Let’s Speculate! Potential Arizona head basketball coach candidates
Welcome to Let’s Speculate! on Coaches Database, where we go through programs that are or may soon be looking for a new head coach and speculate who they may hire next.
Today’s program is Arizona, led by head coach Sean Miller for the last twelve seasons (fired on April 7).
- Damon Stoudamire – Pacific head coach
- A rising star in the coaching game, Stoudamire improved the Tigers‘ program from 11 wins in his first year to a 23-10 and 3rd place WCC finish in 2019-20. The former Arizona star was Pac-10 POY and an All-American for Lute Olson in the 1990s before embarking on a long pro career. He would be a great hire for his alma mater, bringing energy, name recognition and plenty of college coaching experience to the table.
- Josh Pastner – Georgia Tech head coach
- The most accomplished college head coach on this list, Pastner quickly moved from hot seat to the NCAA Tournament at Georgia Tech this past year. He’s been dancing five times across his tenures at Tech and Memphis and has won over 60% of his games as a head coach. Pastner was a walk-on at Arizona and was part of the 1997 National Championship team before starting his coaching career as one of Lute Olson‘s assistants. He has had run-ins with the NCAA in the past, which may hurt his candidacy given the issues that Miller/Arizona have already faced.
- Luke Walton – Sacramento Kings head coach
- Another former Arizona player who has made coaching his career, Walton has ten years of NBA playing experience and has now been coaching in the League since 2014. His successful stint as interim head coach of the Warriors turned into permanent gigs with the Lakers and now Kings, and while he hasn’t won a ton of games with either team he certainly fits the profile: part of the Arizona family, name recognition, professional experience and a long coaching resume.
- Miles Simon – Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach
- Simon has been with the Lakers since 2017, coaching under Luke Walton and now Frank Vogel, and he is now the proud owner of a NBA Championship ring. Simon was the NCAA Tournament MOP in 1997 when the Wildcats were National Champs and was an assistant under Olson for several seasons after his playing career was over. He doesn’t have any head coaching experience, but the former Wildcat can definitely coach and with the right staff could be a home run hire.
- Jason Terry – Arizona assistant coach
- Continuing the theme of a keeping it in the “family,” as well as the current trend of major programs hiring high-profile alums regardless of previous college coaching experience, Terry is definitely someone who should be in the mix. Still early in his coaching career after spending almost 20 years (!!) playing in the NBA, Terry has only been on the Arizona staff since for one season. If he isn’t the choice, the next head coach will surely look to retain Terry as an assistant.
- Joe Pasternack – UC Santa Barbara head coach
- Expanding the definition of the “family” here, as Pasternack didn’t play at Arizona but he did spend six years on Miller‘s staff, including four seasons as associate head coach. He won a Big West title and took UCSB to the NCAA Tournament this year and certainly has more head coaching experience than several other guys on this list. He also has some impressive mentors on his resume from earlier in his career, having worked under Bob Knight at Indiana and Ben Braun at California. One knock is that his name came up around some of the same NCAA issues that involved Miller, though that didn’t seem to be a problem at Arizona while the Wildcats were still winning.
- Tommy Lloyd – Gonzaga assistant coach
- The number one “non-Arizona” name that has been circulating so far is Tommy Lloyd, a member of Mark Few‘s staff at Gonzaga for 20 years now. As his career has grown, he has been a key member of the Bulldogs’ program and has been to 19-straight NCAA Tournaments with two NCAA National Runner-up finishes (including this season). It won’t be long before Lloyd is a head coach and while he may be the heir-apparent for Few at Gonzaga, it will be at least 5-10 more years before that job is available.
- Eric Musselman – Arkansas head coach
- He’s only been at Arkansas for two years but has made quite the impact, bringing the Razorbacks back to the Sweet Sixteen this past year. There was word that Musselman was not interested in leaving, but that was in relation to the Indiana job which he had no real ties to (geographical or otherwise). He played at San Diego and has spent much of his career out West, including stints at Nevada, Arizona State and as an NBA head coach with the Warriors and Kings.