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Where Are They Now: Doug West

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Catching up with our old friend, Doug West.

Part 2 of our 220 part, soon-to-be-award-winning, series: Where are they Now—Doug West edition.

This is the logical next step for the series. Doug West was the second player taken by the Wolves in their first-ever draft. That’s ignoring the expansion draft, and Gary Leonard (sorry Gary), but you can’t blame us for that. Dougie is much more significant.

West is the 5th leading scorer for the Wolves all-time, played with the team from ‘89 - ‘98, participated in the ‘92 dunk contest, and, most importantly, did things like this:

I was an early bloomer. I was 6’3”, 130 pounds by 6th grade. Just an awkward, lanky skeleton walking through the halls of Valley Middle School, threatening to cut people with my elbows every time I posted up on the low block (think Sean Bradley but worse).

But I dreamed of being like Doug West. I was mesmerized by his hops. I would watch him take off from the baseline to throw down a nasty dunk, vowing that I would have the same sort of super human abilities. That I would, one day, take off from the free-throw line, dunk in everyone’s face, and salute an admiring Doug West in the Apple Valley High School stands.

Head-to-head comparison:

Doug West: 6’6”, 200 pounds, jumping abilities: this...

Vegter21: 6’4”, 200 (ish) pounds, jumping abilities: Touched the rim once in high school.

That’s okay. At 35, I’ve finally accepted that my professional basketball career isn’t going to happen. I’ve been able to cope by watching the athletic exploits of KG, of Pooh, and of course Mr. Doug West.

Doug originally came to the Wolves through Villanova. He was taken 38th overall in the ‘89 draft. Doug didn’t get much playing time until ‘91-’92 when he was a regular starter. He averaged 14 ppg, participated in the slam dunk competition, and was the Timberwolves Defensive Player of the Year.

Poster city, folks.

Side note: Vegter21’s research labs have determined that the subject being posterized is A.C. Green. Byron Scott was #4 during this time, but I think that there’s a ‘5’ hiding in shame from being dunked on so hard. Please correct me if the research labs are off-base.

Some detractors might say that Doug wasn’t that great at anything other than dunking ... Aaaand they’re probably correct in that opinion. His best season was ‘92-’93 where he averaged 19.3 ppg. He also shot .087 from three, averaged 3 rebounds and 3 assists per game to go along with 2 turnovers and 3.5 personal fouls. But we’re not here to judge him for that. We’re here to remember those high flying 90’s and to see what he’s been up to since his days in the friendly confines of the Target Center.

Doug left in 1998 when he was traded to the Vancouver Grizzlies for Anthony Peeler. He spent three more seasons with them, providing a veteran presence before retiring in 2001. What would life hold for Doug after the NBA? Maybe his trading card can give us an idea...

That mustache is so smooth, but would it lead to a career in the broadcasting booth? Would he lean on his communications degree?

No. No, he would not. Doug left behind his broadcasting desires, opting for something much more rewarding. He wanted to impart his basketball wisdom upon the youth. Doug wanted to be a coach.

From 2001 - 2003, Doug was an assistant coach for Canon-McMillian High School in Pennsylvania (let’s go Big Macs!!!). From there, he was the athletic director for a school in West Virginia before heading to the Duquesne ‘Lady Dukes’ women’s basketball team in 2006. He spent a year there, honing his chops, before entering the big-time. Doug wanted to go back to where it all began. Where he was a star. Villanova was calling...

Doug was an assistant coach for the Villanova men’s basketball team from 2007 - 2012. Let’s examine what happened with his arrival:

‘07 - Second round: Lost to Kentucky

‘08 - Sweet 16: Lost to Kansas, eventual National Champion

‘09 - Final Four: Led by senior power forward, future All-Hustle Team Wolf, Dante Cunningham, the Wildcats lost in the semifinal round to North Carolina, eventual National Champion. This is what Doug had to say about the experience, and a little extra blurb about Minnesota.

He stayed with his alma mater until 2012 when he joined the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, a D-League affiliate of the Houston Rockets. Side note: If you haven’t had a chance to review the team names of the D-League, please take a moment to entertain yourself. Here are the Vegter21 research lab’s top 3:

  1. Fort Wayne Mad Ants
  2. Los Angeles D-Fenders
  3. Maine Red Claws

He only spent one year with the Valley Vipers, where he helped coach the team to a D-League championship. Doug’s coaching career was ascending. It was only a matter of time before a big league team came a-calling.

But Doug went a different route. He wanted to be closer to home. He wanted to get out of the assistant’s shadow and run a program as he saw fit. So he headed back to his home state of Pennsylvania, to be the head coach of the 2015-2016 Penn State University - Altoona Lions.

One year is not enough to sufficiently mold a program in your image, but Doug attempted to do so. He took a struggling program, mired in a 5-20 season in 2014-15, to a 7-15 record the next year. Two more wins and five less losses is a major step forward for a program. I’m not sure why they played two less games, but let’s look over that for the time being.

Unfortunately, it would be a one-and-done performance for him in the D-III college game. He resigned in 2016 to get even closer to home. This is what the University had to say about his departure:

"We appreciate Doug's efforts as our men's basketball coach during the past year. He was a positive influence on our student-athletes, and our program has benefited from his leadership. We understand his connection to Altoona Area High School and his commitment to the youth in the local area, and we recognize that this is an opportunity for Doug to give back. We will miss him and wish him the best."

In May of 2016, Doug went way, way back and opted to become the head coach for his alma, alma mater (pretty sure that’s a thing), Altoona Area High School. He’s currently teaching classes, gearing up for a December 9th game against Baldwin High School, and heading up Doug West Basketball Program.

Look at how much fun he’s having:

It’s great to see Doug doing what he does best. The enthusiasm that I saw as a freakishly tall adolescent is now being passed down to future generations. I’m hopeful that he will encourage future Altoona superstars to sign with the Timberwolves as free agents during their upcoming 10-year championship run. As a Wolves legend, it’s the least that he can do.

It’s great to catch up with you, Mr. Doug West. We hope that your move to Altoona brings you continued success.

More to come...