Kim English knows he still could be picking up a paycheck somewhere with his playing skills. There likely will be more than a few times this season when his new protégés on the Colorado men's basketball team are challenged to a few post-practice one-on-one showdowns.
But while English still believes in his skills, he also believes that coaching was the calling he needed to pursue. Instead of continuing to chase his hoops dreams across Europe, English decided to embark on a coaching career. Still just 29-years old, he was hired in August as the latest assistant on head coach Tad Boyle's CU staff.
"I wanted to get started in my coaching career," English said. "If I wasn't going to be in the NBA...I just wasn't getting that itch satisfied playing overseas. I didn't feel like I was learning as much as I was in the NBA. I follow college basketball closely, and being a college coach has been my dream for a long time. I felt I wanted to get that process started sooner than later.
"I wanted to help teach all these guys things I learned in the process in becoming an NBA player. To pass on information and be able to help, that's why I gave it up."
English arrived in place of former associate head coach Jean Prioleau, a member of Boyle's staff since he arrived before the 2010-11 season who took the head coach position at San Jose State this summer.
Not so long ago English was a standout player at Missouri, winning the Most Outstanding Player award at the Big 12 Conference tournament in 2012 while leading the Tigers to the title before getting selected a few months later in the second round of the NBA draft by Detroit. English played in 41 games with the Pistons during the 2012-13 season, averaging 2.9 points and 9.9 minutes.
English spent the next two seasons traveling the road familiar to so many college standouts, turning in stints with pro teams in Italy, France, and Venezuela. At a time in life when most players are doing whatever they can to impress any possible future employer, English already was looking at the big picture in his life.
He knew that road was going to be paved by coaching. English spent two years on the staff at Tulsa — first as the program's director of operations, then as an assistant coach — before getting the job offer from Boyle about two months ago.
"This is a special place in a special league in a special town," English said. "I think the league is at an all-time high and it's growing. Phenomenal cities, great recruiting grounds, and really great players on really good teams with really good coaches. This was definitely an important move in my career."
Boyle first spoke with English roughly a year and a half ago, when CU was in the process of recruiting former Missouri starter Namon Wright, but the pair didn't meet until earlier this year when, purely by happenstance, they sat next to one another during a recruiting showcase in Hampton, Va. The younger coach immediately impressed Boyle with his vision and passion. When Prioleau made the move to San Jose, English was on the receiving end of Boyle's first call.
English's arrival marks the second consecutive year Boyle has had to replace one of his original staff members, following the departure of Rodney Billups to the University of Denver last year. In English, the Buffs add a voice to the huddle who not long ago was in the exact same position as CU's players.
"I love his professionalism and just how dedicated he is to the game," Boyle said. "You don't see guys at his age that have the maturity and the passion to coach that he has. That comes through loud and clear to me."