Last month, Kansas basketball’s staff took a blow, with the departure of longtime strength and conditioning coach Andrea Hudy. After 15 years in Lawrence, she made the move to Big 12 rival Texas.
Bill Self has hired Hudy’s replacement, and he dipped into NBA ranks to do so. He’s bringing on Dr. Ramsey Nijem, the youngest strength coach in the pros at 28, to be KU basketball’s new “Director of Sports Performance.”
Nijem leaves the Sacramento Kings after five years. Before that, he was on staff at Santa Barbara City College and UC Santa Barbara.
Both Self and Nijem expressed excitement at the new partnership in Kansas’ release on the hire:
“We are excited Ramsey will be joining our staff as our director of sport performance,” Self said. “Having the doctorate and academic background he has, Ramsey should fit very nicely, not only with the men’s basketball program but also with the future of Kansas Team Health. At 28, he’s the youngest head strength coach in the NBA and comes very highly regarded by his peers. He will bring an academic element along with energy, toughness and a track record of working with professional athletes that will also aid us in recruiting.”
“It is an honor and privilege to join the tradition of Kansas basketball,” Nejim said. “I am excited to work alongside Hall of Fame coach Bill Self and his staff while supporting the development of the young men currently on the roster, and the Jayhawks to come. I look forward to working with Kansas Team Health to provide integrated performance services to the men’s basketball program and most importantly be a resource to the student-athletes on and off the court. I am thrilled to join the KU family and Lawrence community.”
Nijem may not be joining the Jayhawks if not for another member of the Kansas basketball family. Former manager Bill Pope, who worked with Nijem as member of the Kings staff, referred him to Self.
“Bill Pope is the one who first told me about him,” Self explained. “And then I checked him out and talked to numerous people after that and everybody had great things to say about him.
Self said a few different people he talked to regarded Nijem as a top five strength coach in the NBA, regardless of his age, and that reputation, along with his academic prowess, inspired Self to get serious about his pursuit.
“Ramsey should fit very nicely, not only with the men’s basketball program but also with the future of Kansas Team Health,” Self said in the release. “(He) comes very highly regarded by his peers. He will bring an academic element along with energy, toughness and a track record of working with professional athletes that will also aid us in recruiting.”
KU’s first exhibition comes on Oct. 24 against Fort Hays State. On Nov. 5, the Jayhawks open the season at Madison Square Garden in New York City against Duke.