Arizona fired head basketball coach Sean Miller on Wednesday, ending a 12-year career with the program.
The Wildcats were 302-109 down the stretch, and that included three Elite Eight appearances. Arizona did not participate in the 2020-21 NCAA Tournament due to a self-imposed ban, and the next coach could face more consequences from the NCAA in the future.
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It remains a prominent job within the Pac-12. The Wildcats are still looking for that first Final Four appearance since 2001. Here’s a list of coaches who could entertain that high-profile job.
Arizona Head Coach Candidates
Damon Stoudamire, Pacific Coach
Stoudamire would be the most recognizable name for Wildcats fans. He was a point guard on the Arizona Final Four team, enjoyed a successful NBA career and spent the past five seasons as Pacific’s coach. He rebuilt with the Tigers, who are 32-19 in the past two seasons. It’s a big step forward, but Stoudamire could be successful in the long run.
Josh Pastner, Georgia Tech Coach
Pastner would be another candidate within the family. He played on the 1997 national championship team and was an assistant in Arizona from 2002 to 2008. He has compiled a 249-148 record between stints at Memphis and Georgia Tech. Pastner’s teams have five tournament appearances and have not reached Sweet 16, so that would be a concern. Georgia Tech also had a postseason ban last season.
Miles Simon, LA Lakers assistant
Think of Juwan Howard in Michigan. Simon, also a member of the 1997 national championship team, spent four seasons as an assistant in Arizona from 2005 to 2008. He has been an assistant coach with the Lakers since 2017, and that connection to LeBron James alone is enough to register with the draftees. . Simon knows the show and knows what it’s like to be a star on a national championship team. As a result, he is one of the leading candidates.
Joe Pasternack, UC-Santa Barbara coach
This depends on whether Arizona will try to distance itself from the Miller era. Pasternack served as an assistant in Arizona from 2011 to 2017, taking advantage of a season with UC-Santa Barbara. The Gauchos are 88-34 in the past four seasons, coming off an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. That success could easily follow Pasternack back to Tucson.
Tommy Lloyd, Gonzaga’s assistant coach
It’s becoming clear that Mark Few probably won’t be leaving Gonzaga any time soon. What about one of your main assistants? Lloyd has been with the Bulldogs since 2001, and the 46-year-old is destined to take the next step soon. Gonzaga has become the West Coast’s premier program, and Lloyd could bring those lessons to the Pac-12.
John Beilein, Big Ten Network analyst
Beilein brings immediate credibility to a program and her name appears in all major coaching searches. The 68-year-old Beilein helped revive Michigan’s program, and if the desire to remain a coach is still there after his brief stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, then he might consider a move west. This worked for UCLA and Mick Cronin. Beilein is the best coach on the board, but he might be content to stay in the studio at this point in his career.
Brian Dutcher, San Diego State Coach
If the Wildcats can’t get Beilein, then they could try a former Michigan assistant. Dutcher spent most of his coaching career behind Steve Fisher at Michigan and San Diego State, turning the first head coaching job into a hit with a 96-31 record at San Diego State in the past four seasons. Dutcher, 61, could bring that to Arizona. He doesn’t have the prestige of some of the other candidates, but that shouldn’t matter.
Bryce Drew, Grand Canyon Coach
Drew’s name is all the rage given what Baylor accomplished this season, and Bryce led the Grand Canyon to an NCAA Tournament appearance. The Antelopes did that with a stifling defense that allowed 62.1 points per game. Drew was 40-59 in three seasons at Vanderbilt, but there are more resources to work with in Arizona. It’s another hire that could get the fanbase excited.
Kyle Smith, Washington State Coach
Smith is another name that wouldn’t generate too much excitement, but it could be the right hire. He led Washington state to a record nearly .500 over the past two seasons, and the show is on the up. Smith had five 20-win seasons in nine years at Columbia and San Francisco before that, and that makeover from scratch could be exactly what Arizona needs.