Arizona Basketball

Stoudamire’s hire at Pacific gives Arizona Wildcats 30 known head coaching positions


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On the day Damon Stoudamire was hired to his first head coaching job, filling the vacancy at Pacific, he penned a touching article about his life that was published by The Players Tribune.

The article, titled “Letter to My Younger Self”, is written by Stoudamire as a letter to a himself when he was an ambitious basketball player at 12 in the Portland, Ore., area. Stoudamire shed light on his experience with his grandparents, specifically his late grandmother, who he calls his best friend.

He opens up about important moments in his development as a basketball player and person. He devoted a significant part of his letter mentioning how Lute Olson impacted his life:

There’s a guy named Lute Olson who is going to come to your house when you’re in high school. He coaches the University of Arizona. In 2016, we have a term that perfectly describes Lute.

It’s called swag.

In terms you’ll understand, this dude is super bad, O.K.? He’s going to walk into your living room when you’re in high school with that slick white hair and that immaculate suit, and he’s going to tell you the truth.

He’s not going to be a used-car salesman. He’s not going to tell you that you’re a superstar.

He’s going to say, “You know what, Damon? I already got a point guard. And he’s terrific. But I think you can be terrific, too. I’m going to make you into a man.”

Stoudamire becomes Olson’s 10th former player at Arizona to become an active head coach. All but Craig McMillan, the head coach at Santa Rosa (Calif.) Junior College, and Matt Brase, coach of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the D-League, were point guards, an extension of Olson on the court.

They range from the high school level with Mike Bibby at Phoenix Shadow Mountain and former walk-on Jason Stewart at Encinitas (Calif.) San Dieguito to the NBA with Steve Kerr at Golden State. Kelvin Eafon, who was recruited to Arizona by Olson but finished his career playing football for Dick Tomey, is the head basketball coach at Pueblo.

The others in the Olson player coaching tree are Reggie Geary (in his fifth year coaching in a Japanese professional league), Jason Gardner (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis) and Josh Pastner (Memphis).

Stoudamire also becomes the 28th known former Arizona athlete who is a head coach.

Some of the more notable former Wildcats coaching their own team include Maryland women’s basketball coach Brenda Frese (whose team is 31-3 and seeded No. 2 in the NCAA tournament), Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona and Arizona Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale.

Eight former Arizona football players, including Eafon, are coaching at the high school level, including former NFL player and current ESPN analyst Antonio Pierce at powerhouse Long Beach Poly.

Mike Candrea’s softball coaching tree includes six former players, including two at the high school level in Tucson with Amy Baray-Rocha at Salpointe Catholic and Danielle Rodriguez at Tucson High.

[/ezcol_1half_end] 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, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, 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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