Former Arizona basketball player Reggie Geary — arguably the best defensive player coached by Lute Olson — is as scrappy as they come.
He is using that determination to survive and succeed in a playing and coaching career that has taken its fair share of twists and turns despite the fact Geary is only 38.
After his UA career in 1996, Geary played for eight different pro teams over an eight-year span, including the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs, two CBA teams and four foreign teams. He has coached since 2007 as a head coach of Anaheim in the NBA’s Developmental League, an assistant at Arizona and SMU, and now with the Yokohama B-Corsairs in the Japanese Professional League.
Geary is finally reaping the rewards of his fortitude. He was selected this week the Coach of the Year of the Japanese Professional League. He has coached the B-Corsairs, headlined by former St. John’s standout Justin Burrell, to the playoffs. They have achieved this success despite being an expansion team.
“I appreciate the great honor,” Geary said in a statement released by the B-Corsairs. “I am thankful for all the players of the team. We sincerely thank the staff and the organization. I think that without their efforts and trust, what I aim for could not be reached.”
The B-Corsairs have won 12 of their last 14 games and stand at 31-21. They are assured a spot in the Japanese League Final Four, hosting the Eastern Conference final series against a team to be determined starting May 10.
Burrell, the Big East Sixth Man of the Year in 2010-11, was selected the Japanese Professional League MVP. He is averaging 18.7 points per game.
He is thankful for the experience of playing under Geary. He is also appreciative that another former UA assistant — Mike Dunlap — helped develop his potential at St. John’s in 2010-11.
“Coach Geary, he’s really believed in me from the (start),” Burrell told the Japan Times. “He told me he’s going to put the ball in my hands . . . and give me an opportunity to lead our team.
“(Dunlap) taught me … how to be physical, how to read zones, how to read defenses, read body language, learn when a player’s tired.”
Geary’s team also includes Chas McFarland of Wake Forest, Draelon Burns of DePaul and Marcus Simmons of USC.