Combining his passion for basketball and numbers, Samer Jassar, ’13, has had an up close and personal view of the Milwaukee Bucks’ run to the NBA championship.
The Baker University graduate and former Wildcat basketball player is in his second season as director of basketball strategy and analytics for the NBA champions. The Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 on Tuesday night, claiming their first NBA title in 50 years.
“I love the game and I love numbers, but most importantly I enjoy the camaraderie of being around our players and staff. Seeing the amount of hours and the hard work our players put in and then seeing it pay off in the playoffs has been a really inspiring and fulfilling experience.”Samer Jassar, ’13
In his role with the Bucks, Jassar takes on various responsibilities assisting Jonathan Horst, the general manager, throughout the year.
“I mainly help our general manager in strategic planning concerning roster construction, free agency, trades, negotiating player contracts, interpreting the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, as well as provide advanced statistical data and analysis to our coaching staff and front office,” Jassar said. “I also travel on the road to scout players at the pro, amateur, and international level who we may have interest in adding to our roster in the future. Our goals and expectations are to build a sustainable model and to compete for an NBA Championship year in and year out.”
Before joining the Bucks in the summer of 2019, Jassar spent three seasons with the basketball operations of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves. One of his duties was preparing cap projections for all 30 NBA teams, helping identify the other teams’ strategies.
“It’s been an amazing journey,” Jassar said. “We spend countless hours preparing, watching film, and building our roster, so being able to reach the NBA Finals and compete for an NBA Championship is a very rewarding and humbling experience. I did take on more responsibility in my current role, and the fit has been amazing. Our GM has done a great job putting together a very diverse staff.”
Jassar is motivated to build on this year’s success.
“You have to keep growing and developing in this business, keep finding ways to be creative and challenging myself, and help the Bucks be a championship contender every year,” he said.
After graduating from Baker, Jassar earned a Master of Business Administration in finance from the University of Baltimore Merrick School of Busines. While in Baltimore, he secured an internship with renowned sports agent Ron Shapiro.
“The time with Ron was invaluable, and it really sparked my interest and gave me a drive to learn more about the business side of sports,” Jassar said.
Shaped at Baker
His three years on the Baldwin City campus also contributed to his business acumen. He considered it a privilege to be taught by Alan Grant, Judy Smrha, Lowell Jacobsen, Kevin McCarthy, and Martha Harris while earning a degree in management and accounting.
“I’m a big believer that the people make the place, and the memories that stand out are mainly because of the people at Baker,” said Jassar, who played two years of basketball under Brett Ballard and one year under Sean Dooley. “There were great teachers and educators in the business. They helped shape my way of thinking and equipped me with tools and habits that I carry to this day.”
Ballard, who guided the Wildcats from 2010 to 2012, recruited Jassar to Baldwin City. Originally from Jatt, Israel, Jassar came to the United States to play basketball at Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kansas.
Ballard coached the Wildcats to an appearance in the NAIA national tournament in 2012 and was impressed by Jassar’s development and his plans to pursue a career in basketball.
“He became more disciplined, a great teammate and improved dramatically as a player,” Ballard said. “Samer always expressed an interest to work in basketball after his playing days were over. He has been dedicated to that dream and I am very proud of what he has accomplished.”
Ballard was not surprised by Jassar’s success in the NBA.
“Samer has a growth mindset,” he said. “He strives to get better in all aspects of his life and puts in hard work to accomplish his goals. He has a good heart and is very loyal, and I believe all of those qualities have helped him succeed.”
Fond of his time as a student-athlete at Baker, Jassar remains in contact with his Baker teammates.
“The 2012 basketball team had an amazing group of guys who epitomized selflessness and putting the team first for the success of the team,” he recalled. “There are many great memories from my time at Baker and at Collins Gym. I’m fortunate enough to have made lifelong friends with my college teammates. The players from the 2012 team have stayed very close and we see each other often throughout the year. They were my teammates when I was at Baker, but now they’re my family, too.”
Written by Steve Rottinghaus, ’14 MSM