Indiana associate coach named head of UIC men’s basketball

UIC men's basketball coach Steve McClain, Indiana vs. North Carolina

Steve McClain, left, new UIC men’s head basketball coach, at a 2012 Indiana game against North Carolina. Photo: Mike Dickbernd / Indiana University

 

Steve McClain, associate head coach of men’s basketball at Indiana University, will be UIC’s new head coach of men’s basketball, UIC athletic director Jim Schmidt announced Monday.

McClain will be introduced at a news conference Wednesday morning. The appointment is subject to approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

“It was clear from my first meeting with Steve that he understood what it would take for UIC to return to the NCAA Tournament,” Schmidt said. “His energy, experience, attention to detail and thirst to win on so many levels moved him ahead of a very strong pool of candidates. He has great commitment to ensuring that our student-athletes experience success in classroom and life.”

“This is a grand slam hire for UIC,” said Chicago Bulls general manager Gar Foreman. “I have known Steve for more than 20 years and he has effected winning everywhere he has been. He is an A+ coach, an A+ recruiter and he has connections all over the country. I think he will fit in well with the UIC community and the fans will love him.”

McClain has 33 years of collegiate coaching experience, including 21 years in Division 1, nine of them as head coach.

New UIC men's basketball coach Steve McClain at Indiana vs. Hillsdale

McClain at a 2013 Indiana game against Hillsdale. “I am looking forward to the Flames rising quickly under Steve’s leadership,” says UIC athletic director Jim Schmidt. Photo: Mike Dickbernd / Indiana University

“His work with coaches Billy Tubbs (Texas Christian University), Jeff Bzdelik (Colorado) and Tom Crean (Indiana), along with his many local and national recruiting connections, proved to me that he can bring excellence back to UIC. I am looking forward to the Flames rising quickly under Steve’s leadership,” Schmidt said.

McClain comes to UIC after five years on the men’s basketball staff at Indiana. During that time he helped the Hoosiers reach back-to-back NCAA Sweet 16s, win the Big Ten regular season title in 2012-13 and receive national recognition for top-25 ranked recruiting classes. He helped develop NBA lottery picks Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh. Oladipo and Zeller earned first-team All-America honors and Oladipo was named Sporting News National Player of the Year.

“UIC just hired a great coach and an even better person,” said Oladipo, now a guard with the Orlando Magic.

Since McClain was promoted to associate head coach in 2012, IU has compiled a 93-45 record with 10 wins against programs ranked in the top 10.

“The past five years with Steve McClain have been nothing short of remarkable,” Crean said. “Steve came at a time when we were still very much in the rebuilding stage and helped us push through the barriers and challenges to reach many great things.

“Steve’s tenacity, teaching and ability to build relationships and recruit are second only to his unyielding work ethic and energy.  Now UIC will be the beneficiaries of this tremendous coach, man and leader.”

Before Indiana, McClain spent three seasons helping rebuild the program at Colorado, including two years as the associate head coach under Bzdelik. The Buffaloes jumped up four spots in the Big 12 standings and finished the 2009-10 season with a 15-16 record, the program’s best mark in four years. McClain helped develop guard Alec Burks, who earned Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors in 2010 and was later selected as No. 12 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Before his time in Boulder, McClain served nine seasons as head coach at the University of Wyoming, guiding the program to one of its most successful periods in school history. He compiled a winning record of 157-115 (.577) and brought the Cowboys to four postseason appearances, including three advancements to second-round play.

In the first round of the 2002 NCAA Tournament, No. 11 seed Wyoming pulled off an improbable upset against No. 6 seed Gonzaga by a final of 73-66, snapping the nation’s longest winning streak of 14 games.

McClain led Wyoming to three 20-win seasons from 2000 to 2003 and was named the Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year in 2002. The Cowboys shared the conference regular season title in 2001, the school’s first since 1988, and won it outright in 2002 with an 11-3 conference record. Overall, the Cowboys finished in the top half of the league in six of McClain’s nine seasons and won 18 or more games during five campaigns.

McClain spent four years as an assistant at TCU under Tubbs, helping the Horned Frogs amass an 81-44 record during his four seasons. In the 1997-98 campaign, TCU was 27-6 and a perfect 14-0 in league play en route to a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the school’s first appearance in 11 years.

Before his days in Division I, McClain enjoyed unprecedented success at the community college level. He spent eight seasons at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. During his three years as head coach, he compiled a 91-16 (.850) record and guided the Hutch Dragons to a National Junior College Championship in 1994. He was named the National Junior College Coach of the Year and still holds the all-time best winning percentage in program history (.850).

McClain’s first head coaching job was at Sioux Empire Junior College in 1984. He is a native of Orient, Iowa. He and his wife, Kim, have a son, Dylan, 12.

“UIC fans will love Coach McClain and his family on and off the court,” said Zeller, now a forward with the Charlotte Hornets.

 

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