After ending a decade-long pro basketball career last year, BJ McKie wanted to coach. But without experience on the bench, USC’s all-time scoring leader needed to network.
McKie spent the past year travelling to college practices and games, mostly in the Southeast, where he wanted to stay so he could watch his son play at Irmo High. In March, he went to the Final Four in Houston to mingle with coaches.
“I wanted people to get to know me,” he said. “There’s only a certain amount of (coaching) slots.”
In the end, McKie found a job with an old friend. He will join Barclay Radebaugh’s staff at Charleston Southern, the Big South school announced Thursday. Radebaugh was an assistant at USC when McKie played for the Gamecocks from 1995-99.
“BJ was a great player and scored a lot of points at South Carolina, but that had nothing to do with getting this job,” Radebaugh said. “The reason we hired BJ is because of his competitive nature and drive to succeed. I know him and trust him.”
Still, the fame McKie built while scoring 2,119 points at USC won’t hurt when he visits high schools, Radebaugh said. McKie will recruit in South Carolina and Georgia and coach the Buccaneers’ guards.
Radebaugh is coming off his best season in five years at Charleston Southern, where he is 69-111. The Buccaneers lost one starter from a team that finished 16-16 overall and 9-9 in the Big South.
“We have got to keep focusing on the positives,” McKie said.
That attitude helped during his search for work. McKie’s pro career included stops in Connecticut, France, Germany, Italy and Israel. “With my name, some people thought this would be easy,” he said. “It wasn’t.”
The three-time first-team All-SEC selection said he approached South Carolina coach Darrin Horn after assistant coach Orlando Early left for N.C. State following last season. Horn chose to promote a former college teammate and assistant coach, Cypheus Bunton.
“I understand he needed a more experienced guy,” McKie said. “I have a lot of respect for coach and what he’s going to do.”
Some coaches suggested to McKie he might need to start as a video coordinator or director of player personnel. He feels lucky to get his start as a full-time assistant.
“I do understand I have a lot of things to learn,” McKie said. “I’m a quick learner.”
Even though he got a job from someone he has known for years, McKie’s journey to gyms and Houston’s Reliant Stadium will pay off, Radebaugh said.
“BJ developed a lot of relationships that will be beneficial in a coaching career,” he said.