Jersey City native Mike O’Koren is in his first season as an assistant coach at Rutgers University. A collegiate All-American at North Carolina under Dean Smith, O’Koren arrived “On the Banks” with 10 years of NBA coaching experience and eight seasons of NBA playing experience on his resume.
O’Koren, who has served as a color analyst for high school basketball games on Verizon FiOS1 for the past two seasons, worked alongside Eddie Jordan during his NBA tenure. He served under Jordan as associate head coach with the Philadelphia 76ers (2009-10) and Washington Wizards (2004-09), after working alongside him as an assistant with the New Jersey Nets (1999-03). The Wizards made the playoffs in four of O'Koren’s five full seasons after doing so just once in the prior 16 years. Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison all made their first All-Star appearance during his tenure. The Nets won back-to-back Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference Championships in 2002 and 2003, as Jason Kidd and Stephon Marbury earned All-Star nods.
O’Koren was an NBA All-Star Game assistant coach in 2002 and 2007.
O’Koren was a four-year starter and three-time All-American with the Tar Heels. Named to the ACC’s 2013 Legends class, he is the only North Carolina player to have recorded at least 1,500 points (1,765), 800 rebounds (815) and 300 assists (348). He also had 183 steals and a career field goal percentage of 57.2. He helped UNC to a 94-29 record and four NCAA tournaments during his tenure, including an appearance in the national finals in 1977, when he averaged 13.9 points as a freshman and scored a career-best 31 in a national semifinals victory over UNLV. A two-time First Team All-ACC selection, O’Koren led the league and ranked second nationally in field goal percentage as a sophomore. He had 17 points, a career-high 20 rebounds, seven assists and four steals while holding Gene Banks scoreless in the second half of 74-68 victory over Duke on Jan. 13, 1979.
A co-captain of the United States gold medal team at the 1979 Pan American Games, O’Koren was selected sixth overall by New Jersey in the 1980 draft. He played eight seasons in the NBA with the Nets (1980-86, 87-88) and Washington Bullets (1986-87), scoring 3,355 points, grabbing 1,391 rebounds and dishing out 856 assists. Coached by both Larry Brown and Wes Unseld during his career, O’Koren’s best season as a professional came during the 1981–82 campaign, when he averaged 11.4 points in 80 games (32 starts) with the Nets. He averaged 11.0 points and 6.0 rebounds as a rookie and 10.2 points-per-game in 1984-85.
O’Koren competed in the playoffs during five of his NBA seasons. He played in 11 playoff games in 1984, helping the Nets to the franchise’s first series victory, a seven game upset of defending champion Philadelphia.
A member of the Hudson County Sports Hall of Fame, O’Koren honed his skills on the asphalt schoolyards of Jersey City and played his high school ball under the tutelage of coach "Rocky" Pope. At Hudson Catholic, O'Koren was a teammate of Jim Spanarkel, who went on to play point guard at Duke and in the NBA. O’Koren has volunteered at Hudson Catholic, as well as at Hoboken and Gloucester Catholic High Schools.
O’Koren, 56, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in recreational administration from North Carolina in 1980. He and wife Angela are the proud parents of a 20-year-old daughter named Chelsea.