A longtime teacher and coach, Sandy Pyonin is a renowned basketball guru who has touched the lives of countless young New Jersey athletes over the course of a 40 year career.
Pyonin has trained more than 30 players who have gone on to professional careers in the NBA, many of whom were selected in the first round of the NBA draft. Most recently, he coached Kyrie Irving, the number one overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft and 2012 Rookie of the Year.
Pyonin has coached The New Jersey Roadrunners AAU team, a traveling basketball squad made up of top high school players from around the state, for 37 years. His AAU teams have won three national and 70 state championships while sending more than 300 players to Division I college basketball programs.
At Golda Och Academy (“GOA,” formerly known as Solomon Schechter Day School (“SSDS”)), Pyonin has coached boys middle school soccer, girls varsity softball, boys varsity basketball and boys middle school basketball. His varsity basketball teams have won two state championships, no small feat given that the school does not recruit for athletic purposes and has a limited practice schedule due to rigorous academic requirements. Overall, Pyonin has amassed 2,306 AAU wins and 571 wins as varsity basketball coach for GOA/SSDS.
Pyonin takes great pride in developing his basketball players’ physical skills, court awareness, and decision-making abilities. He is famous for his extreme conditioning drills, which include games of full-court one-on-one played up to 100 points (with no breaks and every basket counting as one point).
Besides his basketball acumen, Pyonin stands out because he emphasizes core life values. No matter the level of athlete, Sandy instills persistence, loyalty, teamwork, sportsmanship and community service in all his players and students. He has honed those values while teaching physical education at GOA/SSDS for more than 40 years and working with young players from all communities in NJ. He is known for chauffeuring many of his players to practice to ensure that they can attend regardless of circumstances in their home lives.
Pyonin’s enthusiasm for basketball is surpassed only by his passion for inspiring every young person he encounters. When not playing or coaching, he enjoys rooting for his favorite baseball team on television, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Originally from Elizabeth, New Jersey, Pyonin currently resides in West Orange, New Jersey with his wife, Lucia.
The following is a summary of the championships Pyonin has amassed over the course of his career:
2 GOA/SSDS Prep B State Championships
7 GOA/SSDS Post Season Joseph Weiner International Tournament Championships
2 GOA/SSDS Middle School Mayor Trophy Championships
3 National AAU Championships
20 19-and-under State AAU Championships
24 17-and-under State AAU Championships
25 16-and-under State AAU Championships
1 15-and-under State AAU Championship
2 International Maccabiah Gold Medals
3 National Maccabiah Gold Medals
1 USY State Championship
2 AZA State Championships
1 YMYWHA. State Championship
1 CYO Championship