A little under a year ago, Jason Gardner resigned as the head coach at IUPUI after being arrested for drunk driving.
Now he’s getting a fresh start at his old stomping grounds.
On Wednesday, the former Arizona Wildcats point guard was approved as the new boys basketball coach at North Central High School in Indianapolis, where he won a state championship in 1999 on his way to being named Indiana’s Mr. Basketball.
Gardner said in an interview with The Indy Star that he has spent the last year reflecting on his mistakes at IUPUI, and is excited to be back in coaching, especially at his alma mater, where he said he’s “always wanted to coach.”
“It was something that I didn’t shy away from. It was a mistake that I made, but at the same time, I’m past it,” Gardner said. “That was almost a year ago now and I’m ready to get back at it. I miss being on that sideline and being there for the kids. It was tough. You build your name up and make a mistake and you look back and wish you could take it back. But again, I’ve had great family support and some very good friends and coaches and mentors that have helped me, so there’s also a big positive that comes from going through it.”
Gardner, 39, went 64-93 in five losing seasons at IUPUI. Before that he had short stints as an assistant at Memphis and Loyola Chicago.
Gardner played at Arizona from 1999 to 2003, departing as one of the most decorated players in program history.
The diminutive point guard was an All-American and all-conference player, and led the Wildcats to a Final Four, including the 2001 national championship game when they lost to the Duke Blue Devils.
Altogether, Gardner averaged 14.6 points and 4.6 assists across 136 career games. He still holds the school records for games started (135), average minutes per game (35.5) and career minutes (4,285).
Gardner’s best individual season came as a junior when he averaged 20.4 points and 4.6 assists per game while shooting 43 percent from the field and 39 percent from 3.
Gardner never got a shot in the NBA, but enjoyed a long career overseas, with stops in Slovenia, Belgium, Israel, Australia and Germany.