Arizona Basketball

If Terry lands UAB job will add to coaching ranks of ’96-97 champs

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Five years ago, I came across former Arizona All-American point guard Jason Terry at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, and the subject of our conversation turned to head coaching.

“I watch their program,” he said of his alma mater (he earned his degree in general studies in 2014). “I’m great with recruiting. I have an edge in that department. You know, just coming back, making that part of my legacy. I will always be a Wildcat at heart. You know, I’m a Lute (Olson) disciple.”

For Terry to make it that far in the coaching ranks, he must start somewhere. That start might be as head coach of Alabama-Birmingham of Conference USA. Birmingham would be a fitting place inasmuch as Arizona achieved its greatest victory in school history in that city, toppling No. 1 Kansas with Raef LaFrentz, Paul Pierce, Jacque Vaughan, Scot Pollard and Co. in the Sweet 16 there en route to the 1997 NCAA title.

According to published reports, Terry interviewed for the Blazers’ coaching vacancy Thursday. ‘

Terry told me in 2011 that “God-willing, I’ll play about (two) more years and then I will ride off into the sunset.” Five years later, at age 38, he still is in the NBA with the Houston Rockets, about to complete his 17th season, the longest tenured player from Arizona to play at that level. He has coached at the AAU level and has mentored young teammates throughout his NBA career.

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RELATED: Former Arizona athletes who are head coaches currently number 30 after the recent hire of Damon Stoudamire at Pacific.

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“You know, coaching kids and being out in the community that’s something I love to do and that’s something I’ll probably do in the future,” Terry told me.

“When” is a better word to use than “if” with Terry and his coaching ambitions. When that happens, he will join noted former teammates on that national title team as head coaches.

The list includes Memphis coach Josh Pastner, Phoenix Shadow Mountain High School coach Mike Bibby and Encinitas (Calif.) San Dieguito High School coach Jason Stewart. Miles Simon also coaches AAU basketball and was an assistant for the U.S. National Under 16 team last year. A.J. Bramlett has also coached AAU teams out of his hometown of Albuquerque.

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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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