In a shocking turn of events, head basketball coach Sean Miller is out at Arizona. After sticking with Miller through 12 years and a damning FBI investigation made public, the program has officially decided to part ways with its longtime leader.
So, with this newly-vacated head coaching spot — who will take over for the 2021 season?
College basketball insider Jeff Goodman, who broke the Miller news earlier this afternoon, has a few ideas of who could be the next big hire.
Three names in the Arizona family that should be in mix are:
Pacific coach Damon Stoudamire, Lakers assistant/former Arizona assistant Miles Simon and Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner.
One name outside the family that has gotten some pub lately: Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) April 7, 2021
The first of three coaching options in the Wildcats family is five-year Pacific head coach Damon Stoudamire. In 2019-20, the 47-year-old coach led the Tigers to a 23-10 record — the best of his coaching career. As a player for Arizona, Stoudamire put up some pretty incredible numbers. In his fourth and final year with the program, the star guard averaged 22.8 points and 7.3 points per game — earning him PAC 10 Player of the Year and consensus All-American honors in 1994-95.
Another former Arizona star turned coach is current Los Angeles Lakers assistant Miles Simon. Through four years as a player for the Wildcats from 1994-98, Simon averaged 14.6 points per game and was named MOP of the team’s 1997 national championship run. After an NBA/overseas playing career from 1999-2004, the former star guard joined Miller’s assistant staff (2005-08). After taking a long hiatus from coaching, Simon took a job with the Lakers in 2017 — helping the team to an NBA title in 2020.
While Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner doesn’t have quite the same success as a player as Stoudamire and Simon, he certainly makes up for it with coaching experience. Playing four seasons for the Wildcats from 1996-2000, Pastner averaged just 1.0 points per game. Earning his first head coaching role in 2009, the former Arizona guard took over the Memphis Tigers program — leading the team to two conference tournament championships and four NCAA Tournament appearances. Moving on to the Yellow Jackets in 2016, Pastner has slowly brought the program into ACC relevance — winning the program’s first conference championship since 1993 this past season.
Finally, the last name on Goodman’s list has no prior connection to the Arizona program. Multiple college basketball insiders have linked longtime Gonzaga assistant coach Tommy Lloyd to the newly-opened Wildcats job. Serving as an assistant/associate head coach under Mark Few since 2000, Lloyd has a wealth of coaching experience with a wildly successful program. Some speculate that the decision to fire Miller after the NCAA Tournament’s conclusion could be connected to the programs interest in Lloyd.