Kirk Penney, an All-Big Ten standout who helped lead Wisconsin to a pair of Big Ten titles and was part of a Final Four run, has returned to the Badger bench as Special Assistant to the Head Coach for the 2023-24 season, as announced by head coach Greg Gard on Monday.
Penney starred at Wisconsin from 1999-2003 before enjoying a 15-year professional career. A member of UW’s team that made the 2000 Final Four, Penney later lead the Badgers to back-to-back Big Ten titles in 2002 and 2003 (first consecutive titles for UW since 1923-24).
“I’m excited to welcome Kirk back to our program,” Gard said. “His knowledge of not only what it means to be a Badger, but also his world-wide experience in the game of basketball will be a great asset to our players and program overall. Kirk checks all of the boxes in terms of his knowledge of our program, his mind for the game, his wealth of playing and coaching experience, and his love for the Badgers. I’m happy to have Kirk back at Wisconsin.”
“I’m thankful to Coach Gard for this opportunity to rejoin the Wisconsin Basketball family,” Penney said. “It’s an exciting season ahead, with a fantastic coaching staff and talented players on the roster. Some of my fondest memories are with this program and I’m looking forward to creating more with this group. My wife, Audra, is also a Badger, having played volleyball here, so it’s neat for the family to be contributing to Bucky’s success once again.”
An honorable mention AP All-American as a senior in 2003, Penney became the first Badger to earn consecutive first-team All-Big Ten honors (2002-03) since Ab Nicholas in 1951-52.
A member of the UW Athletic Hall of Fame, Penney finished his career at Wisconsin ranked second in school history in career 3-pointers made (217). He scored 1,454 points at UW, which currently ranks 14th in school annals.
Penney represented New Zealand at two Olympic Games (2000 and 2004) and four FIBA World Cups (formerly known as the FIBA World Championships). He was part of New Zealand’s memorable fourth-place finish at the 2002 World Championships, averaging 16.9 points per game and shooting 45.5 percent from 3-point range. Penney ranks 12th all-time in scoring at the FIBA World Cup (formerly known as the FIBA World Championships), scoring 447 points in 27 games (16.6 points per game).
Penney became the second New Zealand native to play in the NBA, appearing with the Miami Heat in 2003 and Los Angeles Clippers in 2005. He also had professional experience playing in Spain, Israel, Lithuania, Germany, Turkey and Australia.
Penney earned his undergraduate degree in landscape architecture from Wisconsin in 2015.
He and his wife, Audra, are parents to their daughters, Olivia and Ava, and sons, Ben and Josh.