Ronald Ramon is coming home.
The former Pitt basketball guard is returning to the program to work as Jeff Capel’s assistant director of basketball operations after recently retiring as a player.
Though Ramon is Dominican and was raised in New York City, Pittsburgh became his home after meeting his wife at Pitt. He remained based in Pittsburgh while his professional career took him to Brazil, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and many more destinations.
I caught up with Ramon on Monday to talk about his return to the Panthers.
PSN: You recently left professional basketball, what made it the right move to jumping into coaching?
Ronald Ramon: “I just got back from China playing in the World Cup in early September. I saw then going to play for the national team and this job opportunity presented itself. I talked to Jeff as soon as he got the job here, I came up and introduced myself and told him that I was at the end of my career do if an opportunity presented itself to keep me in mind. Then during the year we kept in contact and we talked. When I was in China, the guy that was in this position left and the opportunity came about and I believed this was a great opportunity for me and my family. China, playing in the World Cup being the last thing I did in my career, I think it was perfect.”
PSN: Did you know Jeff or have any previous relationship with him before you took the job?
Ramon: “No, we didn’t. I’m sure he coached against me. He was with the USA team in 2014 when we went to the World Cup in Spain and I was playing for the Dominican Republic National Team. We played the USA Team twice. Then of course when he was coaching with Duke in 2008 at The Garden when Levance Fields hit the big shot to win, that was the second time we crossed paths but never exchanged numbers or sat down and had a conversation until he got the job here.”
PSN: As an alum, what were your thoughts on the state of the program since Jamie Dixon left and then Jeff got the job?
RR: “He was definitely a great hire for the program. When you have the background that he’s coming from, we knew what he could do and needed someone that could turn it back around. That was one of the main things that we were all looking for as alumni. The University did a great job by hiring him.”
PSN: What things do you hope to learn from him and accomplish as a young coach?
RR: “I want to be a sponge from him. Any experience that I can gain, any knowledge that I can gain from all the coaches. Not only Jeff but from Coach O’Toole, Jason Capel and Coach Milan Brown. They all were head coaches at one point so it’s a great coaching staff especially for me to learn from. That’s one of the main things this program has right now is head coaches that are working together. Me personally, in my position I’m not allowed to coach. I’m going to be more on the operations side, I’ll be helping with alumni and trying to get them to come back and stay connected. Also, the Life Skills program we have and making sure our guys take advantage of it. Lastly, I’ll be a mentor as much as I can off the court, anything I can help the guys with from my experience here at Pitt and my experiences overseas. Also with recruiting, I’ll be able to help once the kids come on campus and will be able to interact with them.”
PSN: Is it weird and what’s it going to be like to now think of yourself as a coach now instead of a player?
RR: “It’s definitely different, I’m not going to lie to you. Playing for all these years and being on the court and not the sidelines, it’s a little different but I’m ready and willing to learn. I’m actually very happy at the opportunity in the position I’m in right now and I just want to take advantage of it.”