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Thursday, April 15, 2010
Billups endorses McClain

Associated Press

DENVER -- Chauncey Billups says his alma mater should seriously consider promoting Steve McClain to head coach of the University of Colorado men's basketball team to continue the Buffaloes' upswing under Jeff Bzdelik.

The job came open this week when Bzdelik left to coach at Wake Forest.

The former Buffs point guard and current star of the Denver Nuggets said hiring a coach from outside the program could result in several players such as Big 12 freshman of the year Alec Burks leaving the program.

McClain was brought in by Bzdelik in 2007 after spending nearly a decade as head coach at Wyoming. Athletic director Mike Bohn said he plans to interview McClain, among others.

"First of all, I think Bzdelik did a great job of getting that program off to a good start, where it needs to be at, getting some good players in there with Cory (Higgins) and Alec, guys who were great this year for them," Billups said. "So, my only concern would be if they don't stay in-house with McClain and those guys leave, now you're starting back at ground zero again."

So, promoting McClain from associate head coach "is probably the best thing," Billups suggested.

However, Billups, who starred in Boulder from 1995-97, said he wouldn't call Bohn to lobby on behalf of McClain. He said he'd be glad to talk to university officials "if they ask me."

Billups called the CU job a tough one, but said a strong recruiter, combined with new practice facilities, will help put the long-suffering program back in the mix in the Big 12.

The school recently broke ground on a $10.8 million practice facility adjacent to the basketball arena.

Bzdelik said before his departure that he felt the Buffs, who went 15-16 last season, were on the cusp of being a contender to reach the NCAA tournament if he could land a couple of inside recruits to go with his talented group of guards.

Securing those commitments will be harder with Bzdelik gone, although Billups said the new practice facility which will be completed next year should be a magnet for recruits.

"It just shows that they're committed to basketball, that it's a big deal," Billups said. "It's been so long that Colorado basketball has not been a big deal."

Jamahl Mosley, a third-year Nuggets assistant coach who played at Colorado from 1997-01, said he would like to be a candidate for the Buffaloes' vacant head coaching job but can't lobby for consideration because he's busy trying to help the Nuggets succeed in the playoffs.