It took a lot less time for the Arizona Wildcats to find their next men’s basketball coach than it did to decide it needed a new one in the first place, though it probably seemed like forever.
Arizona has officially announced the hire of longtime Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd as the program’s next head coach, doing so less a week after parting ways with Sean Miller after 12 seasons. Jeff Goodman of Stadium first reported the news earlier Wednesday.
Welcome, Coach Lloyd! #BearDown— Arizona Basketball (@APlayersProgram) April 14, 2021
: https://t.co/WQZAqfMWkP pic.twitter.com/ssQN3fhZwy
Lloyd, 46, has spent the past 21 seasons at Gonzaga, the last 20 as an assistant coach and associate head coach, helping the Bulldogs win nearly 600 games and reach the NCAA final twice in the past five seasons.
As head coach Mark Few’s top assistant, Lloyd has developed a reputation for bringing international players to the Pacific Northwest, including the likes of Rui Hachimura, Przemek Karnowski, Kelly Olynyk, Domantas Sabonis, Robert Sacre, Killian Tillie and Ronny Turiaf as well as current Gonzaga players Joel Ayayi and Oumar Ballo.
Lloyd replaces Miller, 52, who went 302-109 overall and 150-68 in Pac-10/12 play from 2009-21 with at least a share of five regular season conference titles, three Pac-12 Tournament championships, five Sweet 16 appearances and three trips to the Elite Eight.
Arizona was 17-9 overall and 11-9 in the Pac-12 this past season, finishing fifth in the league. The Wildcats self-imposed a postseason ban in late December, or else they were likely to make the NCAA tourney, but their absence meant the program hadn’t been in the field since 2018 when a team led by future No. 1 NBA pick Deandre Ayton was upset by No. 13 seed Buffalo in the first round.
The UA’s last game of the 2020-21 season was March 1, though the school did not fire Miller until April 7, a span of more than five weeks in which dozens of Division I programs made coaching changes.
Lloyd takes over a program that’s awaiting word from the NCAA about sanctions stemming from five Level I violation allegations, including one against Miller for failing to promote compliance as well as a lack of institutional control charge against the school. The self-imposed ban was meant to serve as a proactive measure against those pending sanctions.
Additionally, Lloyd faces the possibility of major turnover of a roster that was expected to stay mostly intact had Miller returned. Four players have already entered the NCAA transfer portal, including redshirt junior guard Jemarl Baker Jr., and freshman forward Daniel Batcho, while redshirt sophomore point guard James Akinjo is testing the NBA Draft waters and incoming freshman guard KJ Simpson has asked out of his national letter of intent.
Arizona has not released its nonconference schedule for 2021-22 yet, but it is tentatively scheduled to visit Gonzaga on Nov. 12 or 13. That would be the Wildcats’ second game under Lloyd following the projected opener Nov. 9 against NAU at McKale Center.
With Jedd Fisch taking over the football program in December and now Lloyd coming in to coach men’s basketball, Arizona will have first-year head coaches in both sports for the first time since 1973.