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Arizona announces hiring of assistant coach Justin Gainey

Sean Miller said Gainey’s greatest strength is his ability to “connect with today’s players on the recruiting trail and inside our own program.”

Colorado v Arizona Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats officially announced the hiring of new assistant coach Justin Gainey on Wednesday via Twitter.

“We are excited to welcome Justin Gainey as our new assistant coach,” head coach Sean Miller said.

Gainey’s hiring was reported about a week and a half ago. He comes to the UA after one year as an assistant at Santa Clara. Prior to that, Gainey spent three seasons on staff at Marquette, five seasons at Appalachian State, a year at Elon, and three years at N.C. State, where he also played from 1996-2000.

“Justin was a self-made player that worked himself into being an ACC point guard at N.C. State,” Miller said. “I was an assistant coach during Justin’s four years as a student-athlete. Even then, he impressed me with his ability to compete, his incredible work ethic, and his unselfish nature.

“Justin possesses these same qualities now as a college basketball coach. He has worked with some excellent coaches prior to his arrival in Tucson, which includes his latest experience under Herb Sendek at Santa Clara in the West Coast Conference.”

Miller said Gainey’s greatest strength is his ability to “connect with today’s players on the recruiting trail and inside our own program” which is something Miller admitted he had difficulty doing during the 2017-18 season.

“Simply put, he has ‘walked in their shoes’ at the highest level of college basketball,” Miller said.

“However, his overall approach to teaching the game and developing players on and off the court is what I am most excited about. Justin is a loyal, family centered, good natured, high character person that I have known for over 20 years.”

Gainey rounds out Miller’s coaching staff, which includes Danny Peters, who was hired from Ball State in April, and Mark Phelps, who has been on staff since 2015 and was also an assistant at N.C. State during Gainey’s playing career.

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

So Arizona’s coaching staff underwent a lot of change this offseason, but there is still plenty of familiarity within it.

“Justin is the right person to help us continue to build our basketball program into a national champion,” Miller said. “We all are very excited to work alongside him every day.”

Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire