The changes to the UConn men’s basketball team’s lineup continue at breakneck speed.
On Tuesday the Huskies lost another player, but added an assistant coach.
Forward Vance Jackson, who spent just one season at UConn, announced that he would be transferring.
Later in the day, the Huskies announced they had hired former Washington associate head coach Raphael Chillious to head coach Kevin Ollie’s coaching staff. Chillious, one of the nation’s top recruiters, will replace the spot recently vacated when Glen Miller was asked to resign.
Jackson is the second Husky to announce plans to transfer. Sophomore center Steven Enoch expressed similar plans last week.
Coming off its first losing season since the 1986-87 campaign, UConn is making a great many changes. The Huskies are also in search of a new strength and conditioning coach after Travis Illian’s recent removal.
“It’s hard for me to say that I will not continue my basketball career at the University of Connecticut,” Jackson wrote on Twitter. “After a bunch of prayers and thinking what’s best for my career I have decided to transfer. Furthermore, I just want to thank the coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to play and as well my teammates for having my back and helping me thrive, you guys are my brothers for life.”
A native of Los Angeles, Jackson averaged 8.1 points per game this season for UConn and was named to the American Athletic Conference’s All-Rookie Team.
Chillious’ hire is seemingly something of a coup for UConn.
“We are very fortunate to be able to add Raphael Chillious to our coaching staff,” Ollie said in a statement released by the school. “He is a high-level recruiter, but that is far from the only thing he brings to us. He has been involved in many aspects of the college game and has so much experience - he’s been a coach for a long time, he’s worked with Nike … I love his energy, his developmental skills and his knowledge of the game, offensively and defensively. Wherever he’s been, he’s created a culture that is a winning culture.”
Ollie and Chillious have known each other for more than 20 years.
“We’ve known each other since I was in the CBA (Continental Basketball Association) and we’ve been friends ever since,” Ollie said. “He knows how to develop players. He’s a coach who can get players ready for the NBA, not only professionally on the court, but professionally off the court as well. I’m grateful that the timing was right for us to work together on a professional level.”
By adding Chillious, the Huskies hope to have landed a top-flight recruiter. Chillious helped Washington land the No. 7-ranked class in 2015, and recruited Markelle Fultz to the Huskies in 2016. Fultz is expected to be one of the top picks in the upcoming NBA Draft.
The 45-year-old Chillious will begin his duties as the Huskies’ associate head coach immediately.
“It’s going to sound cliché, but the thing that made UConn attractive to me is UConn - one of the best brand names in college basketball, four national championships,” Chillious said. “Historically, UConn recruits high-level student-athletes and produces big-time pros.
“Then, obviously, there is Kevin Ollie with his passion for UConn basketball and passion in general and his vision for this program - winning championships. I’ve had a relationship with KO since 1996, so it’s not like I’m coming to work for somebody I don’t know.”
Chillious joined Washington’s staff in 2009, left for a one-year stint on Jay Wright’s staff at Villanova in the 2012-13 season, then returned to Washington and became that program’s associate head coach under Lorenzo Romar. He began looking for work recently when Romar was fired by the West Coast Huskies.
Chillious was a high school coach before becoming a collegiate assistant. He served as the head coach at West Nottingham Academy in Maryland from 2001-03 and at South Kent in Connecticut from 2003-08. At the former, one of his best players was future UConn big man Josh Boone. At South Kent, Boston Celtics star Isaiah Thomas was among his players.
“I feel like have a connection, having coached Josh, and when they won the national championship (2004), I felt like I was on that ride, too,” Chillious said. “I was in San Antonio with him when they won. And, during my time at South Kent in the western part of the state for five years, you kind of live and breathe UConn basketball.”