(KCAU) — Basketball coaches will tell you in some cases, it’s not hard to pick out players with pro potential, but there are many ways to make an impact in the NBA and a former Sioux City prep is proving the point.
The Maple Timbers that make up a basketball court offer a neutral and unbiased stage for competitions.
“His ability to get along with the highest-paid players, the general manager, and head coach. Those are all things you better be able to do or you’re not around very long,” said Sioux City East boys’ basketball coach Ras Vanderloo.
And winning can be defined in many ways.
“When I was in high school, I saw my basketball career ending after highs school. As a high school player, I was not envisioning being in the NBA,” said Andrew Munson.
But he is. The unexpected path that 2012 Sioux City East High School graduate Andrew Munson took to the NBA, actually started 20 years ago at his dad’s side.
“I would not have had any inkling of trying to make a career in basketball without my dad building that love for the game and coaching me,” said Munson. “My teams for East were very good. Those guys did heavy lifting and allowed me to shoot a lot of threes. I had a lot of fun with the team.”
In college, Munson was on the bench again, this time as manager.
“Tyler Vanderloo, Alex Clean, both managers in college gave me an idea. Tyler and Ras helped me get a manager’s job at Iowa and here I am.
Here, is in the top level of the NBA Denver Nugget’s front office.
Munson says, “My title is special assistant to the head coach.
“He’s so valuable. It’s not just me saying that. If you ask any of the coaches, he is a jack of all trades. If you need something done, he’s not only going to get it done but get it done at a very high level. His work ethic is outstanding. This year more than any he has been influential with our offense,” said Nuggets Head Coach Mike Malone.
The 27-year-old Munson is in his 5th season with the 2020 Western Conference runner-up.
“We play 72 games this year that’s a lot. (I’m) not a math major but that’s a lot of games to get of the other teams we are about to play,” said Andrew.
In-season, Munson says he will spend as many as 100 hours a week “on the job” practicing, traveling, and watching a lot of videos.
“My responsibilities are helping coaches get game film to prepare a scouting report. During the game I’m back in the office, breaking down as we get all the play calls, opponents play calls,” Munson says.
Not the fastest or strongest player, Munson has always scored points from the cerebral side of the game.
“You can tell a kid like that his academic background is incredible. I’ve always thought he should be on Wall Street and not the NBA but he’s doing pretty good,” says Ras Vanderloo.
“At first it was overwhelming. Even in the NBA, it felt like a good foundation of basics and concepts,” Munson says.
The stage may be bigger.
“It did take a year or two to understand what was going on basketball-wise. It felt like a different sport. With the Nuggets I was grateful to have that base from my high school coaches helped ground me when it felt overwhelming,” Munson says.
The stage may be bigger but the environment, Munson says is amazingly similar.
“It doesn’t feel like coming to work with NBA superstars. It feels just like coming to practice for coach Loo at SC East,” says Munson.
What’s ahead for Munson is unknown. Just like the journey that delivered him to the pinnacle of basketball.
“One step at a time. Big picture I’d love to be an assistant coach may be a head coach someday if I’m lucky enough. I think back to that little kid sitting behind the bench. If I had told that kid that he was going to be working for the Denver Nuggets in the NBA, he would have been pretty happy,” Munson said.
If you know someone with a unique talent or little known skill that others might enjoy hearing about, KCAU 9 wants to know them as well. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Siouxland Stories” and briefly explain what it is that this person does that is so interesting. Don’t forget to watch those stories when they air on KCAU 9 News.