Ben Howland hasn't hired Korey McCray yet to be his new assistant at UCLA. Per all reports it looks like McCray is the leading and may be the only candidate on Howland's radar to replace Scott Duncan as his new assistant. While nothing is official yet public report like this one in the Atlanta Journal Constitution indicates the contributions McCray canmake at UCLA:
There’s no question McCray would open doors for UCLA, or for any school. The name "Atlanta Celtics" cuts a huge swath in hoops circles, and he can also point to his role as a trainer. In that capacity he worked with Howard, the No. 1 pick in the 2004 draft, and John Wall, the No. 1 pick in 2010. But not everything, McCray said, is about access.
"We have a history of so many pros coming through our program. We’ve been blessed with so many good basketball players. But there’s also someone like me — I was never able to go to the NBA but I was able to get a good education and a Masters degree. One thing we do is special: If a kid plays for us, he doesn’t go to a JUCO. We make it our business to get him into a four-year college."
Stop right there: We make it our business. Isn’t such a statement an admission that the AAU Celtics are what critics insist — a placement service for basketball players?
Said McCray: "I wouldn’t say we’re that powerful. If you’re Duke, people are going to say you get all the calls. That’s part of being successful. We love kids; we don’t just love the superstars."
If McCray is indeed UCLA’s choice, he’ll be representing a program that has won more national championships than Duke and North Carolina combined. He’ll be scrutinized. If he succeeds, he might help change the perception of AAU basketball. And maybe he’s the guy to do it. Said McCray, speaking of his prospective employer: "[Howland] likes how I carry myself as a young man."
A potential McCray hire is something new for UCLA. I don't recall our coaching looking to AAU circuit before. It is easy for some to look down on Howland going this route. I will try to keep an open mind.
If Howland and McCray go the extra mile to make sure Bruins are playing within all NCAA rules and then hauling in outstanding recruits who fit the athletics and academically oriented culture in Westwood, this would work well for UCLA.