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Taliek Brown leaving UConn men's basketball staff for Iona

When Taliek Brown recently interviewed for an opening on the Iona basketball staff, he figured at the very least he'd check an item off his bucket list.

It ended up being much more than that.

Brown, a starting point guard and inspirational team leader on the 2004 UConn national championship team who spent the last four years as the director of player development in Storrs, has been hired as an assistant on Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino's staff.

He'll begin his new job on June 1.

"I did a great job on the interview process," Brown said on Saturday. "I guess coach Pitino believed in me, so he gave me a shot. I didn't know him too well (before the interview). ... But everything worked out. We built a little relationship. Now it's time to move on and take the next step."

Brown believes he's ready for his first job as an assistant on the Division I level. His previous coaching experience includes stints as an assistant at LaGuardia Community College and head coach at August Martin High School, both in New York City.

As director of player development at UConn, Brown had a wide range of responsibilities. He believes he's well-prepared for his new position.

"This was a great time because I've been at UConn for four seasons now and I've polished up my skill-set," Brown said. "I think this is basically the next opportunity. I learned a little bit of everything — how a program operates and runs, scouting, recruiting and player development. Just to be there for the guys and be a role model."

Brown is happy to be taking a job in familiar territory. Iona is located in New Rochelle, N.Y., which is only about 17 miles from his hometown of Corona.

"That's a big bonus," Brown said. "I'm a New York guy. I've got a lot of connections in New York. I'm close to home. That's a winning program."

Basketball has always been a major part of Brown's life.

He's excited for his next step in his career.

"I've been playing since I was eight years old," Brown said. "It just feels like I'm still in the game and I'm still passionate about it. I love the game of basketball. And it's just great to still be involved with everything. And I like helping other people."

A four-year starter for the Huskies, Brown is the only player in program history with at least 1,000 points (1,039), and 700 assists (722). He's still UConn's all-time assist leader.

He'll always be a UConn Husky.

"UConn is my second home," Brown said. "I'll always be associated with UConn."

g.keefe@theday.com

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