The Celtics announced Wednesday that it had hired the 36-year-old Stevens as the team's next coach. On Friday, they introduced Stevens as their new coach.
Stevens' departure as the Butler men's basketball coach came as something of a surprise to the Butler community. But Ainge said he's had his eye on Stevens for years, adding that he admires Stevens' poise, his intelligence and his teams' execution under pressure.
"I've always looked at him over the last few years as a guy who was a great candidate to be head coach," Ainge said, but added, "never thinking it was gonna be this soon. He's a guy I have targeted for a long time."
The six-year deal is reportedly worth $22 million.
Stevens, his wife, Tracy, and their two children joined Celtics officials at a Friday morning news conference at the Celtics Training Center.
"I am absolutely humbled to be sitting in this room and looking around with the banners that hang - as any young basketball fan was or is, just in awe of the Boston Celtics," said Stevens.
Stevens has led the Bulldogs to the NCAA title game twice, but has no NBA experience as a player or coach. He had been courted by Illinois and UCLA, among others.
As for making the transition from college to NBA coaching, Stevens told reporters, "I'm aware of everybody that's made the transition. Each situation is different too. What I would look for in any work environment are people that are all on the same page; that believe in getting the right people on the bus and believe in supporting each other. We really feel strongly about how we've been treated right from the get-go with regard to [Celtics President of Basketball Operations] Danny [Ainge]'s initial phone call...it was the kind of working environment I've been used to."
Meanwhile, Butler is acting fast to find a replacement for Stevens. The leading candidate appears to be former Butler player and assistant coach LaVall Jordan. The 34-year-old Jordan is currently assistant coach at Michigan. He may have interviewed for the job Thursday with Butler Athletic Director Barry Collier. Jordan played for Collier.
The other top candidate is Brandon Miller, a native of New Castle, Indiana, who also played for the Bulldogs. He just returned to the coaching staff to be an assistant for the second time. Miller interviewed for the job on Wednesday.
Collier made it clear he himself is not coming back to coach the Bulldogs.
"I came here to announce that Brad had taken the coaching job with the Boston Celtics and my announcement would also include that I hired myself as basketball coach...and it took me that long to fire myself," Collier joked with reporters Wednesday night. "So now we have to find a good coach."