Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Kevin Ollie on New Contract: "It Takes Time ... When Warde and I Sat Down, We Got it Done"

Kevin Ollie was at Wampanoag Country Club in West Hartford on Tuesday for the Miracle League of Connecticut Golf Classic. Ollie and Jennifer Rizzotti are honorary co-chairs of the event this year, and it would be hard to find a more worthy charity. The Miracle League of Connecticut helps kids with disabilities play in an organized sports environment, with a baseball/softball field at the corner of Trout Brook Drive and Asylum Avenue in West Hartford.

Said Ollie: "It helps physically challenged people to have a chance to go out there and play organized sports. We want a lot of parks that are accessible for people confined to wheelchairs. For them to play a sport -- baseball now -- they do so many other things, I just jumped at the chance to be a part of this. Not only be a part of it, but put my money where my mouth is, also."

"This is a great event. If you've ever been to the park, you see what they do, you see the laughter of the kids, from boys and girls. You see the smiles and you understand what it's really about. It's not about hitting golf balls and this and that, it's about giving a kid a chance at playing organized sports that a lot of folks have said 'No' to."

Obviously, Ollie also talked about the recent five-year, $15 million contract he signed with the university. Here's his pretty funny response to questions about his new contract, and about why it took "so long" to get it done:

Ollie on some other issues:

(on how big a lure the NBA was)

"Not at all. I want to be here at UConn.

(on whether he'll head to the NBA in the future)

"I don't know about the future. The only thing I can do is take care of today. I've got a five-year contract, and I believe I'm going to be here all five years. That's my motto, that's where I want to be at. I want to be here with my family, see my daughter graduate from high school here in Connecticut. Whatever happens is gonna happen. There's gonna be speculation every year. The kids know that I have their best interests in mind and the university knows that I'm going to come out here and (do) as best as I can ... This is a great program, this is where I want to be, where I got my degree at, where I found my wife. There's a lot of great things that have happened to me at the University of Connecticut."

(on his advice to Shabazz Napier)

"Be willing to do something that another man is not willing to do. Every day, whatever that might be. Just get better at something. You've got to be willing to sacrifice and do something that somebody's not willing to do. That's what I wanted to tell him. When you open your mouth, it's an interview. You've got to understand, people are always watching. Work ethic first, professionalism second and humility third. And I think humility is the first out of all of them. He went through a great interview process at the Chicago combines, I think he had his first workout the other day with Phoenix ... The only thing he needs is prayers. 'Bazz is gonna handle everything else. He's a great basketball player, but more than anything else, he's a great leader."

(on avoiding a championship hangover)

"I always talk about hangovers after you have a big game. You've got to keep coming back. You can't get drunk off success. At the end of the day, we've got a lot of hungry guys. Some guys didn't play as much as they wanted to play. They're gonna stay hungry. You just try to motivate and drive guys, and at the end of the day, you want them to have the best chance possible. That's how I can screw it up, not giving every guy opportunity. Now, you can screw it up, if you don't work at the opportunity given. It's a clean slate. If you want to eat, pull up your chair to the table and eat."

(on Amida Brimah's rehab)

"He's doing good. He's growing an Afro, so I guess that's good. His shoulder looks good, he's out of his harness. Of course, he can't do anything physically right now, but we've got the best physical trainer, James Doran. He's gonna have Amida right at the right time, and he's gonna get back on the floor and dominate. I think he's gonna have a great sophomore season. I really believe that."

Also, it's official: the UConn men and women will visit the White House next Monday, June 9.

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