Really sad news out of Illinois, where Wayne McClain, one of the most well respected local coaches at both the high school and collegiate levels, passed away on Wednesday after being hospitalized with pneumonia. More info from the Chicago Tribune:
The Illinois basketball community mourned the loss of former Illini assistant coach Wayne McClain, who died Wednesday at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, Ill.
McClain, who was 60 according to Williams Memorial Services in Champaign, had been hospitalized with pneumonia, according to reports.
McClain joined Illinois for the 2001-02 season as an assistant to former Illini coach Bill Self. After Self left for Kansas in 2003, McClain served under coach Bruce Weber through 2011-12 and joined Weber at Kansas State for the next season.
“I don’t know if I have ever been around a better man, whether it was with his family or with his players,” Weber said in a statement. “He had such a huge heart and cared for so many people. He touched so many people’s lives from here (at Kansas State) to Illinois to Peoria (Illinois).
To me, he goes down as an icon for basketball in the state of Illinois whether it is in high school … or helping Illinois win (three) Big Ten championships and advance to the Final Four.”
Former Illinois guard Brandon Paul said on Twitter: “Sad day for the Illini Family. … Great Coach, Father, Husband & much more! Blessed to have been coached by him!”
McClain was a longtime boys basketball coach at Peoria Manual, where he won three consecutive Illinois state titles from 1995-97. He returned to the high school ranks last year as head coach at Champaign Central.