Updates with quotes from former UA basketball player and now graduate assistant Joseph Blair
The addition of former Arizona center Joseph Blair to Sean Miller’s staff as an undergraduate assistant provides the Wildcats insight from two members of the 1993-94 Final Four team, which coincidentally will be honored during the Red-Blue Scrimmage Oct. 12 at McKale Center.
Blair, a pillar of the Tucson community through his work as executive director of the Blair Charity Group, joins former teammate Damon Stoudamire as part of the UA’s staff. Stoudamire, hired by Miller as a full-time assistant in May, was the starting point guard for the 1993-94 team.
Miller announced Blair’s addition to the staff as part of three personnel moves on Tuesday. The UA has added Chris Johnson, older brother of UA junior guard Nick Johnson, to the Wildcats’ 2013-14 roster and David Miller to UA staff as a graduate manager.
Blair will work as an undergraduate assistant while he pursues his degree from the university. The Houston native averaged 10.4 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Wildcats from 1993-96, helping lead Arizona to a pair of Pac-10 titles and the 1994 Final Four.
Sean Rooks and Blair are the most fundamentally sound interior players Arizona produced under Lute Olson. Blair will be essential to the development of sophomore post players Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to share the knowledge and wisdom that I’ve accumulated over not only my career at the U of A, but also my 13 year professional career,” Blair told me. “I see the great potential in the players and feel honored to be able to lend a hand in fostering our great players into even greater players.”
He was drafted 35th overall by the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1996 NBA Draft and enjoyed a 13-year professional career that included Euroleague regular-season MVP honors in 2003. His mission with the Blair Charity Group is to create and support programs that address the priorities of the Southern Arizona community.
Blair intends to continue operating the Blair Charity Group, although especially during the basketball season he will understandably be challenged for time.
“I’m gonna make it all work,” Blair messaged me. “Just won’t sleep!”
“Welcoming Joseph Blair to our staff as an undergraduate assistant coach is a win-win for our program,” Miller said in a statement released by Arizona. “Joseph is a great ambassador for Arizona basketball, and helping him complete his undergraduate work goes hand-in-hand with our Players Program philosophy. At the same time, our current players will benefit from his work ethic, knowledge of the game and passion for Arizona basketball.”
Chris Johnson began his collegiate career at Grand Canyon University, where he spent two seasons. He averaged 7.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game during the 2011-12 campaign under former UA interim head coach Russ Pennell. The Gilbert, Ariz., native attended Cal State San Bernardino in 2012-13, but did not play basketball at the institution.
“Having recruited Nick and coached him for two years, I know that he and Chris come from a good family,” Miller said through Arizona. “I’m confident that Chris will work hard every day, be a good teammate and be an asset to the culture of our program.”
David Miller has joined the staff as a graduate manager after serving as an undergraduate manager for the last three seasons. His role includes aiding the coaching staff in individual and team workouts, in addition to various operational and video duties.
The Manhattan Beach, Calif., native is the son of Dave Miller, whose 20-year coaching career saw him work both on the college level and in the NBA. The elder Miller currently serves as an analyst during Los Angeles Lakers games broadcast on Time Warner SportsNet.
“We’re excited to add David Miller to our staff as a graduate manager,” Miller said through Arizona. “He comes from a good basketball family, with his father a longtime coach and basketball analyst. David did a great job for us as an undergraduate manager the last three years and we’re looking forward to him building on that.”
WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.