UCLA’s Mick Cronin hires Ivo Simovic in move that could boost international recruiting

Ivo Simovic claps during a game.
Ivo Simovic is the newest member of Mick Cronin’s UCLA men’s basketball coaching staff.
(Courtesy of UCLA)

Mick Cronin has added some international flavor to his coaching staff, hiring Ivo Simovic as his newest assistant Friday in a move intended to sustain UCLA’s recent history of robust player development while also bolstering its recruiting efforts overseas.

Simovic, 43, has extensive experience in the college, European and NBA ranks, having served as an international scout for the San Antonio Spurs. Most recently, he was an assistant coach at Loyola University Maryland for the last four seasons, recruiting power forward Santi Aldama from Spain. After two seasons at Loyola, Aldama became the first player from the school selected in the first round of the NBA draft.

A native of Belgrade, Serbia, Simovic (pronounced sim-oh-VITCH) also made coaching stops at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the University of Hartford. He replaces Michael Lewis, who left after the end of last season to become the head coach at Ball State.


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“We wanted to find the best coach available who would be the right fit for UCLA, so we took our time and diligently searched the basketball world,” Cronin said in a statement. “Certainly, international recruiting is one of his strengths. But we know that he’s very good at building relationships, and that will be vital to us when you talk about team building, player development and recruiting. We are very excited to add Ivo to our coaching staff.”

In addition to being fluent in English, Serbian and Spanish, Simovic can also speak Croatian and Bosnian.

He was head coach and sports director for CB Espacio Torrelodones in a Spanish professional league from 2007-09, helping the organization find top talent while also serving an additional stint as general manager and head coach of its under-18 and under-20 teams.

Simovic started his career in his native Belgrade as head coach and recruiting coordinator for the Red Star, a founding member of the Adriatic Basketball Assn. that would win the 2004 Serbian championship under Simovic’s guidance. He coached several players on youth and senior national teams for Serbia and Montenegro that won European championships.

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Culling talent from areas around his homeland figures to be part of his role in his new post.

“My family and I are very excited to become part of the Bruins’ family,” Simovic said in a statement. “I’m especially grateful for this opportunity from coach Cronin, and I am looking forward to being a part of and learning from his coaching staff. I will do everything in my power to help our team and to represent UCLA with a high level of integrity and pride. It’s absolutely an honor for me to join this historic basketball program.”