The Arizona Wildcats made the hiring of Jason Terry as their next assistant coach official on Wednesday, a move that head coach Sean Miller envisions helping the program when it comes to “recruiting, coaching and helping today’s young athletes.”
Here is what Miller had to say in an interview about Terry with Brian Jeffries, which is embedded at the bottom of this transcript.
Miller on Terry’s past: “Jason Terry is somebody that I’ve gotten to know, like a lot of people here at the UA during my 11 years. At first, I was just a huge fan of his, anybody that’s 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds that can play in the NBA for 18 seasons. Right now, he’s seventh all-time in NBA history in 3-pointers made. He’s an NBA world champion. He’s an NBA Sixth Man of the Year. He’s the epitome of unselfishness when you look at his college career at Arizona, where during our national championship season in 1997, he was a big reason why Arizona won the national championship, but yet he didn’t start.
“During that same career here, he went from a non-starter and a national champion to the National Player of the Year. Patience, hard work, he’s just unselfish. These are the characteristics that you think about. And then before he ever came to Arizona, we’ve had way more higher decorated recruits than Jason Terry would have been when he came here, yet he was a high school state champion at Franklin High School in Seattle, Washington. So think about high school state champion, college national champion, National Player of the Year, NBA Sixth Man of the Year, NBA World Champion, an NBA veteran of 18 years, and somebody who loves the Wildcats.”
Miller on Terry’s passion for the game: “When you think of Jason Terry, don’t you think about somebody who just loves the game of basketball? So when you combine everything that I’ve talked about, he’s been there and done it 1,000 times over, yet I think that he would love, and I know he would love, to be in the gym with our players. Imagine him working out with our guards. And I think the other part of it is, our program is not bipartisan. It’s not those that played here for Coach (Lute) Olson or before I ever showed up. And it won’t be when future players come in and I’m no longer here, whenever that day is. If you’re a Wildcat, and you played in this basketball program, you played it McKale Center, and you played in the Pac-10 Conference, Pac-12 Conference, you have goosebumps when you think about this basketball program, Tucson, Arizona, what this community meant to you. I want to bring as many of those types of players back to be a part of our future as I can.”
Miller on Damon Stoudamire once being on Arizona’s staff and Terry bringing similar things to the program: “Damon Stoudamire obviously he was with us for two years. Think about Damon, he won 67 games in the two years he was an assistant coach here. He went back to work with Josh Pastner, and man is he doing a great job at Pacific. So with JT, to be able to bring him here, it helps us. I also know it’ll help him. And I know our community and our fans will be excited. But as much as I want to do it just for our fans and community, and believe me, I think about that, what I really think about is his impact in recruiting, coaching and helping today’s young athletes.
“Because when they start talking about making the jump from college basketball, and leaving the U of A and becoming a part of the NBA, I’m just going to point over and say, ‘you need to talk to him.’ What hasn’t he seen? And what can’t he tell them from an experience perspective that they’re going to need to know that they’re not going to be able to get through his knowledge? So I’m thrilled to add him. You know, he has five daughters and they are all hoopers. They love the game and I know that him and his wife and his family are thrilled to come back to Tucson.”
Miller on Terry returning to get his degree in 2014: “Through our CATS Forever program, he came back and finished his undergraduate degree...which is something we’re really proud of here. We do an amazing job of reaching out to our former players and allowing them to finish their degree.”
Miller on former undergraduate assistant Joseph Blair taking a similar path: “When [he] was here for two years, JB got his undergraduate degree and he gained a love for the game of basketball that he didn’t really have from a coaching pedigree perspective. He’s a G League coach. He’s a G league Coach of the Year. Right now, he’s an assistant coach in the NBA.
“I think if you talk to Joseph, he’ll tell you if he didn’t come back to the U of A to work on his undergraduate degree—and that’s all he did, that was his means to an end just to be a part of our program and get his degree and that was it—but he found that he had a love for this game in a way of helping young people. And it wouldn’t surprise me if JB isn’t an NBA head coach, like Steve Kerr and Luke Walton.”