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PROFILE Coach Hernando Planells

COURTSIDE UPDATE is prepared and distributed each day by Kris Schindler

of the AAPBL. You can contact her at 316/204-0109 or Kris.Schindler@mac.com

Hernando Planells is proof that you don’t have to be tall to have a career in basketball.

Planells jokes that he’s 5’11" when he wakes up in the morning but only 5’10" by the end of the day. At 28, he’s had an impressivecareer in basketball, despite retiring as a player before his twentieth birthday.

"I tore my knee up playing in junior college," said Planells."I didn’t have any other skills so I went out and found myself a job coaching at a high school in Arizona."

Planells eventually made his way to Los Angeles where a coaching job with SlamBall led to gigs as a basketball choreographer on such films as Coach Carter, The Longest Yard and the recently released Rebound, starring Martin Lawrence.

"Choreographing basketball games for a movie is a lot like coaching real basketball,"said Planells. "You run drills and take timeouts but you know the outcome and you end up winning about 15 or 20 times."

Planells is looking forward to coaching the AAPBL’s Wyoming Golden Eagles. "They pay you really well to work on a film but working with the AAPBL will give me the chance to work on the player/personnel end of the game, which is what I really enjoy," he said.

During the summer league, Planells and the other 9 coaches will lead approximately 130 players through full days of practice,games and classes, including a Life Skills class. "The enthusiasm inside and surrounding this league is amazing. I am proud to be a part of a such a strong league," said Planells.



Golden Eagles coach finds home in Casper

Moments after being introduced as the first head coach of the Wyoming Golden Eagles, Hernando Planells, Jr. (Coach H) tugged on the brim of a tan-colored cap sporting the team's logo.

"I have a big head, so I hope this fits good," he said with a chuckle.

When the cap settled just right, Planells smiled and said, "Oh, very nice!"

All American Professional Basketball League president Worth Christie believes Planells will fit just as well in Casper.

At a Tuesday afternoon press conference inside the Parkway Plaza Hotel and Convention Centre, Planells became the fourth head coach in the 10-team AAPBL, which is scheduled to begin its inaugural season in November.

"The research that he and his wife did on Casper told us that this was, by far, the right guy," Christie said.

The 28-year-old Planells has an extensive background in basketball, including coaching experience at the high school, AAU, junior college and Division IA levels. Most recently, Planells worked for NBA director of scouting Marty Blake, whom Christie said provided rave reviews.

"We get calls and e-mails from probably 25 or 30 people a day looking for opportunities," said Christie, a retired Casper businessman who announced the formation of the AAPBL in January. "Most of 'em, I've never heard of. And that was the case with Hernando. I didn't know who he was."

That day, Christie telephoned a friend who also had worked with Blake.

"I said, 'Get a hold of Marty and see what he says about this guy and see if whether this is somebody we should look at,'" Christie recalled. "And, boy, it wasn't 24 hours later and he called back and Marty's just extremely high on this guy and says he's got one of the best eyes for talent of anybody around."

Although Planells desired to coach in Wyoming -- he and his wife had learned about the AAPBL's 10 cities on the internet and favored Casper -- Christie made initial plans to appoint him as head coach in Pueblo, Colo.

At the time, Christie said, he was confident he'd be able to lure former Casper College coach Pat Rafferty to lead the Golden Eagles.

"Of course, Pat would have been a logical choice for Casper, as opposed to any other place, because of his home ties here," Christie said of Rafferty, who led the Thunderbirds to a sixth-place finish at the 1988 NJCAA tournament. "When Pat decided not to, I said, 'Call Hernando and tell him Casper is open and that he can have it.'"

Planells quickly accepted. He and his wife preferred Casper because they believe it's a safe, quality place to raise their two young children, a 4-year-old son and a 22-month-old daughter.

"I was born and raised in Los Angeles and I know that it's not the ideal place to raise my family," said Planells, who will move his family from the hustle and bustle of the L.A. area to the wide open spaces of Wyoming.

"I did my homework and, honestly, Casper looked good. Obviously, it's a much slower life than what my family is used to do but I think in the end it's gonna pay dividends."

While Planells' No. 1 priority is his family, basketball is a close second.

On the court, Planells said the Golden Eagles will play a fast, fun brand of basketball and give it their all to entertain fans inside the Casper Events Center. Wyoming will play 31 home games, beginning with a Nov. 15 date against Pueblo.

"Everything that I've ever coached has always been pushing the ball," said Planells, whose most recent head coaching job was with the Bouncers on SPIKE TV's Slamball, where basketball is played on a spring-loaded surface complete with trampolines at both ends of the floor. "It's about up-tempo, pressure defense. We need to get personnel who are long, lean, athletic guys who can run all day, who can trap."

To fill the Golden Eagles' roster, Planells said he will talk to NBA general managers, professional agents and other contacts he's made during his coaching career.

The AAPBL also hopes to discover a handful of players at its summer league, scheduled for July 11-22 in Billings, Mont.

The people of Wyoming will be proud of the final product, Planells said.

"This is your team. This is the fans' team," he said. "We want all of you to pack the Casper Events Center and if you do, you'll have a good time. The No. 1 thing is entertaining, and we are gonna be entertaining."

Senior sports reporter Steve Kiggins can be reached at (307) 266-0596 or


n WHO: Hernando Planells, Jr.

n WHAT: First head coach of the Wyoming Golden Eagles of the All American Professional Basketball League.

n AGE: 28.

n COACHING EXPERIENCE: Head coach, Slamball's Bouncers, 2001-02; Staff assistant, UNLV, 2001; Head coach, Los Angeles High School, 1999-2000; Head coach, Immaculate Heart High School, Tucson, Ariz., 1998; Head coach, Monrovia (Calif.) High School, 1997.

n QUOTABLE: "The day that I told him he had the job, I got calls from three GMs in the NBA congratulating us on the hire."

-- Worth Christie, AAPBL president.

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