Former UConn men’s basketball head coach Kevin Olliewho led the Huskies to a national championship in 2014, has been linked as a contender for the Detroit Pistons head coach position since its opening.
Basketball expert Adam Zagoria reported on May 18, during the NBA Draft Combine that the job is expected to fall to either Ollie or Jarron Collins, the New Orleans Pelicans assistant. Milwaukee Bucks assistant head coach Charles Lee, who fired his head coach Mike Budenholzer after an early playoff exit, is the third name in the mix.
Shams CharaniaAn NBA insider for The Athletic reported that finalists Ollie, Collins and Lee were scheduled to meet the Pistons earlier this month.
Ollie iswidely regarded as a favourite Detroit CEO Troy Weaver,” said Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.
The position was opened after Dwayne Casey decided to leave his role and move to the Pistons office after the 17-65 season – the fourth straight year the organization missed the playoffs. Detroit entered the 2022–23 NBA season as the ninth-youngest team in the league, with an average age of just over 25, and is set to finish third in the top five in the draft over the last four seasons.
“I think he would be a great fit for this organization,” he said Jazian Gortman, who played for Ollie for two years in the Overtime Elite, a league that rewards players who want to train for the pros without going to college. “Most young guys don’t understand the job and he’s one of those coaches who went through – he had to earn everything in his career. That’s his motto, and he instills it in every player he comes in contact with.
Gortman is one of the Overtime Elite candidates for the 2023 NBA Draft – Amen and Ausar Thompson, also coached by Ollie, could become the first twins to be drafted in the top 10 of the same draft.
“We have more growth (at OTE)” by Amen Thompson said CBS Sports. “More hours, more time in the gym, more opportunities, more time to work on some of our weaknesses. Some guys in college or elsewhere only have a certain amount of time to adjust and study, but we can be in the gym all day.
Ollie, who spent most of his time in the gym with them, played quarterback for UConn from 1991-95 and began his 13-year NBA career with a string of 10-day contracts. He was said to be a locker room mentor to young players like Kevin Durant and LeBron James.
Retiring as a player in 2010, Ollie spent two years as a UConn assistant under Jim Calhoun and took over as boss when Calhoun retired in 2012.
UConn went 20-10 in his first season under Ollie, then won a fourth national title on the show in 2014 and appeared in the tournament in 2015-16. Successive losing seasons followed, multiple players were transferred, and the program was investigated for NCAA misconduct, eventually leading to Ollie being fired by the university for “just cause” in March 2018. An arbitration later ruled that UConn would have to to pay Ollie $11.1 million on his contract and an additional $3.9 million to cover reputation damage and legal fees.
Ollie was named Head of Basketball Coaching and Development for Overtime Elite in April 2021 and left that position in March 2023.
“He was one of those people in my corner who was just telling me I had to be one of those guys to earn everything,” Gortman told The Courant at the NBA Draft Combine. “He was one of the mentors and coaches who instilled in me to make money for everything, and when I go out on the court, I have the same mentality that I’ve always had.”
But could Gortman envision Ollie as a head coach in the NBA?
“For sure,” he said without thinking. “KO, he’s a great trainer, man. People don’t know, but he brings the best out of his players, on and off the pitch. He’ll take you to dinner. He makes sure you’re good on a mental, physical level. KO was a big part of the journey in Overtime Elite.