New names are added to the list of former Arizona Wildcats as head coaches, including Pusch Ridge baseball coach David Landrith, West Texas A&M softball coach Candace Abrams. and the latest — Joseph Blair of the NBA G-League’s Rio Grande (Texas) team.
Blair replaces former Arizona player Matt Brase — Catalina Foothills grad who is Lute Olson’s grandson — after Brase was elevated to assistant coach with the Rockets. Brase coached Rio Grande for two seasons and served as the head coach of the Haitian National Team this summer.
This will be Blair’s first head coaching responsibility. He was an assistant to Brase with Rio Grande the last two seasons. Blair, one of the most fundamentally sound centers to play for Arizona, was also a graduate assistant at Arizona under Sean Miller in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.
Blair has long had a Tucson presence leading the Blair Charity Group after his 13-year professional career overseas ended in 2009.
Abrams, who became head coach at West Texas A&M last season and coached the Lady Buffs to a 40-13 record, is a Tucson native who started as an assistant at West Texas A&M in 2014 following a two-year stint as the head coach at Colorado Mesa. She was a member of Mike Candrea’s staff at Arizona for a couple of years before that.
Abrams, who lettered four years at Flowing Wells, graduating from there in 2000, also was an assistant at Catalina Foothills in 2007 and 2008, which followed three years as an assistant at Pima Community College.
She was a member of Arizona’s 2001 NCAA Division I National Championship team. A four-year letterwinner, the versatile Abrams played catcher and outfield during her career with the Wildcats. An Academic All-American Honorable Mention, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and State of Arizona Teaching Certification in 2004.
“You have hired a young lady that has a passion for the game” said Candrea in a West Texas A&M press release. “Candance has a tremendous work ethic and will bring great energy and knowledge to your athletes and coaching staff. I am proud that she is a former Wildcat.”
Former Cholla High School and Pima standout outfielder Mari Ruiz is part of Abrams’ team as a senior.
Landrith, a 1983 All-Pac-10 selection as a senior catcher, is well-known in Tucson baseball coaching circles having served as head coach at Flowing Wells for 20 years before serving as an assistant coach at Canyon del Oro. Landrith also served as an assistant at Pusch Ridge last year under longtime coach Mark Frithsen.
Landrith was a member of the Arizona 1980 National Championship team and played a couple of years in minors after the Royals drafted him in 1983.
The following is a list of the 38 former Arizona athletes who presently are head coaches: