The desire to coach was a feeling that slowly took hold in Chris Duhon.
Even as a Bulls rookie out of Duke in 2004, he noticed how former coach Scott Skiles prepared him for each game and thought coaching could be a future profession.
"It was kind of a progressive thing," Duhon said. "In Chicago with (Skiles), I was impressed with job he did. It intrigued me. Coach (Mike) D'Antoni in New York, it started building and building. Then being under Stan Van Gundy in Orlando, I thought this is something I (might want to do)."
Duhon, who played four seasons for the Bulls and retired from the NBA in 2013, is entering his fourth year as a college basketball assistant. He was hired last week as an assistant at Illinois State under head coach Dan Muller.
"He did his due diligence," Duhon said. "We had multiple conversations and felt like it was something that could work. (Illinois State) has a great tradition. It's a basketball town. They play at a high level. This is a place that we can win. We can make some noise and make a run at winning a national champion."
The Redbirds return last season's core including all-Missouri Valley Conference forwards Phil Fayne (15.6 points per game) and Milik Yarbrough (16.6 points per game), and 3-point ace Keyshawn Evans (41.9 percent).
Duhon is searching for a new home around Normal, Ill., and getting acclimated with the area before his wife and four children - ages 9, 4-year-old twins, and 2 - join him.
He also met with players and worked out with the team, coming away impressed with the talent on a squad looking for its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1998. The Redbirds (18-15) lost in last season's MVC tournament championship game to Loyola - a team that it should be battling for the league title this season.
"Things have been great," Duhon said. "The guys are good. They underachieved last year record-wise. At end of year, they were able to get it together a little more but they're hungrier. We have veteran leadership there. It's important for our seniors to lead them and guide them."
The opportunity with the Redbirds could be viewed as a second chance for Duhon. He left Marshall following a January 2017 arrest for driving on a license that had been revoked for driving under the influence in 2015, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
"I'm very thankful and I appreciate getting another chance," Duhon said. "I've learned from mistakes I've made and I'm moving on and starting this next chapter. ... I think that's the thing, you've got to get past that. You can't worry about what others think. You've got to worry about what's in front of you."
As an assistant at Marshall from 2014-2017, Duhon helped build a program that had a nine-win turnaround in three seasons. He helped recruit and develop several players on last season's NCAA Tournament team that upset Wichita State in the first round.
"I love the game. I'm a student of the game," Duhon said. "(I enjoy) developing players and developing their talent."
The point guard won a 2001 national championship with Duke and finished his career as the program's all-time leader in steals (300) and minutes (4,813) and finished second in career assists (819).
Duhon was taken with the No. 38 pick by the Bulls and played for the Knicks, Magic and Lakers before he retired, averaging 6.5 points and 4.4 assists in his career.
"I really enjoyed my time with the Bulls," he said. "I was fortunate to have great teammates. My rookie year, us being really young and still be able to have the fourth-best record in the league was a great accomplishment."
Duhon said he hopes to land recruits by selling them on his credentials. But he said he won't rely on them.
"My responsibility is to be aggressive in recruiting process and reach out," he said. "My age and not too far removed, I'm able to connect with guys a lot easier. At the same time, it comes down to locking in and being aggressive."
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