It’s hard to think of a coach who has risen to prominence faster than UConn’s Kevin Ollie. He led the Huskies to 20 wins in his first season, despite the fact the team wasn’t eligible for the postseason and had every reason to mail in the season. Then, in just his second year, Ollie coached the Huskies to 32 wins and a stunning run from a 7 seed to the 2014 National Championship. Given his incredible success in his short time at UConn and his 13 year career in the NBA, Ollie has become a hot commodity for NBA teams with a coaching vacancy.
Coaching searches are just getting started around the league, and multiple reports have already indicated that Los Angeles Lakers will reach out to Ollie. That is not surprising, and it doesn’t necessarily mean anything yet. However, Ollie is very well respected around the league, and the simple fact that it’s the Lakers calling means he has to listen.
Even if Ollie is not offered the Lakers job or turns it down, this will not be the last time the NBA comes calling. Rumors have been swirling that Scott Brooks will be fired if the Oklahoma City Thunder fail to make a deep playoff run and that Ollie is the leading candidate to replace him. Ollie is very close with Kevin Durant (he played his final season in OKC), making him a fit for both the Thunder and any team that has a plan to pursue Durant in free agency in 2016 (yes, NBA teams are already planning for that summer).
Obviously, UConn fans are cringing with every rumor and story that links their coach to the pros, and if they had their way Ollie would stay at UConn for as long as Jim Calhoun did. However, the allure of the NBA will tough to turn down, and UConn may not get their wish. Personally, I’d be surprised to see Ollie take the Lakers job, as he is coming off the highest of highs at UConn and the Lakers are about to embark on a full fledged rebuilding process. However, if Brooks is fired and the Thunder job opens up, UConn fans should be very, very worried.
For now, all UConn can do is enjoy Ollie while they have him (and maybe give him another raise). It seems likely the Ollie will depart for the NBA at some point, but hopefully for UConn that is not in the immediate future.