Short-term pressure is nothing new to Kevin Ollie

By Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer

Kevin Ollie has big shoes to fill.

He's never had a head coaching job before, and he's following in the footsteps of a man who turned Connecticut into a national power. Jim Calhoun has been the head coach of the Huskies since 1986; it's up to Ollie to keep Connecticut as one of the premier programs in the country.

But who is Kevin Ollie?

He played under Calhoun at UConn from 1991-95, leading the Huskies to two regular-season championships. He is third all-time at Connecticut in assists, and was a member of the all-century team in 2001.

After his college career, Ollie played for the Connecticut Pride of the CBA until 1997, when he signed a 10-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks. He went on to play for 12 different teams during his 13 years in the NBA, most recently with the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2009-10 season. Apropos to his current one-year deal with the Huskies, Ollie received just one contract longer than one season in the NBA. He was never a superstar or even a consistent starter in the pro ranks, but he was a mentor to several younger players, including LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

Calhoun hired Ollie before the 2010-11 season as an assistant coach, and Ollie immediately made an impact on the recruiting trail. He has played a major role in getting guards Ryan Boatright and Omar Calhoun to Storrs, and was also the primary reason 2013 prospects Kentan Facey and Terrance Samuel pledged to Connecticut.

While Ollie is unproven and has been in coaching for just two seasons, he has received the respect and praise of multiple Huskies who have thrived under his tutelage. What will help Ollie is his staff: George Blaney, Glen Miller and Karl Hobbs. All three have head coaching experience and will ease some of the X's and O's pressure from Ollie.

The Los Angeles native is getting the chance of a lifetime; during the press conference on Thursday, he called it his “dream job.”

Ollie knows the pressure is on; he has just seven months to prove himself.

As his NBA career would attest, though, that's nothing new.

 
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