Former Illini basketball star Dee Brown named head coach at Roosevelt University
CHICAGO (CBS) – Former Proviso East and Illini basketball star Dee Brown was hired to be the next men's basketball head coach at Roosevelt University in Chicago.
Brown's is a name synonymous with Chicago basketball. He was an All-American at the University of Illinois where he lead the men's basketball team to the NCAA Championship game in 2005.
After five years as a coaching assistant at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Brown is taking on his first head coaching job at Roosevelt, which is located in the loop.
CBS 2's Matt Zahn caught up with Brown at the NAIA school.
"It's Chicago," Brown said. "It's a great opportunity to lead your own program, especially in the mecca of basketball."
Brown of course knows a thing or two about the mecca of basketball. He was Mr. Basketball at Proviso East before going on to star for the Illini.
"People have seen me grow up here, so they know everything I'm talking about right now is 100," he said.
And what Brown is talking about is building a program that will be as much about what his players do off the court as what they do on it.
"You'll always hear me talk academics," he said. "Degrees do matter. If I didn't have a degree from the University of Illinois, I wouldn't be sitting here.
"Our goals are going to be simple. Get degrees, make a huge impact in the community. I've always been high on going out and making a difference."
Brown said he's learned a lot from the coaches he's worked for along the way, including Bill Self and Bruce Weber at the University of Illinois, and that will influence how he'll coach at Roosevelt.
"You have Bill Self who really believed in me and this little small kid from Maywood, Illinois gets the opportunity to go to the University of Illinois," Brown said. "Bruce Weber stepped in and did a lot for my career. John Groce gave me an opportunity. Steve McClain gave me my first job. Luke Yaklich, he didn't have to keep me on over there. Everything I preach now in basketball and in life, they taught me.
"When I called coach Weber, I told him we're going to play a lot of Weber basketball when you watch my teams. Sharing the basketball, unity, how we work."
Brown's name recognition should help as he tries to build a team at Roosevelt, even if, as he said, not everyone is on Team Brown.
ZAHN: People here know Dee Brown. How much does that help you when you're trying to put together a program, when you're out there recruiting?
BROWN: It's 50/50. Some people want to see me fail. Some people want to see me do well. That's the nature of the beast. That's the nature of where I'm from. But I've got a lot of love. I've always treated people well. There's a lot of people who want to help me based off the relationships I've built over the years."
No matter the ratio of those rooting for Brown, he is confident he will succeed.
"I think Roosevelt U. is a place where people are going to want to come play, for the culture we're going to build, the great staff I'm going to have, and the energy and passion I have for the city," he said.
And Brown, who said he was always a leader on the court when he played, sounds ready to lead this program to success.
While he is confident taking on the role, Brown said he also understands he has a lot to learn about being a head coach. He said he'll rely on friends in the business for advice and would also like to bring in experienced assistants.
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