel like the Coach of The Year award is something that may be coming for you for a third time?

"No! Scott Roth should win coach of the year. Being with the Slingers as an NBL expansion franchise was an amazing challenge and we made playoffs but the Tasmanian Jack Jumpers have done it right and Scott should be rewarded for his efforts."

The NBL is now seeing many athletes and coaches transition from the NBL to the NBA. Yourself, you are seeing it all first hand with your Melbourne United players. How do you see the NBL in comparison to other countries outside of America and is the NBA a goal for you in the future?

"The NBL plays faster than other leagues around the world and we promote individuals skills of players to create an advantage on the offensive end. I love that the NBL has become closer to the NBA with the NBL x NBA pre season games, along with the Next Star Program. One of my greatest highlights is having a shot to win against Oklahoma City Thunder with Melbourne United."

Through your own experience and in your study of other coaches, what do you think makes a great basketball coach? What skill set, approach or quality do you think is the most important?

"Team first mentality! A want to live the team trademark everyday. An ability to build strong relationships with players. Clear, honest communication style. An ability to allow both players, assistants coaches and performance staff to have ownerships for areas of the program. A work ethic of whatever it takes to win (time & hard conversations). An ability to enjoy the process of developing everybody with the program."

What advice do you have for young players still going through their junior development who have aspirations to play professional basketball and make a living from the sport?

"You will only make it if you are self motivated to be great and have a plan to achieve it."

In the last five years of your coaching career who would you say is the most valuable basketball athlete you have coached and why?

"Chris Goulding! He sees everything going on in the program, both positive and negative. That vision allows us to continue to improve. On court he is a killer and loves big moments."

What is your most favourite memory of basketball so far in your lifetime?

"Winning a championship on the buzzer with NZ Breakers."

If you didn’t have a career in coaching basketball, what career path would you most likely have followed otherwise?

"Coaching footy."

What has been the biggest hurdle/struggle you have had to overcome so far in your career?

"To repeat! I have won three championships as a head coach but I haven't been able to go back to back."

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would that be?

"Life Balance."


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