Former NBL stars Smith and Vukona join JackJumpers in new roles
The Tasmania JackJumpers are delighted to announce the appointment of two stalwarts of the National Basketball League to bolster the club’s administration and basketball operations.
Former Hobart Devils player and long-time basketball administrator Darren Smith will join the JackJumpers as Chief Operating Officer from mid-November.
“Darren is a highly respected administrator and former junior coach, and we are absolutely thrilled to secure his expertise and connections to strengthen both on court and off court operations. We believe he’ll be an invaluable addition to the club assisting to achieve ongoing success across the five strategic pillars of the business” CEO Christine Finnegan.
Smith joins the club from his role as Basketball Australia Pathways CEO, where he has been instrumental in strengthening high performance pathways for Australian athletes to secure US College basketball program places and scholarships, as well as helping emerging athletes reach national and international representative honours.
Smith is already part of the broader JackJumpers family as one of 22 Bloodline members, a program initiated by Scott Roth to connect the history of Tasmanian basketball with the JackJumpers and beyond.
Born in Victoria, Smith began his professional career with the Hobart Devils in 1994, the first of eight seasons in the NBL across four clubs before he retired after 211 games.
“It’s just incredible to come full circle and now essentially return to the team where my career in basketball started” Smith said.
“I have loved my time with BA Pathways ad what has been achieved there, but I feel this is an incredible opportunity to bring my skillset to help the JackJumpers further deepen the connection with Tasmanian community, ensure commercial sustainability and of course, vie for championship success” Smith said.
Meanwhile, five-time NBL Champion Mika Vukona will become General Manager – Basketball Operations and oversee the basketball and high-performance department.
Vukona will increase his current role as Basketball Operations Consultant to a full-time capacity and will permanently relocate to Tasmania from Brisbane next month.
“I’m excited to be a full time Tasmanian. There’s not many places in the world like Tassie - the passion of the fans, the salt of the earth, hardworking people, and the amazing environment - it does remind me a lot of my home in New Zealand” Vukona said.
“My role is to draw upon my personal experiences and enhance an already strong and respected basketball program. I aim to facilitate the highest level of connection and cohesion throughout the entire organisation and ensure that we all uphold the Tasmanian JackJumper way” Vukona said.
“I have been part of clubs that have achieved great success and some that haven't. I believe that by being here full-time, I can continue to contribute based on my experiences, further strengthening the existing foundation, and moving us closer to achieving our ultimate goal with this group and for the people of Tasmania” Vukona said.
Vukona played 476 NBL games across four clubs – the Breakers, Dragons, Blaze and Bullets – winning five championships across a 17-year career in the League, including four with the dominant New Zealand Breakers side of the early 2010s.
Tasmania JackJumpers Executive Team
Christine Finnegan – Chief Executive Officer
Darren Smith – Chief Operating Officer
Alex Edgar – General Manager Commercial & Finance
Katelyn Davies – General Manager Communications & Brand
Mika Vukona – General Manager Basketball Operations