The Sacramento Kings announced today that they have hired a new Vice President of the Kings Academy and professional development.
Galen Duncan, who spent the last 10 years as senior director of player development with the Detroit Lions, will take on the role of player development and establishing a player-centric curriculum that aligns with the organization's philosophy to help athletes mature into well-rounded professionals.
Though he has a Ph.D. in health psychology, Duncan considers himself more of a life coach than a sports psychologist. While with the Lions, he advised players regarding housing options, financial education tools, counseling connections and off-field career opportunities. His support will be available to the entire Kings roster from the young players to the veterans, though the younger players will likely have more of a learning curve.
"With that money, there is the pressure to perform. There's family members who may understand or don't understand the situation the young man is in. Some of these guys are coming from situations where they've been the guy, they've been getting a certain number of minutes a night and that might not be the same case when they get to this situation, so my job is to mentor them through that," Duncan told Sactown Royalty. "A lot of these guys, other than AAU trips and a year in college, it's the first time they've been away from home, so my job is to make them feel a little more comfortable and help them become young men and work to be better people."
While with the Lions, Duncan assisted football operations with character evaluations for all draft-eligible players and oversaw rookie transition and social media etiquette training programs. He also served as the Lions liaison between the league office and NFL Players Association. He does have experience in the NBA as well, having been a consultant to the NBA Rookie Transition Program and NBA Players Association, for which he presented psychologically instructive presentations and facilitated individual and group counseling sessions tailored to first and second year players.
The mentorship he provides to players will include things he hopes stick with them long after they are done playing in the NBA.
"When they move on to whatever else they move on to, I want them to be able to reach back and use some of the lessons that we've learned together and worked together on, just to be better people and be better citizens," he said. "Because these guys could potentially have a voice that could truly change the world and change the environments that they come from."
Duncan said the issues players deal with in the NBA and NFL are similar for the most part.
"These guys are from the same places and have experienced some of the same things ... The biggest difference is that the contracts are guaranteed in the NBA and they're not, for the most part, in the NFL," Duncan said. "It lets me know that I will be able to work with guys for a longer period of time and I will have a more defined amount of time that I’ll be able to work with them."
The Kings’ move to bring in Duncan would appear to be an extension of the effort to establish recruiting efforts moving forward that put an emphasis on showing players that the team truly cares about them, their families and their future.
To get more of an idea of Duncan’s approach, check out this video from the Detroit Lions.