Less than two years ago, after losing Joe Pasternack and Lorenzo Romar to the head coaching ranks, the Arizona Wildcats hired assistants Justin Gainey and Danny Peters with stability in mind.
“The two that we brought back are on the younger side, which I think gives us the most stability that we can have,” head coach Sean Miller said then. “I think it’s awesome when coaches leave your program to become head coaches and we’ve had several do that. Each of them did an excellent job while they were here, but right now, I think the stability, the continuity—younger coaches are going to build their track record at Arizona and are here for multiple years—we have that with both Danny Peters and Justin Gainey.”
Turns out “multiple years” is just two years for Gainey.
Gainey was named Marquette’s associate head coach on Friday, returning to the school where he served as the director of basketball operations from 2014-17. After that, Gainey spent a year as an assistant coach at Santa Clara before being hired away by Arizona.
“My family and I are humbled and excited to return to the Marquette basketball family and this great University,” Gainey said in a statement. ”Marquette is a special place, with amazing people who make it one of the best Universities in the country. I’m grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with one of the best college basketball coaches in the country, as well as one of my mentors, Steve Wojciechowski. I’m excited about the future of Marquette basketball and all the great things that lie ahead.”
This is not a lateral move for Gainey, who earned the promotion from assistant coach to associate head coach. His salary at UA hovered around $300,000, per school records.
“We are excited to welcome Justin and the Gainey family back to Marquette,” Wojciechowski said. ”Justin is one of the nation’s top rising coaches and his talents, ability to build meaningful relationships and myriad of experiences alongside some of the game’s best teachers will serve our program, and most importantly our players, incredibly well.”
Miller said a couple years ago that Gainey’s greatest strength is his ability to connect with players.
“He’s very selfless, hard-worker,” Miller said. “He was an overachiever as a player and a lot of times those overachievers as players make great coaches. And he learned from someone who I respect a great deal, Herb Sendek, in his last stop. So the timing for him to come to Arizona (is right). He’s hungry, he’s young.”