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UCONN vs Villanova (photo by Stephen Slade)
Photos from UConn men's basketball vs. Memphis - Tuesday, Jan. 16 2018
UCONN vs UCF (photo by Stephen Slade)
UCONN vs ECU (photo by Stephen Slade)
UCONN vs Coppin State (photo by Stephen Slade)
In just his 5th season as head basketball coach of the UConn Huskies, Kevin Ollie has packed a lifetime of coaching experiences into his first five years. From standing tall through postseason ineligibility, to the exhilaration of NCAA and American Conference championships, to the frustration of an injury epidemic, Ollie has emerged with the knowledge and fortitude of a coach with far more years on the bench. Add that to Ollie’s perseverance as he crafted a 13-year NBA career and he is clearly well-schooled in basketball situations at every level.
Ollie has compiled 113 wins (113-61, .649) in his first five seasons, already fifth on the all-time list of UConn coaching victories and that includes a sparkling 7-1 record in the NCAA Tournament, an .875 winning percentage that ranks fourth all-time. He guided the Huskies to the 2014 NCAA Championship, the 2016 American Athletic Conference Championship and along the way has coached players selected All-American, Final Four Most Outstanding Player, Conference Player of the Year, Conference Rookie of the Year, Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Scholar-Athlete, and numerous all-tournament and all-conference selections. He has had three NBA Draft picks and sent many others into professional basketball careers overseas.
In addition, in his relatively short tenure as head coach, Ollie has completely turned around the academic situation he inherited that had made UConn ineligible for the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Under Ollie, the Huskies have posted three perfect Academic Progress Rate scores in the last four years (scores for 2016-17 have not yet been released) and have been cited with the NCAA Public Recognition Award, given to teams in the top 10 percent of APR scores in their sport.
Of all the seniors on Ollie’s five UConn teams, all but one has earned his degree (92.3 percent) and three of the four graduate students who have joined Ollie’s program have received their master’s degree.
In the summer of 2016, Ollie gained coaching experience on the international level when he was asked by USA Basketball to be part of the coaching staff for the USA Men’s U18 National Team, which captured the gold medal at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Valdivia, Chile.
In 2015-16, after reaching the championship game of the American Athletic Conference postseason tournament for the third consecutive season, Ollie achieved another milestone, UConn’s first AAC title, with a 72-58 victory over Memphis at the Amway Center in Orlando.
The win secured a second berth in the NCAA Championship in Ollie’s four years, where the Huskies defeated Colorado in the first round before bowing to overall No. 1 seed Kansas in a second-round game. Add that to a fourth consecutive 20-win season, and his second season of 25 wins or more.
It took Ollie just 70 games to join the elite of the coaching profession --- those who have won an NCAA championship. In just his second season as UConn’s head basketball coach, after just two years on the staff of Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun, Ollie firmly established himself in the college game by guiding the Huskies to a 32-8 season in 2013-14 and the NCAA title, defeating Kentucky, 60-54, in the tourney’s championship game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
On his way to guiding UConn to its fourth NCAA crown in the history of the program, Ollie marched the Huskies past storied programs Saint Joseph’s, Villanova, Iowa State, Michigan State, and Florida in the tournament before the finale against Kentucky.
It would have been a dream season for any college coach, but for a coach of just 70 games, whose team was not even able to compete in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, it was truly remarkable. The Huskies won eight of their last nine games, 11 of their last 13, and had a 10-4 record against ranked opponents, including two wins against Florida, the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Ollie had accepted a huge responsibility on Sept. 13, 2012, when he was named the 18th head coach in the history of UConn men’s basketball, succeeding the legendary Calhoun, Ollie’s own college coach and mentor.
Despite a roster depleted by transfers and early NBA entrants, Ollie surprised the experts by guiding the Huskies to a 20-victory season (20-10), a feat no other UConn coach had ever accomplished in his first year. At season’s end, Ollie’s efforts were recognized by Collegeinsider.com, which selected him to receive its Ben Jobe National Coach of the Year Award, given to the top Division I minority coach.
Ollie’s UConn history --- which began in the fall of 1991 when he reported to school as a freshman from Los Angeles, continued through four successful seasons, including two as a Husky team captain, and resumed when he returned to join Calhoun’s coaching staff following a 13-year NBA career --- has come full circle. He may have only served two seasons as an assistant on Calhoun’s staff, but possessed a wealth of basketball knowledge after learning from some of the finest teachers to ever coach the game, including Calhoun, Chuck Daly, Don Nelson, Larry Brown, and George Karl.
Coming out of Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles where he played for reknowned high school coach Willie West, Ollie played on some of Calhoun’s finest UConn teams during the mid-1990s, as a four-year starting point guard and a two-time captain. He played in 124 games for the Huskies, averaging 6.7 points and 5.0 assists. A third team All-Big East pick, his 619 assist total still ranks fourth on UConn’s all-time list. He graduated in 1995 with a degree in communications.
After his UConn career, Ollie fought through years in the Continental Basketball Association and the U.S. Basketball League to get his chance in the NBA. Once there, Ollie would simply not give up his dream, signing a series of 10-day and one-year contracts, dealing with trades and frustrating roster cuts.
Yet Ollie would not be deterred, earning a reputation throughout the league as an outstanding teammate, with strong moral fiber, impeccable character, and a vast knowledge of the game. During a 13-year NBA career, Ollie played for 11 different franchises in 12 cities.
Ollie couldn’t have had a more successful debut season to his coaching career than in 2010-11, when as an assistant, he helped guard Kemba Walker produce one of the most spectacular individual seasons in UConn history in leading the Huskies to the program’s third national championship. He has had the same kind of success mentoring guards Jeremy Lamb, Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright and current Husky Jalen Adams.
Born in Dallas on Dec. 27, 1972, and raised in Los Angeles, Ollie resides in Glastonbury and has two children, son Jalen and daughter Cheyanne.