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Jazz notes: Ex-guard Vaughn reborn as a Spurs coach

Published January 27, 2011 5:27 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Jacque Vaughn is alive, well and still winning in San Antonio.

Vaughn was a Jazz first-round draft pick who spent four of his 12 NBA seasons in Utah.

A point guard from Kansas, Vaughn played on the Spurs team that beat Cleveland in the 2007 NBA Finals.

Vaughn eventually played his final three seasons with the Spurs and retired in 2009.

He joined Gregg Popovich's coaching staff this year and has watched the Spurs rise to the top of the Western Conference.

"When I decided I was done playing, I took a year off to spend with my family and transition to a career I thought I'd be good at," Vaughn said Wednesday night.

Beyond Utah and San Antonio, Vaughn also played with Atlanta, Orlando and New Jersey in the NBA.

"I always looked at the game in a different light than other players," he said. "I felt I could always translate with guys across any spectrum. It's been a good challenge for me and I've been enjoying it."

Vaughn hopes to stay in coaching.

"I love it, I really do," he said. "Playing was a dream come true. It was a thrill and this challenge is also a thrill for me.

"The day-in and day-out preparation, I love doing. I still get excited for the games. I still love practice. So I'm glad to be around, for sure."

Vaughn receives an enthusiastic endorsement from Popovich.

"He's a class act," the Spurs coach said. "... He's got a great worth ethic. He gets along with everybody. We were just thrilled to add him to the program. He's going to be a big-time guy. He's going to be a head coach in this league."

Rookies' colleges struggling this season

It's been a doubly difficult stretch for Utah rookies Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Evans.

Not only have the Jazz struggled recently, but so have their colleges. Butler is 14-7 overall and 6-3 in the Horizon League after an overtime loss at home to Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Last season, Hayward led the Bulldogs to a record of 33-5, including 18-0 in the conference.

Butler reached the NCAA championship game, where it lost to Duke, 61-59.

"They're frustrated," Hayward said. "I talked those guys a lot and they are frustrated just like [the Jazz] are frustrated. ...

"But they'll be fine. They still have the tournament. Hopefully, they can pick it up when the tournament season comes around."Meanwhile, Western Kentucky is only 7-11, although the Hilltoppers have won their last two games.

Last year, Evans led Western Kentucky to a 21-13 record and into the finals of the Sun Belt Conference tournament.

"I'm keeping up with them a little bit, but not as much before they started losing," Evans admitted.

Kirilenko back in the starting lineup

After a two-game absence, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan returned Andrei Kirilenko to the starting lineup against the Spurs.

Hayward started in Saturday's 96-85 loss at Philadelphia.

C.J. Miles started in Tuesday night's 120-91 loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles.

"... We were still winning some games before we started making changes," Sloan said. "So we'll go back to that and see how it goes."

luhm@sltrib.com