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New Arizona assistant coach Justin Gainey is a ‘grand slam hire’

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One of Gainey’s former colleagues had some great things to say about him

Maryland V North Carolina State

The Arizona Wildcats reportedly filled their final assistant coaching vacancy Thursday by hiring Santa Clara assistant Justin Gainey to the same position.

Prior to his one-year stint with the Broncos, Gainey spent three seasons on staff at Marquette, five seasons at Appalachian State, a year at Elon, and three years at N.C. State.

Gainey has previous ties with Arizona’s coaching staff. When he was a player at N.C. State (1996-2000), current Arizona head coach Sean Miller and assistant Mark Phelps were assistants for the Wolfpack under Herb Sendek.

Gainey and Phelps later crossed paths at Marquette in 2014-15. Gainey was the director of basketball operations and Phelps was an assistant coach.

Gainey evidently left a favorable impression on Miller and Phelps, and he certainly did on Marquette associate coach Stan Johnson, who called UA’s hiring of Gainey a “grand slam hire.”

Here are eight characteristics Johnson listed about Gainey (via Twitter):

  1. First class person
  2. Tremendous worker
  3. Elite evaluator/recruiter
  4. Great teacher
  5. Strong communicator
  6. Awesome teammate
  7. Builder of men
  8. Pure heart

Gainey and Johnson worked together for three years at Marquette. Relatedly, Johnson and Phelps also worked with each other for two years at Drake, when Phelps was the head coach there. So Arizona’s staff is plenty familiar with its newest hire.

Not much has been written about Gainey’s role at his previous stops other than he “helped develop a number of players, including point guards, into All-Southern Conference selections under head coach Jason Capel” during his five-year stint at Appalachian State.


Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire