Bonzi Wells excited to be part of ‘mentor’ Damon Stoudamire’s staff at Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech men's basketball coach Damon Stoudamire works with his team during a practice.

Credit: Eldon Lindsay/Georgia Tech Athletics

Credit: Eldon Lindsay/Georgia Tech Athletics

Georgia Tech men's basketball coach Damon Stoudamire works with his team during a practice.

Six years ago, Bonzi Wells would drive an hour from his home in Indianapolis to Muncie Central High School, his alma mater, in Muncie, Ind., to volunteer as an assistant coach for the boys’ basketball team.

“I probably missed two practices in four years and that’s when I knew I really loved it,” Wells said. “I knew I had a niche that I could give to the game and, actually, to these kids because I relate a lot to these kids.”

Wells and Georgia Tech coach Damon Stoudamire have known each other a long time. But Wells didn’t just get the opportunity to join Stoudamire’s coaching staff because of a friendship.

An all-American at Ball State and 10-year veteran of the NBA, Well started his coaching journey at the prep level because of Stoudamire’s suggestion to start back in Well’s hometown.

“Coach had challenged me six years ago, if I’m going to be serious about coaching, go volunteer,” Wells said.

Wells, who turns 47 on Thursday, got his first official crack at a paying coaching gig in 2021 when LeMoyne-Owen College, a Division II program, hired him to be head coach. Wells led the Magicians to a 34-22 record in two seasons.

Stoudamire and Wells remained in contact throughout and when Stoudamire was hired by Tech in March the two began discussing the possibility of Wells continuing his coaching career in Atlanta. Stoudamire reached out to Wells in July about joining the Jackets as an assistant coach.

“He’s been my mentor in basketball when I played, he’s also been my coaching mentor since I started coaching about seven years ago. He’s just been challenging me over the last six, seven years to really make sure I love this stuff, work on my craft and if an opportunity ever opened up to make sure my ducks are in a row so he could be able to offer me an opportunity,” Wells said. “That’s the kind of the journey I’ve been on. Just trying to work my hardest to let him know as my mentor that I’m serious about this and I want to take this all the way.”

In January, the NCAA announced men’s basketball program can now have five assistant coaches, up from the previous allowance of three (although two of a team’s five assistants may not recruit off campus). Thus, Stoudamire was able to add Wells and Nate Babcock to his previously announced staff of Karl Hobbs, Terry Parker and Pershin Williams.

Wells, the 11th overall pick by Detroit in the 1998 NBA Draft, who has his No. 42 jersey is retired by his alma mater Ball State, said he is now excited about his role within Stoudamire’s program as, “the resident pro,” a coach who can be a conduit between players and coaches.

“That’s kind of been my niche to the guys. They relate to me,” Wells said. “I can talk to ‘em and I can also get their feedback and then I can feed it back to coach and the staff and what one of these kids may be going through and then we can help them which in turn helps the team, helps the whole program.

“All of our jobs as assistant coaches is we want to make it easier for the head coach. I think we all got clusters of guys, but for me I try to mess with all the guys if I can. They’ll come to me a lot and just ask me different questions and pick my brain a little bit. I just try to be available as much as possible.”