It wasn't long ago that Rodney Billups was looking forward to a career as a businessman.

"I never thought I'd coach," he said.

Today, the 31-year-old Billups looks good sitting in his office, but he's glad to be wearing shorts and a T-shirt to work instead of a suit and tie.

The youngest member of the Colorado men's basketball coaching staff, Billups is preparing for his fifth season in Boulder and couldn't be happier.

"Basketball has trumped (the business world) 10 times," he said. "Now that I've found coaching, it's been great."

Billups, of course, is the younger brother of Chauncey Billups, a legendary high school player from Denver who went on to star at CU and is gearing up for his 18th season in the NBA.

Like his brother, Rodney starred at George Washington High School. He then had a solid career at the University of Denver, where he still ranks among the top five in career assists and steals.

"I had a pretty good career," said Rodney, who played two years overseas, in Latvia and Finland, after college. "I tell everybody all the time that if my mom wasn't diagnosed with cancer, I think I would still be playing. But, things happen for a reason."

His mother is now in her fourth year of remission, Rodney said, and he's well on his way to establishing himself in the coaching world.


"He's developed tremendously," said Jean Prioleau, CU's associate head coach. "Coming from not being a coach to being a Division I coach, or any coach, is different. It's a change, and he's experienced that change and he's taken it and he's running with it and doing a great job."

Four years ago, Rodney was in the process of helping his brother launch the Chauncey Billups Elite Basketball Academy in Denver when he got a call from Jeff Bzdelik, who was CU's head coach at the time. Bzdelik talked to Rodney about the director of basketball operations vacancy, but those talks never went anywhere, as Bzdelik resigned from CU and went to Wake Forest.

When CU hired Tad Boyle, Rodney got a call from the new coach.

"He and I had lunch and it's been history ever since," said Rodney, who was hired as the director of basketball operations in 2010.

Considering he had no coaching experience prior to coming to CU, Rodney said he has no doubt that being Chauncey's brother helped him land in Boulder.

"Chauncey has almost made it like we're basketball royalty in Colorado," Rodney said. "It's really fortunate to have that, for me especially starting my career now as a coach. I think I've been placed on a couple steps higher on the ladder than most people as they start their career."

Getting the job is one thing, though. Keeping it is another, and Rodney is proud of the work he's done at CU to make a name for himself.

"Everybody needs a little help getting that job, but you have to do it yourself to keep it," he said. "Because I'm Chauncey's brother doesn't mean I was supposed to be here for four years."

In fact, after two years as director of basketball operations, Rodney was promoted to an assistant coaching position. That allowed him to do some things he couldn't as director of operations, such as coaching on the floor during practice and going on the road to recruit. He's also heavily involved in developing scouting reports of upcoming opponents.

"Now I have a lot more pressure," he said. "I love it."

And, the Buffs love having him on board. He's still young enough to relate to the players, bright enough and mature enough to relate to the other coaches on staff (who are all older and married with children) and savvy enough on the recruiting trail to keep CU in the hunt for top talent. He played a significant role in former Denver East guard Dominique Collier choosing CU.

"The thing about Rodney that makes him great is his ability to deal with and interact with people, and his ability to communicate," Boyle said. "That's really what coaching is, dealing with people. Rodney has a way of dealing with people that puts them at ease and makes them feel really comfortable around him. That skill has served him well since he's been with us."

Boyle said he's also seen Rodney's confidence and comfort level grow as an on-court coach.

"He's terrific," Boyle said. "He's a great asset to our program, we love having him, he's great to work with every day."

This may not have been the line of work Rodney set out for, but he's proving to be well-suited for it, and he believes he's found his true passion. In fact, he's even got typical assistant coach aspirations of one day running his own program as a head coach.

Rodney isn't too focused on that part of his future, though. He's soaking up the opportunity to learn as much as he can in Boulder.

"I'll be here for a while," he said. "There's so much more for me to learn here. I like it here. This is an easy place to fall in love with."

Contact Writer Brian Howell at or on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.