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Kevin Ollie  

Head Basketball Coach, University of Connecticut Huskies

Chalk up another first among the coaching accomplishments of four-year UConn Head Basketball Coach Kevin Ollie. In March, 2016, after reaching the championship game of the American Athletic Conference postseason tournament for the third consecutive season, the Huskies captured their first AAC title with a 72-58 victory over Memphis at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla.

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, his second season of 25 wins or more (25-11), and it’s easy to see why Ollie is considered one of the top young coaches in college basketball.

In just four seasons as UConn’s head coach, following two years as an assistant under Hall of Fame Coach Jim Calhoun, Ollie has already experienced a long career’s worth of ups and downs --- including the ultimate high of the college basketball coaching profession, the 2014 NCAA National Championship.

His teams have never won less than 20 games, while posting three perfect APR scores of 1000. His career record of 97-44 (.688) already has him fifth on UConn’s all-time coaching wins list. The 2015-16 season was, at times, a frustrating one, with four games lost by three points or less and six games by five points or less. But it also included many high points, including a road win at Texas, a 4-3 record against Power 5 opponents, and a thrilling four-overtime win over Cincinnati in the quarterfinals of the AAC Championships, propelling the Huskies to the league title.

It took Ollie just 70 games to join the elite of the profession --- those who have won an NCAA championship.

In just his second season as UConn’s head basketball coach and only his fourth year in coaching since retiring from the NBA, 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 their 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 because of academic shortcomings of years long past, 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 accepted a huge responsibility on Sept. 13, 2012, when he was named the 18th head coach in the history of UConn men’s basketball.

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, which selected him to receive its Ben Jobe National Coach of the Year Award, given to the top Division I minority coach.
Less than a dozen games into his first season as head coach, Ollie was awarded a five-year contract. Following his second season in 2013-14, he spurned interest from NBA teams to sign another new contract with UConn that runs through May, 2019.

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, Ollie played on some of Calhoun’s finest 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. His perseverance finally paid off with a multi-year NBA contract from the Cleveland Cavaliers. 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, as 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 and Ryan Boatright.

Born in Dallas on Dec. 27, 1972, and raised in Los Angeles, Ollie resides in Glastonbury and has two children, son Jalen (born 6/22/96) and daughter Cheyanne (born 2/6/01).

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