Going one-on-one with Flames basketball coach Steve McClain

Videography by Anna Dworzecka


Steve McClain has some ambitious goals for his Flames basketball team.

“I look forward to a student body that is involved from day one ’til the last game of the season,” McClain said. “And that’s my mission. That we get back to the day and age when the Pavilion is full. That it’s hard to get a ticket. That it is the place to be.”

McClain was hired March 23 as UIC’s head coach of men’s basketball. He has 33 years of collegiate coaching experience, including 21 years in Division 1 — nine of them as head coach. He comes to UIC after five years on the men’s basketball staff at Indiana, most recently as associate head coach.

We sat down with McClain to discuss basketball, the UIC program and more.

What do you love about coaching?

“The opportunity to be around young people. I think as you go through life, every part is a segment. And coaching is shaping lives, it’s winning and losing, no question, but it’s starting to develop young men, and that’s what I love about coaching.”

What was your perception of UIC when you were at other programs? 

“My impression of this university was that it’s at a time it can explode and grow and do unbelievable things, both on the academic side and the basketball side.”

What do you look for in a player?

“I’m looking for young men, who — maybe it’s an old adage — have a little chip on their shoulder, and are chasing greatness, and want to be around people that’ll help them chase greatness.”

How does UIC get to the top of the Horizon League?

“By running our program to become like a Butler (University) was in this league. You don’t just change coaches and change a culture; you’ve got to change everything. I want to create a culture here where our students are excited. I want that to be a national story. Because then the investment will be like Butler had, where it’s hard to win at the Pavilion.”


Men's Basketball team

“Coaching is shaping lives,” says McClain, who has 33 years of collegiate coaching experience. Photo: UIC Athletics

Lebron or Jordan? 

“There’s no question, the legacy Lebron James has created. But, being in Chicago, I know what Michael Jordan did for this city. And what he meant to this city. So I’m going to go with Michael Jordan, but I also know that Lebron has done a lot for people that doesn’t get publicized. I know they’re both men who have given back to the game, and that means more to me as a coach.”







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