Wednesday was Arizona’s annual Media Day event, an opportunity for reporters to hear not just from new coach Tommy Lloyd but from the players he’ll be in charge of this season.
The Wildcats’ 2021-22 roster, which includes quite a few new faces for UA fans, is almost entirely new to Lloyd, as only Gonzaga transfer Oumar Ballo has ever played for Lloyd.
Though official preseason practice began Tuesday, Lloyd has been working informally with some or all of his players since the spring. Here’s what some had to say Wednesday about their coach:
On how Lloyd made him feel wanted during the re-recruitment process: “I think the second time around was more of a, okay, this guy probably could helps us win.”
On why he followed Lloyd from Gonzaga to Arizona: “I was in the portal before he got the job, and once he got the job down he wanted me to come. He was like, ‘yeah, I’ve known you for so long it will be easier for you.’”
On Lloyd’s success recruiting international players: “I think he’s just a good guy. The thing that makes him unique is the relationships he builds with international guys, he always tries to feel at home, not make them feel homesick. He’s always been loyal to us. I think if you find someone who is loyal to you, not only on the court but off the court that’s a wise person to stick around.”
On playing fast: “I do think Tommy wants to play faster. He wants to get the ball up, a lot of passing ahead, so I’m still getting used to that, just because when I see havoc and I see things break down offensively I tend to slow it down just to make sure everybody’s good. But he doesn’t want that, he wants us to go.”
On having higher expectations placed on him, being a sixth-year senior: “My job here is to learn faster than most. I’m an older guy. He expects me to know it on the fly.”
On being uncertain about having a new coach and considering the transfer portal: “I didn’t know anything about Coach Tommy, so when it first happened I was like, what should I do next? But I had three meetings with Coach Tommy and he convinced me to stay.”
On what Lloyd said, or did, to convince him: “Just his vision of the game, the way he wants to play, the way he’s going to use me. He’s a winner, he comes from a winning program. I trust him.”
On Lloyd convincing him to withdraw from the NCAA transfer portal: “It was everything about Tommy. The way he plays, the way he talked to me, how he sees me on the team, how he sees the whole team as a unit, what he wants to change here. All these kinds of things really got me excited and I wanted to stay here after that.”
On learning his scheme: “I think it’s been better than I expected. I kind of know all his concepts already. It hasn’t been too hard.”
On sticking with Lloyd and the new staff despite them not recruiting him: “I did a little bit of research, obviously, about them beforehand. When they were interested me in still coming here this year I was obviously excited.”
On the bond he’s already built with Lloyd: “Tommy loves me and I love him. Tommy showed me what I need to do to get where I want to go. I’m locked into him, he’s locked into me.”