Dec. 16, 2009
Raphael Chillious joined the Washington coaching staff after a successful career of coaching at South Kent Prep in Connecticut. A minimum of 12 player's he coached are currently playing Division I basketball - including Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning. He is excited to be back in the Northwest and in charge of tutoring the guards. Here is a little bit more about coach "Chill."
GoHuskies.com: How are Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning different now from when you coached them at South Kent Prep?
Raphael Chillious: "The biggest thing is the physical maturity of both. There has been a big growth that way. And then their understanding of what we're trying to do."
GH.com: You coached Josh Boone, Dorrell Wright and Andray Blatche at South Kent Prep before they went to the NBA. What do Isaiah and MBA have to do to join them at that level?
RC: "I think that they both have that kind of talent and the biggest thing is that they have to keep working hard every day in the gym and just build upon their talent level. They both have to build an understanding of how we want to play, which is going to help them at any level. The other piece is that nothing is a guarantee for any player and you can work hard in practice but you have to transfer that in how to be competitive in game situations. The ones who make it are the ones that translate what they're learning in practice and workouts and transfer it into games. If they both do that, they will both have a great opportunity in front of them when they're done."
GH.com: Who are some of the other players you coached at South Kent that are at the college level right now?
RC: "There's a bunch. Gilbert Brown at Pitt, Dele Coker and Rob Thomas at St. John's, Papa Dia and Mike Walker at SMU, Kene Obi at DePaul, Norm Nixon Jr. at Southern, Calvin Haynes at Oregon State, David Hicks at Long Island, Jin Soo Choi and Maryland...there's others out there that I'm missing!"
GH.com: Is coaching at the collegiate level something you always wanted to do?
RC: "I wouldn't say that there was always a thought of it and it was something at the front of my mind. But I thought about it because I was approached so many years in a row with people offering me assistant positions. But, the thing that really pushed me to go ahead and do it was my relationship with Lorenzo. Our relationship was so good and we've known each other for awhile now and I know his coaching philosophy and how he runs his program. Obviously, coming into the UW now is a great opportunity because it is one of the programs on the upswing in not only the Pac-10, but the entire country. The timing and the person was correct."
GH.com: Can you describe your coaching style?
RC: "I would say tough love. Just picture me walking with a guy with my arm around his shoulder and then a foot in his bum. At the same time I'm tough on them, I'm loving on them at the same time."
GH.com: You started your college career at Lafayette, transferred to Pfieffer College, and then back to Lafayette. Can you talk about what that was like?
RC: "It was really easy. The first time I left was a basketball decision, because I didn't think the juniors and seniors we had in the program were as serious as the incoming freshman class. For me, I came from a serious basketball background and winning and doing things to win. So, when I made the decision to leave, it was purely basketball based. But the decision to leave and come back, was purely academic. I understood what it meant to graduate from Lafayette and, not to take anything away from anyone else, but Lafayette is a very tough academic institution with a great degree. I knew one day I wouldn't be playing anymore, so that was an easy decision to make."
GH.com: You made a promise to your coach at Lafayette you would return after you transferred, and true to your word you did, even though it forced you to sit out a season. Is accountability and keeping your word a mantra that you live by and preach to your players?
RC: "No question about it. I'm a high accountability person and if I say I'm going to do something and if it is my power, I'm going to make it happen. I've been around people in and out of coaching that give you empty promises and I know what it feels like on the other end of it. So I do my best to fulfill any promise I make to anyone."
GH.com: What was it like playing in Canada after your college career in the states?
RC: "I was surprised how much talent was up there. There were four or five guy on the team at the University of Victoria that could play Division I at some level. So, the Canada West and CIS leagues were surprisingly tough and it wasn't the same pressures that you had a Division I."
GH.com: What does your family think of Seattle and are you enjoying it in the region?
RC: "My family loves it. With us living in Victoria at one time, we're just a ferry ride away from going back whenever we want and we're now an hour-and-a-half flight away from my wife's mother's house, which makes it a lot easier on family, especially when I'm busy recruiting and travelling so much. And then, I challenge anyone to name five places more beautiful than the greater Seattle metropolitan area with the waters and trees and stuff."
GH.com: It must make it a lot easier to recruit here?
RC: "Much easier because what was tough at South Kent Prep School was that I had to really sell the program and get the kids to trust in me. The area was beautiful, but it was in the middle of nowhere. So a lot of families put their trust in me and the program and the school helping get them in terms of where they wanted to go to college. Here, it's easy to sell Seattle.