The Arizona Wildcats retained assistant coaches Jack Murphy and Jason Terry to work under Tommy Lloyd, but his latest staff additions have ties to Gonzaga.
TJ Benson will serve as special assistant to the head coach/recruiting coordinator, Ken Nakagawa will be the director of advanced scouting and Rem Bakamus is joining as the director of player development.
Here’s more about each of them, courtesy of the UA press release:
Benson, a native of Tempe, Arizona, arrives in Tucson after serving as the Coordinator of Basketball Administration at Gonzaga for the 2020-21 season. At Gonzaga, Benson was responsible for non-conference game scheduling and streamlining the day-to-day operations of the program. He assisted with scouting, recruiting activities and the development of All-Americans, Joel Ayayi, Jalen Suggs and Drew Timme.
Prior to that, he spent seven seasons with the men’s basketball program at Grand Canyon University, serving as an assistant coach and director of operations. As an assistant with the Lopes, Benson helped recruit the two highest rated recruits in program history – Tim Finke and Jovan Blacksher Jr. As GCU transitioned to Division I, they won 81 games in their first four years, the most ever by a D1 transition team. Benson played a large part in the development of 13 All-Conference players, many of whom played or are currently playing professionally. Prior to his time at GCU, Benson was the assistant director of basketball operations at Boise State in 2011-12.
As a student-athlete, Benson played at Weber State and Grand Canyon. At Weber State, he played in the 2007 NCAA Tournament and 2009 NIT before moving on to GCU and being named Second Team Pacific West Conference in 2009-10. Benson also played professionally in Brazil during the 2010-11 season, guiding Tijuca Tenis Clube to the Brazil Super Cup championship.
He earned his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Weber State in 2009 and a master’s degree from GCU in Marketing. He attended Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, Arizona.
Lloyd on Benson: “TJ and I worked together the last two seasons at Gonzaga, but we have had a strong relationship prior to that, going back to his time as an assistant at GCU. He was a great asset to the program at Gonzaga and I’m thrilled he is joining our staff here at Arizona. He has a wide range of experience and is from the state of Arizona so it’s great that he is able to come back home and help our program.”
Nakagawa spent the last five seasons as part of the Gonzaga University men’s basketball program, serving as a graduate assistant for two seasons (2016-18) and video coordinator the last three years (2018-21). Prior that, he was a student manager and graduate assistant for Dan Monson at Long Beach State University from 2011-16. He has also worked with the Japanese Basketball Association as an intern in 2017 and assistant video coordinator in 2018. He earned his undergraduate degree in Kinesiology from Long Beach State in 2016 and a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga in 2018.
Lloyd on Nakagawa: “Ken was an integral part of the Gonzaga program the last five seasons as a graduate assistant and video coordinator. He works as hard as anyone in our program and I’m happy to have him with us in Tucson.”
Bakamus (pronounced BACK-uh-muss) is a native of Longview, Washington and is the son of Washington high school hall of fame coach, Bill Bakamus. He was a member of the Gonzaga men’s basketball program as a walk-on for five seasons (2012-17). During his time at Gonzaga, he was a part of 161 wins, five WCC Championships and five NCAA tournaments appearances. For the last three seasons, he has served as a graduate assistant coach at Baylor University under head coach Scott Drew and was part of the staff that led the Bears to the 2021 NCAA National Championship. It marked his second appearance in the National Championship game after helping the Zags to their first-ever appearance in the title game in 2017 as a player. At Baylor, he assisted in the development of Baylor guards Davion Mitchell, MaCio Teague, Jared Butler, Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer.
Lloyd on Bakamus: “Rem brings a ton of energy and excitement to everything he does. From being a walk-on at Gonzaga to helping Baylor win a national title this past season, he knows how to impact winning. He will be an outstanding resource for our players because he has a great ability to relate to them on a personal level and I look forward to watching him continue to grow in this role.”