STORRS, Conn. --- Veteran college coach Raphael Chillious has been hired by the UConn men’s basketball program as associate head coach, beginning immediately.
For seven of the past eight seasons, Chillious has served as an assistant coach at the University of Washington, and last year was elevated to associate head coach at UW. He brings with him to UConn a reputation as a top-notch national recruiter, as well as a coach experienced in all phases of a successful program, especially the formation of strong relationships with the student-athletes.
“We are very fortunate to be able to add Raphael Chillious to our coaching staff,” UConn head coach Kevin Ollie said. “He is a high-level recruiter, but that is far from the only thing he brings to us. He has been involved in many aspects of the college game and has so much experience – he’s been a coach for a long time, he’s worked with Nike … I love his energy, his developmental skills and his knowledge of the game, offensively and defensively. Wherever he’s been, he’s created a culture that is a winning culture.”
Ollie and Chillious have a relationship that dates back more than 20 years.
“We’ve known each other since I was in the CBA and we’ve been friends ever since,” Ollie said. “He knows how to develop players. He’s a coach who can get players ready for the NBA, not only professionally on the court, but professionally off the court as well. I’m grateful that the timing was right for us to work together on a professional level.”
Chillious, 45, began his Division I coaching career in 2009-10 at Washington, where he remained for three seasons before joining the coaching staff at Villanova in 2012-13. After one season at Villanova, he returned to Washington, where he has spent the last four years, including 2016-17 as the Huskies’ associate head coach. He will assume a similar position at UConn.
“It’s going to sound cliché, but the thing that made UConn attractive to me is UConn --- one of the best brand names in college basketball, four national championships,” Chillious said. “Historically, UConn recruits high-level student-athletes and produces big-time pros.
“Then, obviously, there is Kevin Ollie with his passion for UConn basketball and passion in general and his vision for this program -- winning championships. I’ve had a relationship with KO since 1996, so it’s not like I’m coming to work for somebody I don’t know.”
Chillious prophetically figured that at some point in their careers, he and Ollie would work together.
“We were pretty close and bounced stuff off each other,” Chillious said. “It’s one of those deals where you see a guy on the road recruiting and you say, ‘Maybe one day, he and I will link up somehow.’ Now, the timing is right and I think it’s going to be a great fit. I’m very excited about this venture. I think we can make things happen at UConn again, real fast.”
Chillious has been credited as the key to Washington’s highly-rated recruiting classes in the past few years, particularly the No. 7-ranked class in 2015, as well as last season’s freshman class, which included Top 10 national recruit Markelle Fultz. He already feels familiar with UConn.
“I was going through the UConn athletic staff rosters and a student I taught, Joe Pereira, is one of the UConn assistant ice hockey coaches,” he said. “Even at Washington, I felt like I was close to UConn because Morgan Valley (UConn women’s basketball, 2000-04) is on the women’s staff and she and I were close. Jasmine Lister (former UConn women’s basketball graduate assistant coach) just came to Washington from UConn – so there was all these degrees of separation. I felt like, ‘This was supposed to happen.’ And for me, it gets me back living in the wheelhouse of where I recruit really heavily – the Northeast and that DMV (District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia) area.”
Chillious is no stranger to the state of Connecticut, having spent five years (2003-2008) as the head basketball coach and co-athletic director at South Kent School (South Kent, Conn.), where he coached current Boston Celtics star Isaiah Thomas, as well as NBA players Dorrell Wright, Andray Blatche, and Dion Waiters. Even before he arrived at South Kent, Chillious coached former UConn star Josh Boone at West Nottingham Academy (Colora, Md.).
“I feel like have a connection, having coached Josh, and when they won the national championship (2004), I felt like I was on that ride, too,” he said. “I was in San Antonio with him when they won. And, during my time at South Kent in the western part of the state for five years, you kind of live and breathe UConn basketball.”
After leaving South Kent, Chillious served as Nike’s business manager for their Elite Youth Basketball line in Beaverton, Ore., for a year before he was hired at Washington.
A native of Olney, Md., Chillious attended Lafayette College (Easton, Pa.), earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1996. He served as the basketball team captain during his senior year and also received the President’s Club Silver Award with a 3.45 GPA.
He continued his education at the University of Victoria (Victoria, B.C.), where he also began his coaching career in 1997. From there, he moved on to become the head coach at West Nottingham in 2001, then took the job at South Kent two years later.
Chillious and his wife, Charlene, have a 9-year-old daughter, Zaya Joy.
What they say about Raphael Chillious:
“My relationship with Coach Chillious goes back to when he coached me in prep school in Connecticut. He’s not just a great coach, but even a better person. He’s a father figure who genuinely cares about the kids and nothing more. He is a heck of a motivator, a great player development guy and someone I always look to when it comes to getting in the gym and improving my game. He’s worked with me almost every off-season to take my game to another level. On top of that, he’s one of the best recruiters in the country.”
---- Isaiah Thomas,
“Coach Chills was a very influential role model for me when I was in prep school. He really helped me grow as a player and a person as a father figure for me. He’s very knowledgeable about the game. He’s a really good skills man --- during the summers when I was at UConn and especially when I was getting ready for the NBA draft, I worked with him. He a very demanding coach, but he has a good way of getting the best out of his players and he’s coached some very good players. He’s really well-connected in the recruiting world and what’s just as important in that world is, he’s a very hard worker.”
--- Josh Boone,
UConn forward, 2003-2006
New Jersey Nets, 2006-2010
“Raphael is a person with a lot of energy, always upbeat. He is a very, very good recruiter, well-connected. He is very good on the bench because he has such a good understanding of the game. Plus, he’s a really great guy.”
--- Lorenzo Romar,
Head Basketball Coach,
University of Washington, 2002-2017