A familiar face – and coach – will be roaming the sidelines of the Lute & Bobbi Olson Court this fall. Jack Murphy, a former Lute Olson understudy, has been hired to be Sean Miller’s associate head coach.
“I am very excited to be back at the University of Arizona,” Murphy said in a news release provided by the school. “The great part about Arizona Basketball is that you never leave the family. You’re just returning home after a long vacation to get to work to help coach Miller achieve all the goals he has set for Arizona. I just can’t wait to get started.
“I think Coach Miller is one of the best coaches in the country. I am excited to learn from him and continue my professional development. I love the way his teams defend and compete. They have a toughness about them that I have always admired, and I’m eager to grind in the trenches with the entire staff.”
Miller had been looking for a top assistant coach for a few months after former assistant Mark Phelps was let go in the middle of the season because of reported NCAA rules misconduct.
UA made the announcement Sunday night. Murphy was most recently the head coach of Northern Arizona University, where he spent seven years after spending a few years as one of former UA players Josh Pastner’s assistants at Memphis.
Murphy also has NBA
experience as an advance scout for three seasons with the Denver Nuggets. He
spent eight years on Olson’s staff as a team manager, recruiting coordinator,
administrative assistant, video coordinator and director of operations.
“It’s very exciting to welcome back Jack Murphy and his family to the University of Arizona,” Miller said. “Jack combines invaluable head coaching experience, recruiting at the national level of college basketball, and an NBA pedigree. More importantly, Jack brings a love for Arizona Basketball and our community like no one that I have met in coaching. He is a tremendous person, a caring family man, and an outstanding coach. All of us in our program look forward to working with him as we prepare for an exciting year ahead.”
What Murphy truly adds – in addition to coaching and local ties – are his connections to the dynamic past that UA has. Murphy worked with future NBA players Luke Walton, Richard Jefferson, Andre Iguodala, Mike Bibby, Miles Simon, Michael Dickerson, Jason Terry, Gilbert Arenas, Michael Wright, Channing Frye and Hassan Adams
back at Arizona is fantastic,” said Jefferson, a 17-year NBA veteran, as
part of the release. “His loyalty, high character and basketball knowledge
are going to be a tremendous asset to Sean and OUR program! I couldn’t be more
excited today, and for the future of Arizona basketball.”
Added Walton, the current head coach of the Sacramento Kings: “Murph was there when I was a freshman at Arizona when we lost the 2001 National Title, and there in 2003 when we lost in the Elite Eight. He helped prepare me for the 2003 NBA Draft, and has been there for me ever since. When I think of Wildcat basketball, and what that means, I think of Jack Murphy. He will do a great job for Sean, and my family and I will be rooting for our Cats!”
Murphy was in the final year of his contract at NAU. While there he was 78-149.
“There isn’t another school in the country my wife and I would leave NAU for,” Murphy said. “When Coach Miller called, it brought back so many memories and emotions. It’s something I could not pass up for my family. Being an Arizona Wildcat, it’s in the fabric of who you are always.”
Murphy, who earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Arizona, remains close with Olson and has continued to use all the lessons the Hall of Famer taught him while leading the Arizona program.
“There is no one I count on more than coach Olson,” Murphy said. “My job is to carry on his legacy to the best of my ability. Coach O always had two feet in, and everyone was a part of the Arizona Basketball family. It’s a special, special feeling that I get to have again.”