Saunders in 2009 as the University of Minnesota graduate manager
|Born||April 28, 1986|
|High school||Wayzata (Plymouth, Minnesota)|
|2009–2014||Washington Wizards (assistant)|
|2014–2019||Minnesota Timberwolves (assistant)|
|2019–present||Minnesota Timberwolves (interim)|
Ryan Philip Saunders (born April 28, 1986) is an American basketball coach and former player. He is the interim head coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is known for his work in player development while with the Washington Wizards staff.
College playing career
A walk-on, Saunders played basketball at the University of Minnesota from 2004 to 2008 as a guard. He played only 20 games in his first two seasons in a backup role. Saunders redshirted the 2006–07 season due to a wrist injury and did not play any games in the 2007–08 season. Saunders graduated from Minnesota in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in sport management.
After he achieved his bachelor's degree and finished playing college basketball, Saunders was a graduate manager under Tubby Smith in the 2008–09 season while pursuing a master's degree in applied kinesiology.
Since 2014, he has been an assistant coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves. On January 6, 2019, Saunders was promoted to interim head coach of the Timberwolves after Tom Thibodeau was fired, also becoming the youngest head coach in the NBA for the 2018–19 season. On January 8, 2019, Saunders got his first win in his debut as head coach when the Timberwolves defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder, and became the youngest head coach to win in his debut since 1978.
When Saunders was born, his father Flip Saunders was an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota. Ryan Saunders grew up in Wisconsin and South Dakota, as Flip later worked as head coach for CBA teams in those states, the Rapid City Thrillers (1988–1989), La Crosse Catbirds (1989–1994), and Sioux Falls Skyforce (1994–1995). In 1995, the Saunders family returned to the Minneapolis–Saint Paul area, as Flip Saunders became head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, a position he would maintain for the rest of Ryan's childhood.
Saunders has taken part in multiple basketball camps for the youth and charitable organizations in Minnesota.
- "Ryan Saunders" (PDF). Minnesota Basketball 2007-08. University of Minnesota. p. 64.
- Ryan Saunders staying in Washington
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-03-18. Retrieved 2006-03-18.
- "Ryan Saunders". NBA. 2012. Retrieved April 18, 2015.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-02-21. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
- "Timberwolves Relieve Tom Thibodeau of his Duties". NBA.com. January 6, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
- Ratke, Kyle (January 7, 2019). "Get To Know Timberwolves Interim Head Coach Ryan Saunders". NBA.com. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
- Ratke, Kyle (January 8, 2019). "Saunders Leads Wolves To Emotional Win In Debut". NBA.com. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
- Mathur, Ashish (January 8, 2019). "Ryan Saunders becomes youngest coach in NBA history to win his coaching debut since 1978". ClutchPoints. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
- "Wizards Assistant Coaches". NBA.com. Retrieved 2014-05-03.
- Wizards Assistant Coaches
- Minnesota bio from 2007-08 media guide, p. 64