Orlando Antigua is in his fifth season as an assistant coach with the Wildcats after spending one season with Calipari at Memphis, and his first as the Dominican Republic National Team head coach.
Known for his eye for talent on the recruiting trail, Antigua has helped UK pull in five straight top-ranked recruiting classes. In his initial season with the Wildcats, Antigua saw three of his recruits drafted in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft. As a result, he was named one of Yahoo! Sports top 10 college basketball recruiters, and he was recently ranked by ESPN as the top assistant coach 40 and under.
When he joined the Memphis staff in 2008, the Tigers were the winningest program over a three-year span in NCAA Division I history, recording 104 victories from 2005-08. So what did Antigua do? He helped coach the Tigers to a 33-4 record and a spot in the 2009 NCAA Sweet 16. For the fourth straight season, the Tigers took the regular season and tournament titles, going undefeated in C-USA three of the four years.
Prior to his brief stay in Memphis, Antigua worked at his alma mater, Pittsburgh. During his five years at Pitt, he helped lead the Panthers to an overall record of 132-40 (.767 winning percentage) and a Big East Conference mark of 55-27 (.670 winning percentage). Pittsburgh recorded five straight 20-win campaigns and won 10 or more league games five consecutive years.
The Panthers had just as much success in the postseason during Antigua’s years. The Panthers earned NCAA Tournament bids all five of Antigua’s years and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in 2004 and 2007.
Antigua’s first stint with Pittsburgh was his collegiate playing days from 1991-95. A fouryear letterwinner and two-time team captain, Antigua ranks in the top 15 on the Panthers’ all-time 3-pointers made (14th with 117 treys), blocked shots (14th with 78 swats) and career 3-point percentage (seventh at 38.6 percent).
A 1992 Big East Conference All-Rookie Team pick, Antigua helped lead the Panthers to an 18-16 record and a National Invitation Tournament berth as a freshman. The following year, Antigua’s Panthers went 17-11 and earned an NCAA Tournament bid.
In 1994, he was named the United States Basketball Writers’ Association Most Courageous Athlete, an honor presented annually to the college basketball player who displays courage on and off the court.
Antigua graduated from Pittsburgh with a degree in social sciences in December 1995. After graduation, Antigua was selected to play for the world-renowned Harlem Globetrotters, becoming the first player of Latin American descent to play for the squad. Nicknamed “Hurricane” for his dazzling moves, Antigua played with the Globetrotters for seven years until 2002.
Antigua also played in the Puerto Rico Superior Basketball League for eight years, and in both 1994-95 and 1997-98, he was a member of the Dominican Republic national team. Because of his dedication to the community, Antigua was named one of the nation’s top 100 most influential Hispanic Americans by Hispanic Business magazine.
A Dominican Republic native who was raised in Bronx, N.Y., Antigua recovered from a 1988 Halloween incident where he was shot in the head near his left eye. Undeterred by the incident, Antigua quickly returned to the playing court two weeks later and went on to play three seasons at Pittsburgh with the slug in his head. Doctors initially ruled out removing the bullet as being too risky, but Antigua began suffering severe headaches.
Antigua’s family also went through a period of homelessness. The oldest of three brothers, Antigua was credited with keeping the family together while housing was secured.
He overcame these difficulties and went on to serve as student council president at St. Raymond’s High School. As a member of the school’s basketball squad, Antigua played a major role in the team’s New York Catholic League championship run. As a senior, he earned McDonald’s All-America and Parade magazine All-America second-team honors and was also named All-New York City.
After serving as an assistant coach for the Dominican Republic National Team for two years in which the Caribbean country reached new heights, Antigua was named Calipari’s success as the Dominicans’ head coach.
Fluent in Spanish, Antigua and his wife, Dana, have two children, a son, Orlando Anthony, and a daughter, Olivia.