Kevin Ollie has never been a particularly great basketball player, but that didn’t stop him managing a long, consistent NBA run. From his rookie year to his career’s twilight, Ollie never averaged more than 6.5 points, 3.6 assists, or 23.1 minutes per game in any given campaign. He only registered a 10+ PER in five of his 13 seasons. Ollie took roster spots that may not have belonged to him, played wholly unspectacular minutes, and now will leave the league without making so much of a blemish on it; after 13 years and 15 teams, Kevin Ollie will finally hang them up and make the transition from player to coach.
According to Mark Deeks (a.k.a. Sham Sports), Ollie will return to his alma mater, UConn, to become an assistant coach. It’s a good move for Kevin, who has long been flagged as one of the “coach-in-playing” candidates the NBA has to offer.
Though Ollie’s NBA career was largely forgettable, he could really thrive as a teacher. Kevin was never the most talented athlete around, but the fact that he was able to stay in the NBA for so long does mean something. Even if the league’s obsession with recycling is partially to blame, Ollie worked hard to stay on the top side of the fringe, and he has a long career to show because of it.
The world goes on, and everything in free agency rightfully trumps Ollie’s transition. Still, Kevin could follow in the footsteps of other relatively unsuccessful NBAers who went on to be prominent coaches. After all, there has to be some secret in hanging around the league for so long despite being a sub-par athlete, an unheralded and undrafted NBA prospect (he actually played two years in the CBA before being picked up by the Mavs for the 1997-1998 season), and lacking in any one specialized skill.