Arizona basketball has found another point guard … well, a four-time All-American point guard that once roamed the hallways of McKale 20 years ago.Jason Gardner has been named Arizona’s Director of Player Relations for new coach Tommy Lloyd. The hiring had been in the works for more than a month. The announcement became official Thursday afternoon.
“We are excited to have Jason Gardner, an Arizona legend, back in Tucson and part of our program,” Loyd said in a news release. “He unquestionably left his mark on this program as a four-time All-American and national player of the year. I know he is excited to be back in Tucson and give back to his alma mater as a member of our staff.”
Gardner was a 4-time All-American, the 2003 National Player of the Year and one of six former Arizona men’s basketball players to have his number recognized inside the McKale Center. He started in 135 of the 136 games he played in. His starts ranks No. 1 all-time in school history.
Following his remarkable career at Arizona, Gardner played professionally overseas for eight seasons. He was named MVP of the German Basketball Bundesliga in 2009 and was a two-time all-star in the Bundesliga.
Gardner thanked UA AD Dave Heeke and Lloyd for giving him the opportunity to return.
“This school and this program have a special place in my heart because it gave me so much during my time here as a student-athlete and beyond,” Gardner said. “There is nothing like game day in the McKale Center with the best fans in college basketball and I can’t wait to be back!”
The Indianapolis native got his start in coaching while serving as an assistant coach at Loyola Chicago for two seasons under then-head coach Porter Moser. He then joined the University of Memphis staff as an assistant coach during the 2013-14 season for then-head coach and former Arizona teammate Josh Pastner.
After his one season in Memphis, he was named the head coach at IUPUI served in that role for five seasons (2014-19), guiding them to just their third-ever postseason appearance in 2018-19 when the Jaguars played in the CIT. He ranks third in IUPUI history for wins (64) and was a finalist for the 2019 Ben Jobe National Coach of the Year Award, which is presented annually to the top Division I minority coach.
Most recently, Gardner served as the head boys basketball coach at his alma mater, North Central High School in Indianapolis, for the 2020-21 season. As a student at North Central, he won a state title, was named the 1999 IndyStar Mr. Basketball and earned McDonald’s and Parade All-American honors.
Gardner’s name is still all over the statistical records at Arizona, currently ranking third in career scoring (1,984), second in three-point field goals made (318), second in free throws made (516), third in free throw attempts (663), fourth in assists (622), third in steals (225), fourth in games played (136), first in games started (135), first in minutes played (4,825) and fifth in career wins (107).
Arizona’s Sports Communications office provided the material for this story.