Aaron McKie has learned basketball from some of the most respected coaches in this rich basketball city - Bill Ellerbee at Simon Gratz and John Chaney at Temple.

McKie played for new Sixers coach Doug Collins when he was with the Detroit Pistons, and he lumps Collins in there with the great coaches from his formative years.

"People like Doug Collins, they are old-time coaches," McKie said. "A lot of coaches are new-age coaches, watching tape and videos all the time. Coach Collins is like me, he wants to see somebody in person and after a few minutes, he can break down the guy's game. I like to think I'm like that. He's influenced me a lot."

Collins, who was appointed the Sixers' new head coach yesterday, announced the McKie would be part of his coaching staff. McKie was on coach Eddie Jordan's staff last year.

"Ideally for me, I want to be here," McKie said. "This is my hometown and I feel the same way Doug does - this is home. I was hoping to coach here because I enjoy teaching the game. A lot of the things that he was saying kind of tied into me. We had a lot of tough coaches who not only taught us about the game, but also taught us about life.

"We needed somebody who could capture [fans'] attention. It's like being a car salesman. You've got to get people to buy in to what you're trying to sell. Doug is that guy. When you listen to him on the television when he's doing his broadcast, you're locked in. You're not just watching the game, you're listening to what he's saying. We have a good core of young guys who really enjoy playing, but I think they need a path. They need someone who can get them a kind of direction, and Doug can do that."

Collins said he would name the rest of his staff shortly. Two leading candidates are Brian James, who was an assistant under Collins in Washington and Detroit, and Michael Curry, who played for Collins in Detroit.

"I think, in some ways, [the coaches he's played for] are all the same, they're all workers," McKie said. "They're all gym rats."

McKie is still that. He looks as though he could step on the court and put in a solid 15 or 20 minutes. He works out with the players on the court religiously before games. He is quiet, but you wonder if he's that way because he's listening and absorbing as much as he can.

McKie the player did just that when Collins was his coach. Now he'll do the same as a member of Collins' staff.