Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has remained close to his former college throughout his rise through the ranks in the NBA. The Oakland native kickstarted his professional journey by thriving under coach Randy Rahe at Weber State. Fresh off another All-Star Game selection, Lillard looked back at the relationships he built in Ogden, Utah fondly.
During a recent visit, Lillard explained to Brett Hein of the Standard-Examiner that he still feels a connection to the Wildcats and considers Rahe family.
“The relationship is strong still to this day,” Lillard said. “Having him at that Jazz game was like I would feel if one of my family members was there.”
“I’ve got a lot of family and coach Rahe is right along with the rest of my family. I’ve got my mom, my dad, my uncles, my aunties, my cousins, grandparents, coach Rahe. And coach (Eric) Duft,” Lillard said. “They all go right in that group. They’re family to me. We speak regularly.”
Rahe, who still coaches at Weber State, reciprocated Lillard’s kind words.
“It’s awesome. Damian’s family. We’re very close, he’s a part of our family, always will be,” Rahe said Thursday about the star’s visit. “He’s a loyal guy, man ... He’s always around to help support us as much as he can, no matter what he does. And that will never change with him.”
Prior to being selected at pick No. 6 by the Blazers in the 2012 NBA Draft, Lillard received the Big Sky Player of the Year award on two occasions. After an injury-shortened junior year, Lillard bolstered his NBA stock by recording a scoring average of 24.5 points per game in his final year at Weber State.