Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Howland Hires McCray as Assistant

Thanks to ProudButDisgusted for posting on Bruin Zone.

Howland Hires McCray as Assistant

By Tracy Pierson
BRO.com, ucla.scout.com
Posted Jun 7, 2011

Long known that it would happen, Bruin Report Online has learned that Ben Howland has hired Korey McCray as the new UCLA assistant basketball coach...

Bruin Report Online has learned that UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland has hired Korey McCray as his new assistant coach.
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.

McCray has personally worked with Howard, John Wall and other NBA players.

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.
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, from Decatur (Georg.) Southwest Dekalb.

UCLA's Official Release:

LOS ANGELES - 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 very excited to be announcing that Korey McCray has joined our staff," Howland said. "I'm looking forward to him developing in every area. He will be a great asset in the development and mentoring of our players, in on the floor coaching and in recruiting."

McCray was a student-athlete at Mercer University, playing all four years for Coach Slonaker for the Mercer Bears basketball team. He was named team captain for the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 campaigns. He earned his bachelor's degree in communications from Mercer with a major in Theatre and Arts and a minor in Christianity. He went on to attain his master's degree in Adult Education with a minor in Higher Education from Florida State in 2004.

While at Florida State, he served two seasons (2002-03 to 2003-04) as a graduate assistant coach for the men's basketball team and Coach Leonard Hamilton. The Seminoles reached the NIT in 2003.

"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."

After McCray graduated from Florida State, he served as an assistant coach under Greg Heiar at Chipola College in Marianna, Fla., for the 2004-05 season. That year, the Indians lost in the semifinals of the National Junior College Championships.


An April 20, 2011 article on McCray possibly heading to UCLA on AJC.com.

Korey McCray: From the AAU Atlanta Celtics to regal UCLA?

by Mark Bradley
2:12 pm April 20, 2011

The college basketball world is a-twitter with word, first reported by Jeff Goodman of FoxSports, that the proudest program in the land stands ready to offer an assistant coach’s job to someone known for his work in AAU circles. The program is UCLA. The AAU man is Korey McCray, the 32-year-old CEO of the Atlanta Celtics.

“I’m right there in the running,” said McCray, speaking of the UCLA post. “I’m probably the favorite right now.”

McCray played college basketball at Mercer and served as assistant there under Mark Slonaker. He was a graduate assistant under Leonard Hamilton at Florida State and also worked at Chipola (Fla.) College. Today McCray coaches the sophomore boys’ team for the summer-league Celtics — he once played for them; his father Karl helped found the club in 1990 with the late Wallace Prather and remains its president — and runs a basketball training program called Fundamentals.

You might never have seen the Atlanta Celtics play, but you’ve seen dozens of alums. Dwight Howard, Josh Smith and Randolph Morris once comprised the Celtics’ front line. Derrick Favors was a Celtic. So were B.J. Elder and Isma’il Muhammad, members of Georgia Tech’s 2004 Final Four team. Joe Johnson and Amare Stoudemire wore the Green. (No, you don’t have to be from Atlanta or even Georgia to be a Celtic.) Two former Celtics — Trey Thompkins of Georgia and Chris Singleton of Florida State — figure to be first-round picks in the June NBA draft.

Over the past decade, debate has raged over whether AAU clubs have become too mighty. The big ones have their own shoe deals — the Celtics are an adidas team, just like UCLA — and some believe AAU coaches have come to influence recruits’ decisions more than family (and far more than high school coaches). For UCLA to hire McCray would be, depending on your slant, either a breakthrough moment or a sign that even a collegiate giant is willing to stoop to sign players.

Said McCray: “AAU guys get such a bad rap. I would embrace it. I’ve been in basketball my whole life. I have my Masters in adult education. I love summer basketball … If that’s how they’re going to label me, I hope to represent AAU basketball very well.”

Then: “I’m going there to learn from Coach [Ben] Howland. I’m going there with a mindset to learn. And I’ve got to be a good recruiter.”

Technically, McCray doesn’t yet have the job. He said he “networked” with Howland at the Final Four, but he hasn’t been to Westwood for a formal interview. McCray expects that to come next month, though UCLA might not name its new assistant until June.

A call to UCLA seeking a comment from Howland was unavailing. Said Bruins spokesman Marc Dellins: “We never talk about candidates for a job until a hire is made.”

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.”

And a comment by "Terry" that was posted on Bruin Zone by BruinJake.

April 23rd, 2011
7:52 pm

Any college basketball program in the nation would be blessed and fortunate to have Korey McCray join their program. Some of the comments that people post here are just guesswork and false assumptions about Korey McCray, and the Atlanta Celtics because their negative comments show that they clearly do not know who Korey is or who the Atlanta Celtics are either. For the last 3 years my son has been fortunate to play for Korey and his dad Karl on the Celtics. The Celtics are a first-class, top-notch organization in every regard because quality people like Korey and Karl run the Celtics with a lot of pride, integrity, hard work, and self-sacrifice. The Celtics win championships because of the strong Christian foundation of quality gentleman like Korey and his dad who instill positive core values into the student-athletes. The Celtics are so successful for the last 20+ years because of the class, professionalism, and total commitment that the gentlemen running the Celtics display. I have attended just about every single one of my son’s Celtic’s practices, all of the local games, and as many of the travel tourneys as I could over the years. I know who Korey and the Celtics are and since I want the best for my son I have always felt proud that we have been a member of the Atlanta Celtics. Korey has taken his own personal time and effort to train my son for dozens and dozens of workouts and helped him develop as a player and a young man. Even though my son was just a rising 9th grader and we honestly could not afford to pay Korey for his training Korey would train my son for free, spend extra time with him, mentor my son about issues outside of basketball, and Korey would even call us all of the time to check with us to make sure that we were on the way to the gym because he didn’t want my son to miss any training time. The most that we could ever pay Korey for all of that training was a Subway sandwich for lunch so he was always looking out for my son for only one reason: Korey McCray and the Atlanta Celtics are the real deal and they care about people and especially their student-athletes. As a single dad it has been a blessing to have such a top organization that cared about my son helping me to move him towards positive goals and a college scholarship.

When we would arrive at the gym to train with Korey he would always be there already working hard and sweat down while wrapping up with one of his NBA players, overseas pros, or helping D-I players get ready for NBA camps. Korey would include my son in drills and workouts with some of these top players including Derrick Favors before he went to GT. And Korey would work just as hard and intensely training the younger players like my son as he did the NBA players even though I am pretty sure the other parents like me couldn’t afford to pay Korey anything. But Korey would train them out of love for the young student-athletes and helping them to build a pathway to college for themselves. How many people do any of you know who constantly give tirelessly of themselves for thousands of hours to help young people without receiving a single dime of compensation?! Korey McCray gives to young student-athletes like that 24/7, all year long, year after year. Korey’s team has won numerous championships including the Adidas Super 64 national championship because players and families know who is real and we respond by trying to give as much as Korey does to the cause. Korey is just a winner on the court and off the court. Period. And this fact is undisputed. Korey will continue to win at any level because of who he is as an individual. He is a first-class, hard-working, trustworthy, caring person who only understands one concept: WINNING. Korey has a will to win that will take him and whatever program that he joins to the next level of success.

I know Korey and the Celtics both on and off the court and I have had the pleasure of experiencing how well these gentleman look out for young student-athletes like my son. How many great things can I say about Karl, Korey, and the entire Celtics staff and the organization? I could go on for a very long time about what a great program the Celtics are and what a winner Korey is but for me the question is not whether an “AAU guy” like Korey McCray can contribute to the success of UCLA or any other college basketball program because Korey will help any team at any level to win just as certainly as the sun will rise in the morning. So for me the real question is can UCLA or some other fortunate college program that gets Korey’s talents be as good to Korey and return as much to Korey’s success as Korey will give to the program. Korey is just one of those people who always gives and gives way more than he gets because Korey does it out of love, dedication, and pride in himself and his organization. He is that rare person who you come across that has a total dedication in words, thoughts, and actions to success at every level. Korey does not win by accident, Korey wins by choice. Again, there is not a question that Korey is ready for UCLA or any other program because Korey is definitely ready. The question is can UCLA elevate itself to the higher, winning standards of Korey McCray? Korey does not tolerate anything less than complete dedication and commitment to success. The Bruins will need to elevate itself if they hope to meet Korey’s standards. Korey is the kind of competitor that John Wooden would admire and want in his program so Ben Howland is very smart in finding a diamond in the rough like Korey McCray. Korey will recruit winning, quality student-athletes because people can tell who Korey is and they want to be a part of what Korey is building and they know that they can trust Korey to look out for their best interests.

For more on Assistant Coach Korey McCray, check out earlier post (link)

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