Arizona hires Gonzaga’s Tommy Lloyd to replace Sean Miller

Apr 14, 2021, 3:17 PM | Updated: 5:36 pm
Gonzaga assistant coach Tommy Lloyd looks on during the college basketball game between the Gonzaga...
Gonzaga assistant coach Tommy Lloyd looks on during the college basketball game between the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the Pepperdine Waves on January 30, 2021 at the Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The post-Sean Miller era for the Arizona Wildcats men’s basketball program is underway, and it will be led by Gonzaga associate head coach Tommy Lloyd, the university announced Wednesday afternoon.

Lloyd will receive a five-year contract, pending Board of Regents approval, the school added.

“We are thrilled that Tommy and his family are joining the Wildcat Family and reestablishing our men’s basketball program among the elite in the nation,” vice president and director of athletics Dave Heeke said in a press release. “After speaking with a tremendous pool of candidates, and with so many in and out of the college basketball world, it became clear that Tommy has the passion, the experience, the knowledge, the coaching and recruiting acumen and the drive to lead us to championships.

“He has been a big part of the incredible rise and success of Gonzaga Basketball and is well-respected for his partnership with that program’s head coach, Mark Few. We are looking forward to what’s next, and we welcome Tommy, Chanelle and their children, Liam, Sophia Marie and Maria Alexis to Tucson.”

Lloyd is known for his recruiting efforts for Gonzaga head coach Mark Few, particularly internationally. Lloyd has brought over talented players who would become terrific college players and eventual NBA contributors, including Rui Hachimura, Kelly Olynyk, Domantas Sabonis and Ronny Turiaf.

Lloyd has been on Few’s staff since 2000. With Lloyd acting as Few’s right-hand man, Gonzaga has made the Sweet 16 in every single season since 2014-15, highlighted by two national championship games since 2017.

The Bulldogs put together a perfect season before falling to the Baylor Bears in the 2021 title game.

“I am extremely grateful to president [Robert] Robbins and Dave Heeke for the incredible opportunity to lead one of the country’s most storied men’s basketball programs,” Lloyd said. “While there are certainly potential obstacles ahead for our program, I embrace the challenge as we will build on the foundation in place to compete for Pac-12 and national championships.

“I know how much Arizona Basketball means to the institution, its fans, its community and the state, and I cannot wait to get started. That works begin now. My family and I are excited to settle in Tucson and begin a new chapter.”

Arizona, which fired Miller on April 7, also interviewed Pacific head coach Damon Stoudamire and Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Miles Simon, according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman. Both played for the Wildcats under Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson.

The Wildcats reportedly showed interest in Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman, who soon after signed an extension to remain with the Razorbacks, as well as Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner. Pastner also played (1996-2000) and coached (2002-08) as an assistant at Arizona.

“I want to thank Dave Heeke for his leadership in this process and the many basketball experts, coaches and former players who provided us with invaluable advice,” Robbins said. “Ultimately, Tommy rose to the top, and I am confident in the future of our men’s basketball program with him at the helm.

“With our women’s basketball program’s incredible run to the NCAA championship game just a week ago, and now with Tommy Lloyd taking the reins of our men’s program, I can proudly say Arizona Basketball is in good hands.”

The transition for the Wildcats’ program will include bringing them out of a controversial last few years for Miller that included the school in March releasing a Notice of Allegations for the men’s basketball program’s NCAA recruiting violations, with four Level 1 violations.

Arizona was under a self-imposed ban of postseason play for the 2020-21 season after finishing with a record of 17-9 and could still be penalized further with a review process still ongoing.

One of Miller’s assistants, Emanuel “Book” Richardson, was among 10 people arrested in an FBI investigation into college basketball. He served three months in prison.

Miller went 302-109 (.735) over 12 seasons at Arizona after arriving in Tucson from Xavier in 2009.

He won the Pac-12 Coach of the Year award three times (2011, 2014, 2017) and took the Wildcats to four Pac-12 regular season titles and two Pac-12 Tournament championships.

In the NCAA Tournament, Miller led Arizona to the Elite Eight elite three times and twice took his team to the Sweet 16.

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