New Arizona Wildcats assistant Jason Terry is entering his first season as a college basketball coach, but it turns out he actually tried entering the industry in 2016.
In March of that year, the Stanford Cardinal hired Jerod Haase away from UAB and Terry, 39 at the time, was willing to walk away from his NBA career to be the Blazers’ new head coach. He interviewed for the position (and well, according to him) but was turned down in favor of Haase’s top assistant Robert Ehsan (who was fired this spring).
Terry returned to the NBA for two more seasons, both with the Milwaukee Bucks, more determined than ever to coach one day.
“From that day forward I dedicated my time to being in coaching meetings, video meetings, helping practice plan and prepare scouting, to prepare for when it was going to be my time to be a coach whether it’d be at the NBA level or the collegiate level,” Terry said in an interview with Pac-12 Network’s Yogi Roth. “And so in that preparation the fire just kept burning and burning. I finally retired after my 19th season from the Milwaukee Bucks. I spent time as the assistant general manager with the Texas Legends and just continued to learn the business side of basketball.”
Terry already had some coaching experience in the form of AAU basketball but he was green when it came to college basketball, so he said he picked the brains of Damon Stoudamire, who’s now the head coach at Pacific, and former Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood and assistant coach Jay John to get some insight into the industry.
Then last fall Terry, with the help of UA associate head coach Jack Murphy, set up a meeting with Arizona head coach Sean Miller where he expressed his interest in joining the staff.
Miller told Terry that if there was ever an opening, he would be No. 1 on Arizona’s list. Sure enough, Justin Gainey left for Marquette in April.
“The rest is history,” Terry said.