Chris Hollender joined the UMKC men's basketball staff as an assistant coach in July 2015. Known for a tireless work ethic, recruiting savvy and passion for the game, Hollender joined UMKC after three seasons as an assistant coach at Mississippi State in the SEC. At every stage of his coaching career, team win-loss records have improved following Hollender's arrival.
UMKC recorded the second-most victories in a season (18) in program history during the 2016-17 campaign. Additionally, the Roos made the first postseason appearance in the program's 30-year Division I history, which included a victory over Green Bay to advance to the quarterfinals of the College Basketball Invitational before falling to eventual CBI champion Wyoming. In 2016-17, UMKC set program records for points (2,691), field goals (911), rebounds (1,213), defensive rebounds (860), 3-pointers (315) and free throws (554). The Roos finished second in team history in assists (451) and third in steals (236). The Roos also posted the longest winning streak for the program in 12 years from Jan. 31 – Feb. 18, 2017.
Hollender played a huge role in the development of forward Kyle Steward, who scored in double figures 20 times as a senior and grabbed 10-plus rebounds four times, including two double-doubles. Steward averaged 13.5 points and 6.6 rebounds in WAC play as a senior, improving his scoring total by 5.3 points and rebounding average by 1.5 boards per game in conference play from the previous year. Steward was named WAC Player of the Week following a 20-point, 14-rebound effort at UT Rio Grande Valley and finished eighth in program history with a 39.8 percent (80-for-201) career 3-point field goal percentage.
During Hollender’s first season with the Roos, UMKC earned a 72-67 victory over Mississippi State at Municipal Auditorium in downtown Kansas City.
At Mississippi State, Hollender brought the same intensity he played with as a college and professional standout to the development of the big men, including All-SEC forward Gavin Ware. Under Hollender's guidance, Ware was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team in 2012-13 after averaging 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. His totals increased to averaging more than 10 points and seven rebounds per game as a sophomore and junior. In 2013-14, he led the Bulldogs in field goal percentage (.581). Ware went on to become one of only seven players in MSU history to score 1,000-plus points and pull down 800-plus rebounds.
While in Starkville, Hollender played an integral part in the recruitment of Quinndary Weatherspoon, who became a second-team All-SEC selection and led the Bulldogs in scoring with 16.5 points per game to go along with 5.1 rebounds per contest as a sophomore. He was previously named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.
Hollender coached a three-year stint in the same capacity at Evansville, his alma mater, prior to his tenure in Starkville. With the Purple Aces, Hollender recruited D.J. Balentine, who became Evansville's all-time leading scorer and now plays professionally in Lithuania. He also mentored Colt Ryan, who previously held the program's all-time scoring mark until it was broken by Balentine. Ryan went on to a professional career in Belgium. Hollender also helped recruit Egidijus Mockevicius, who was a two-time first-team All-MVC selection, league Defensive Player of the Year and now plays for the Long Island Nets of the NBA Development League. The final class Hollender recruited for Evansville went on to win 84 games.
Hollender returned to Evansville in 2009 after spending seven years on Jim Crews’ staff at Army from 2002-09. While at West Point, he mentored numerous All-Patriot League selections for the Black Knights. Army registered one of the largest turnarounds in the NCAA during his tenure, improving by 10 wins during the 2006-07 season.
As a player, Hollender had a standout career with the Purple Aces. After spending his freshman season at Lake Land College in his hometown of Mattoon, Illinois, he transferred to Evansville, where he became an All-Missouri Valley Conference player, earning second-team honors in 1998.
As a senior, he led the Missouri Valley Conference in field goal percentage (.548) and was captain of the MVC’s most improved team after his scoring average rose from 11.8 points per game as a junior to 16.5 as a senior.
His best outing came when he poured in 34 points against Big 10 powerhouse Indiana. During his final season with the Purple Aces, Hollender recorded seven double-doubles. In 84 career games (70 starts), Hollender averaged 12.3 points and 5.9 rebounds. He ranks in the top 50 all-time on the school’s scoring chart despite playing only three seasons. He was named to the Preseason NIT (1997) and San Juan (1996) All-Tournament Teams. Hollender was a college teammate of UMKC head coach Kareem Richardson at Evansville.
After graduating with a degree in Marketing, Hollender spent one season with the Bremerhaven Ice Dogs in Germany, where he helped the team win its second division title.
He then joined the St. Louis Swarm of the Continental Basketball Association under former NBA head coach Bernie Bickerstaff and NBA player and Mizzou assistant Lee Winfield, who worked under Bickerstaff as the team's assistant coach. The Swarm won the CBA Championship in each of Hollender’s two seasons with the club (1999-2001). He was also named Community Man of the Year in 2000, volunteering his time to multiple community service initiatives in the St. Louis metropolitan area. With the Swarm, he was a teammate of former Mizzou Tigers Derek Grimm and Doug Smith.
Hollender then signed with the Rockford Lightning, also in the CBA, where he played 14 games during the 2001-02 campaign before starting his coaching career.
Hollender and his wife, Kathryn, have a son, Jackson, and twin daughters, Madeline and Elyse.