Legendary UConn coach Jim Calhoun will formally announce his retirement at a 2 p.m. press conference Thursday. Kevin Ollie, an assistant for the past two years, will take over for this year, a source told Hearst Connecticut Media Group. CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman reported that Ollie agreed to a one-year deal with an evaluation at the end of the season. Here’s a closer look at Ollie:
Born: December 27, 1972
College: A native of Los Angeles who played at Crenshaw High, Ollie was recruited by Jim Calhoun and former assistant Howie Dickenman. He spent four seasons at UConn (1991-95) and still ranks No. 3 in career assists (619). Ollie averaged 9.8 points and 6.4 assists as a senior.
NBA: After going undrafted in 1995, Ollie played with the Connecticut Pride of the CBA for two years before cracking the NBA. He bounced around for 13 seasons, primarily as a back-up. The 6-foot-3 Ollie, notorious for his work ethic, helped the Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA Finals in 2001. He played alongside NBA greats Allen Iverson, Ray Allen and Kevin Durant at different points in his career.
Coaching: Ollie has already established himself as an elite recruiter. In a survey among UConn targets late last week, 14 out of 15 told Hearst Connecticut Media Group that they’d be more likely to commit to the Huskies if Ollie were named “coach in waiting.” It’s not a hypothetical anymore. He’s the coach, at least for the time being.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
*Former teammate Ricky Moore (Wednesday evening): “I know Kevin is going to make the kids work and make sure they get better. He’s going to push the kids just as hard as coach Calhoun pushed them. Having an opportunity to coach with Coach Calhoun, just seeing some of the things he does in practice every day, I think Kevin will be fine. He played professionally for a long time. He was a guy who nobody thought would make it and he did…It means he’s a hard worker and that’s all you can ask for. Make sure the kids come first and make sure it’s academics first then athletics second, and everything after that is all about work. There’s no easy route to being successful.”
*Top 2013 target Xavier Rathan Mayes (June): “He’s just a great guy. He cares about the program and stuff, but he cares about you as a person. That’s a really good feeling for me and my family. He’s just a great guy at heart, somebody that I can talk to about basketball, but things off the court, my personal life, and that’s special to be able to have that with the coach of a school…There’s not too many like coach Ollie.”
*2014 SG Ahmed Hill (June): “I would (want Ollie to be the next coach). Every time he gets on the phone with me, he always motivates me. He has me thinking about school; he motivates me to be a better person. We talk about being a better person first of all before talking about basketball.”