Ex-Illini McClain to coach Swarm

Ex-Illini McClain to coach Swarm

CHAMPAIGN — Sergio McClain wants to coach. That much is clear.

A season as an assistant at Champaign Central under his father, the late Wayne McClain, was the former Illini’s reintroduction to the sidelines four years after his one-season stint at Parkland.

A year as the interim head coach at Central followed.

Then a season at Dade Christian School in Miami last year after the Maroons’ job went to Jeff Finke.

Now McClain is returning to Champaign to lead the Champaign Swarm in the Midwest Professional Basketball Association.

“They reached out,” McClain said about MPBA commissioner Ed Schumer and associate commissioner A.J. Guyton, himself a Peoria native like McClain. “I’ve had good relationships with those guys prior in the (Independent Basketball Association). They were familiar with my coaching style. They were impressed with what I did in the (IBA) and having a good rapport with Mr. Schumer and Mr. Guyton allowed me the opportunity to coach.”

McClain is the national sports training director for International Sports Training Institute in Miami.

The Champaign Swarm season lines up with the time McClain said ISTI allowed him to return to Illinois to develop his business.

“Any time God gives you a door, an opportunity, you should take it,” McClain said. “It’s during my offseason with my job in Miami. I just felt like it couldn’t hurt in the direction I’m trying to move and being a basketball coach on different levels.”

McClain said the Swarm would have that familiar McClain-coached style.

His approach is similar to that of his father, who was credited by several of his Central players as making more of a difference than just on the basketball court during his single season as coach.

“Giving them some keys to success and just trying to guide them down the right path of where they want to be in life,” McClain said was his goal with the Swarm. “I think that’s the most important thing. It’s not always about what’s on the court. At the end of the day, the ball stops dribbling and you’ve got to mentor these individuals to be professionals.”

On the court, though, McClain said he’ll expect his team to compete.

“They’re going to get after it defensively, and they’re going to play team basketball,” he said. “It’s as simple as that.”

The MPBA will hold a player combine Nov. 20 in Romeoville, giving the teams in attendance a chance to fill out their rosters. McClain said he’d likely have a couple local players on the team as well.

“There’s some pretty good talent in Champaign already,” McClain said. “Mixing (players taken at the combine) with the talent we have in Champaign, we should have a competitive team.”

This is McClain’s third foray into minor league basketball.

He coached the Peoria Kings in the American Basketball Association in 2006-07 and the Springfield Xpress in the IBA in 2013.

“Sergio will bring toughness and grit, I have no doubt,” Guyton said in a release. “He will bring a competitive team to Champaign, and because he’s already coached in the minor leagues, the transition should be seamless. I believe he will take full opportunity to be a head coach at this level once again.”