The next Tad Boyle might already be sitting on the end of the Colorado bench.
Rodney Billups, the program's bright young director of operations, aspires to be a head coach in major college basketball, or perhaps even the NBA.
At this point there is no official plan in place to make Billups a CU assistant. That doesn't mean he's not being groomed to be a coach down the road.
"I think it helps from a ground zero point of view," Billups said of his current job description, which includes taking care of all the Buffs' travel plans, organizing summer camps and a mountain of other administrative tasks that pop up throughout the year. "I'm learning how to operate a program from the smallest position to the biggest position."
Boyle began his college coaching career in a similar position working for Jerry Green at Oregon and Tennessee. Eventually, his opportunity to become an assistant coach came under Mark Turgeon at Jacksonville State and Wichita State.
During the Buffs' run through the Pac-12 Tournament into the NCAA Tournament, Boyle raved about the quality work of assistants Jean Prioleau, Mike Rohn and Tom Abatemarco did in handling the scouting reports and making sure the players were up to speed with game plans on the fly.
CU's head coach says Billups, 29, also has a bright future on the bench.
"Rodney is going to be a great coach. He has the unique ability to work with a lot of different people," Boyle said. "I think this job has been good for him because he has developed a lot of relationships on campus and within our athletic department and he's a great ambassador for our program."
Per NCAA rules, as the director of basketball operations Billups can observe practices, but he is not allowed to coach players on the floor. He is allowed to huddle with Boyle and the assistants during timeouts, where he provides his two cents, but he's not allowed to coach the players during games.
And when recruits make official visits to CU, Billups is allowed to host them and give tours of the campus and the facilities. However, the articulate former University of Denver point guard is not allowed to go on the road recruiting.
"Rodney is a people person, which is going to make him a great recruiter," Boyle predicts. "He has a great work ethic and he doesn't have a sense of entitlement. He has a lot of things going for him."
Prioleau suffered a serious knee injury last summer and was unable to travel. The NCAA accepted a petition from CU asking that Billups be allowed to step in and recruit during the critical July period.
"It was exactly what I expected it to be," said Billups, who graduated from DU with a degree in business in 2005. "I enjoy recruiting. I think I'm at the right age to get a kid to come to Colorado. I can speak their language and I'm not too far removed from my playing days. I can relate to them."
CU will welcome a six-man 2012 recruiting class to campus in June that is ranked in the top 25 by ESPN.
Boyle and his assistants are all known as strong recruiters. The staff has taken full advantage of the move to the Pac-12 by attracting high-end talent from Southern California and also keeping the best homegrown prospects in Colorado.
The program also has compiled a 48-26 record over the last two seasons with an appearance in the NIT semifinals, a Pac-12 Tournament championship, and an NCAA Tournament appearance.
Billups, the younger brother of Buffs legend and 15-year NBA veteran Chauncey Billups, is making a name for himself in the business as a part of this new era of CU basketball.
"When we brought him on board, Rodney and I talked about how it was his job to create an image for himself and not ride on Chauncey's name," Boyle said. "He has done a good job of that. Rodney and I talk about 10 things during the day, and a lot of times Chauncey isn't even a part of it. Obviously, it's nice to be able to keep up with Chauncey's life having Rodney on staff, but that's an afterthought."
Most of the players were toddlers when "Mr. Big Shot" was leading the Buffs to the Big Dance 15 years ago. They respect the younger Billups for the thankless behind-the-scenes work he does for them on a daily basis.
"We probably wouldn't eat if it wasn't for him. He just makes everything possible," freshman guard Askia Booker said. "What people don't know is he's a great coach. He knows the game just as well as any other coach out here. I'm not going to say anything right now, but I could see him being a coach somewhere someday."
Rodney Billups has the same long-term vision for his career.
"That's the plan. Coach Boyle and the rest of the staff are helping me along," he said. "I'm just waiting for my chance whenever that may be. That may be next year, the following year, or 10 years from now. But I'll be ready."