Basketball Greats Gather In Champaign To Remember Wayne McClain

CHAMPAIGN--Former University of Illinois assistant basketball coach and all around Illinois Hoops Legend Wayne McClain was remembered in Champaign Wednesday.

Hundreds of people, including former players and fellow coaches, packed a memorial service to celebrate McClain's life and accomplishments. Many took to the podium to remember a man they say shaped their lives on and off the court.

McClain lost his battle with lung cancer last week, after spending decades coaching high school and college hoops.

"He was a man of good, hard, solid values," said former U of I basketball player, Jarrence Howard. "He just stuck by me, you know. And seeing all my ex-teammates and talking to the players--everything he installed in us, that's what we're going to do is try to carry that on."

Speakers included former U of I head basketball coach Bill Self, who hired McClain as an assistant in 2001, and Bruce Weber, who brought McClain to Kansas State University as Director of Student Development in 2012.

They shared testimonies about McClain's tough-love, no-nonsense attitude whenever he worked the sidelines, as well as the impact he had on everyone he encountered..

"I got to know him as a father first, and then I got to hire him as a coach," said Self, who now coaches at the University of Kansas. "And he was very loyal and a great assistant coach. And certainly one that impacted all the guys lives. And you'll find out today by how many young fellows show up to pay tribute to him."

Governor Pat Quinn also paid tribute to McClain by declaring today Wayne McClain Day in Illinois.

McClain's family also set up a foundation in his honor that aims to mentor student athletes through scholarship and leadership opportunities.

McClain was born in Peoria in 1954, where he played, and then coached, basketball at Peoria Manual. The high school team won three consecutive state titles during his time there.

He was head basketball coach at Champaign Central High School at the time of his death.
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