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UCLA Basketball Hires New Assistant Coach

CBH added a solid choice to his bench.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
CBH added a solid choice to his bench. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Getty Images

UCLA Basketball Coach Ben Howland rounded out his coaching staff today with the hire of Korey McCray.

UCLA men's basketball head coach, Ben Howland, announced today the hiring of Korey McCray to the post of assistant coach. McCray replaces Scott Duncan, who left to become Larry Shyatt's associate head coach at Wyoming on April 5, 2011.

McCray, who spent the 2007-08 season as an assistant coach at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., for head coach Mark Slonaker, has been working since 2004 as a skill development trainer with some of the NBA's biggest stars. Working with the Atlanta and Georgia-based NBA athletes, he created tailor-made, off-season training programs for a roster of talented players like Dwight Howard, John Wall, Javaris Crittenton, Anthony Morrow, Jarrett Jack, Acie Law, Von Wafer, Mario West and Damien Wilkins, to name a few.  . . .

. . . "I'm extremely excited to be at UCLA," McCray said. "It is an amazing University and has a great history in basketball, academics and throughout the entire athletic program. I couldn't be at a better place. I believe in education and developing student-athletes into a well-rounded person, including basketball, education, values, morals, personal relationships. There is no place better that represents that than UCLA."

. . .

McCray has served different stints as the CEO and Head Coach of the Atlanta Celtics since 1999. The Atlanta Celtics is an AAU travelling team that his father, Karl McCray, co-founded in 1990 with Wallace Prather. The Atlanta Celtics is a non-profit, grassroots basketball program to encourage children to make good decisions utilizing the team sport of basketball as a channel to teach life-changing skills. He led his 15 and Under team to a national title in 2009 and has consistently produced teams at all ages ranked in the top 10 in the country.

More after the jump.

Unlike the chaotic misstep filled process of CRN, CBH knew what he was doing and this was an open secret for a long time.  As Bruin Report Online has in a free story (emphasis mine):

McCray is known mostly for being a coach with one of the best AAU programs in the country, the Atlanta Celtics.

BRO reported that Howland had pretty much decided on McCray as soon as Scott Duncan left UCLA for Wyoming.

The Celtics have produced players such as Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Javaris Crittenton, and Derrick Favors. . . .

Currently in the Atlanta Celti program are a couple of players UCLA has been recruiting – Jordan Adams, the 6-5 small forward from Mouth of Wilson (Virg.) Oak Hill, and 6-7 power forward William Goodwin

Whether McCray brings any players along with him is not known.  William "Shaq" Goodwin is the #12 ranked player in the country, an old video of him is here

However, it is almost certain that McCray brings back a nationwide recruiting creditability that was sadly lacking in recent years.  It will be interesting to see if McCray can help bring in some of the Eastern talent, as the West is in a relatively down period. 

This is one of the reasons that UCLA may have waited to hire McCray.  Until he was an employee, he was not bound by the NCAA rules and free to talk and meet with potential players outside NCAA rules.  As an AAU coach, he meets a lot of the best.  

Of course, McCray is not just a recruiter.  He is also a solid individual skills coach use to working with NBA players.

 He is notable for mentoring some of the top NBA talent from the southern U.S.; the official UCLA release lists Dwight Howard, John Wall, Javaris Crittenton, Anthony Morrow, Jarrett Jack, Acie Law, Von Wafer, Mario West and Damien Wilkins as some of McCray’s personal pupils.

 To my mind on paper this is a great hire and smartly done. Kudos to CBH.