MBB: UGA Officially Announces New Assistant Coach

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MBB: UGA Officially Announces New Assistant Coach

Steve McClain
Photo: YouTube capture
Steve McClain
Photo: YouTube capture

Steve McClain has joined the Georgia Basketball staff as an assistant coach, head coach Tom Crean announced on Tuesday. McClain, who has spent the past five seasons as head coach at the University of Illinois Chicago, was a member of Crean’s coaching staff at Indiana from 2010-15.

“We are really excited to add Steve McClain to our Georgia Basketball family and the University of Georgia community,” Crean said. “We have known each other over 30 years, and he was a huge part of what we did at Indiana during some great times. Steve was a part of a Big Ten Championship, three NCAA Tournaments and two Sweet 16s before he left to become the head coach at Illinois Chicago. 

“Steve is beyond tireless and driven for excellence,” Crean continued. “He has such a strong basketball mind, intensity, determination and genuine care for his players as people first. He finished within a few points of winning the Horizon League Championship in March, and it was a lot of fun to watch them get healthy and get better. The last four years at Illinois Chicago were the best four years of cumulative success since the early ‘90s. Steve gets it. 

“Steve, along with his wife Kim and his son, Dylan, are going to really add to our entire program’s makeup and atmosphere. We are ecstatic to have them with us.”

All told, McClain sports 38 seasons of collegiate experience, including 17 as a head coach. After two seasons as an assistant coach at then-NAIA Chadron State College, his alma mater, McClain spent 10 campaigns at the junior college level. He led Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College to the 1994 NJCAA National Championship and earned National Coach of the Year honors before moving to Division I basketball. McClain has since coached at TCU (1994-98), Wyoming (1998-07), Colorado (2007-10), Indiana (2010-15) and UIC (2015-20).

“There’s no question I’m excited to get back with Coach Crean and be a part of the University of Georgia Athletic Department family,” McClain said. “It may be coincidence or it may be the way things were supposed to happen, but year three is the same time I got the opportunity to go to Indiana with Coach. Now he as goes into year three at Georgia, Kim and I are excited to get there and be a part of Georgia Basketball. I’m eager to recruit Georgia and throughout the Southern states, and I’m anxious to get there and build relationships with the current players both on and off the court.”

McClain led UIC to success throughout his tenure. The Flames won 16 or more games during each of McClain’s last four seasons in Chicago, just the second time UIC did so in the program’s 73 seasons all time. The Flames earned postseason bids twice under McClain, reaching the semifinals of the 2017 CBI and finishing as runner-up in the 2018 CIT. UIC also advanced to the championship game of the 2020 Horizon League Tournament, a first for the Flames since 2004.

The UIC record books were rewritten significantly on McClain’s watch, with team season records for points (2,749 in 2016-17), 3-point field goals (303 in 2018-19), rebounds (1,426 in 2016-17), assists (524 in 2016-17) and blocks (242 in 2017-18).

Individually, Flames earned a plethora of Horizon League honors over the past five seasons, headlined by Dikembe Dixson as 2016 Freshman of the Year, Tai Odiase as 2017 and 2018 Defensive Player of the Year and Godwin Boahen as 2018 6th Man of the Year. Tarkus Ferguson was named All-Freshman in 2017 and All-Horizon League in 2019 and 2020 after leading the Flames in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals each of the past two seasons.

While McClain was at Indiana, the Hoosiers reached three NCAA Tournaments, including back-to-back “Sweet 16s” in 2012 and 2013, and won the outright Big Ten Championship in 2013. He helped Indiana land recruiting classes ranked No. 7 in 2012, No. 4 in 2013 and No. 21 in 2014 and then played a pivotal role in developing NBA lottery picks Victor Oladipo (No. 2 overall by Orlando in 2013), Cody Zeller (No. 4 overall by Charlotte in 2013) and Noah Vonleh (No. 9 overall by Charlotte in 2014). Oladipo and Zeller earned first-team All-America honors, and Oladipo was named Sporting News National Player of the Year in 2013.

Before Indiana, McClain spent three seasons at Colorado, including two years as the associate head coach. He helped develop guard Alec Burks, who earned Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors in 2010 and was later selected by the Utah Jazz with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

McClain was head coach at Wyoming for nine seasons and led the Cowboys to one of their most successful periods ever. He is one of only two coaches in school history to post three consecutive 20-win seasons. He led the Cowboys to Mountain West Conference Championships in 2001 and 2002 and four postseason appearances. Wyoming reached the 2002 NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Round of 32 after upsetting Gonzaga, snapping the nation’s longest winning streak of 14 games at the time. The Cowboys also secured NIT bids in 1999, 2001 and 2003, advancing to the Round of 16 twice.

McClain helped a dramatic turnaround as an assistant coach at TCU. The season prior to his arrival, the Horned Frogs finished 7-20. Over the next four seasons, TCU was a combined 81-44 with postseason bids to the 1997 NIT and 1998 NCAA Tournament. In McClain’s final season in Fort Worth, the Horned Frogs finished No. 15 in the final Associated Press poll after reaching the NCAA Tournament, becoming the first team to go undefeated in Western Athletic Conference (WAC) history and leading the nation in scoring at 97.2 points per game.

McClain compiled a 91-16 (.850) record in three seasons at head coach at Hutchinson CC from 1991-94. He served as an assistant coach at Hutchinson for five seasons from 1986-91, helping guide the Dragons to the 1988 national title. McClain was also an assistant coach at Independence (Kansas) Community College (1985) and Sioux Empire Junior College in Iowa (1984). He began his coaching career while still an undergraduate student at Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska, from 1982-84.

A native of Orient, Iowa, McClain is married to the former Kim Van Asselt. The McClains have a son, Dylan (18).

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Greg is closing in on 11 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.