When they were together on the Boston Celtics coaching staff, Aaron Miles believed that fellow assistant coach Damon Stoudamire – whom he had known for years through their shared hometown of Portland, Oregon – was happy in his role. But he also knew that eventually Stoudamire would leave the Celtics to take a job as a head coach.

“Obviously, sooner than later, he would have been a head coach in the NBA, as well,” Miles told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Sunday. “But I know that a great opportunity presented itself in Georgia Tech, (he) took a look at it and it lined up with what he wanted.”

Stoudamire is now about a month and a half into that role as head coach at Tech, while Miles continues as an assistant coach with the Celtics, who took care of the Hawks Sunday at State Farm Arena to take a 3-1 lead in their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series. Prior to that game, Miles, who like Stoudamire joined the Celtics prior to the 2021-22 season, touted Stoudamire’s experience as an NBA coach and player and his interpersonal skills, as did fellow Celtics assistant coach Ben Sullivan.

The three of them helped Boston transform from a .500 team in the 2020-21 season into NBA finalists last year and favorites to hoist the trophy this season.

“He just has a great way about him, his presence,” Sullivan, a Hawks assistant coach in the Mike Budenholzer era, told the AJC. “He’s comfortable in a lot of different situations and environments. He knows the game at a high level from the youth program all the way to the NBA. He understands players and can see their path, their growth and their development. I think he’ll help a lot of guys.”

Two players Stoudamire helped were Celtics stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, relying on his experience of his 13-season NBA playing career.

“Damon was a hell of a player, but he wasn’t a ‘star’ star player,” Miles said. “So he understood how teams would line up against certain, quote, unquote, stars in the league. I think giving them that information, and then just being able to just understand what they’re going through just in general.”

Tatum, the four-time All-Star, confirmed Miles’ assessment.

Stoudamire’s biggest benefit, Tatum said, was “just getting the perspective of somebody that played in the league for a very long time. And just having somebody on the bench that knows the ins and outs of the everyday of being in the NBA.”

Celtics guard and Atlantan Malcolm Brogdon, recently named Sixth Man of the Year, said he benefited from Stoudamire’s feel for the game both in practices and in the midst of games.

“He’s a player’s coach,” Brogdon said. “He understood what it took to play in this league and to thrive in this league, so I really enjoyed being coached by him.”

Having the knowledge and experience was only part of his effectiveness with the Celtics.

“He played the game, played at a high level, understands what goes into the game, not only as a coach but as a player,” Sullivan said. “But really most of it is the care factor. He cares about the guys and wants to see them grow. When you have that kind of investment in each person, it goes a long way. It’s about growth and development.”

Said Miles, “Guys can relate to him.”

Being able to tell stories about the NBA will carry Stoudamire only so far with Yellow Jackets players and recruits. But the strengths that Miles and Sullivan saw – an understanding of the game, firsthand knowledge of what it takes to make it to the NBA and succeed and a passion for helping develop players – figure to serve him well at Tech as he begins to develop his program.

“He’s going to be a strong recruiter,” Miles said. “I’ve got a 14-year-old son right now. (Stoudamire) is somebody I’d be like, ‘Hey, I want my son playing for them.’ So definitely. Just his character, first and foremost. His ability to relate to anybody, for the most part. He’ll be a great recruiter and coach in general. His knowledge of the game, it’s great.”