Robbins, Heeke discuss Arizona's hiring of new head coach Tommy Lloyd
Arizona has secured its new head coach just a week after parting ways with 12-year coach Sean Miller. The Wildcats have named Gonzaga's top assistant, Tommy Lloyd, as the next leader of UA's men's basketball program as he steps into his first head coaching role after 20 seasons with the Bulldogs.
Lloyd remained atop the candidate list for UA since the onset of its search, but the program interviewed a handful of other coaches for the position including alums such as Miles Simon and Damon Stoudamire.
In the end, UA president Robert C. Robbins and athletic director Dave Heeke decided that Lloyd was the right man for the job heading into an important stretch for the program.
“I want to thank Dave Heeke for his leadership in this process and the many basketball experts, coaches and former players who provided us with invaluable advice,” Robbins said in a statement provided by the program. “Ultimately, Tommy rose to the top, and I am confident in the future of our men’s basketball program with him at the helm. With our women’s basketball program’s incredible run to the NCAA championship game just a week ago, and now with Tommy Lloyd taking the reins of our men’s program, I can proudly say Arizona Basketball is in good hands.”
Heeke led the interview process for UA with the help of a search firm and ultimately the administration decided that going outside the Wildcats family was the right decision for the future of the program.
“We are thrilled that Tommy and his family are joining the Wildcat Family and reestablishing our men’s basketball program among the elite in the nation,” Heeke said. “After speaking with a tremendous pool of candidates, and with so many in and out of the college basketball world, it became clear that Tommy has the passion, the experience, the knowledge, the coaching and recruiting acumen and the drive to lead us to championships.
"He has been a big part of the incredible rise and success of Gonzaga Basketball and is well-respected for his partnership with that program’s head coach, Mark Few. We are looking forward to what’s next, and we welcome Tommy, Chanelle and their children, Liam, Sophia Marie and Maria Alexis to Tucson.”
Lloyd will step into a less than ideal situation at Arizona as the Wildcats have not won an NCAA Tournament game since 2017 and are coming off a postseason ban stemming from the NCAA investigation into the program.
UA is still awaiting final word on its case that is currently going through the Independent Accountability Resolution process for complex infractions cases. The program is facing several Level I NCAA violations that could bring strong penalties for the Wildcats.
The team has is also in a state of flux as a few players have already decided to finish their careers elsewhere. Freshman guard Kerr Kriisa plans on entering his name into the NCAA Transfer Portal on Thursday while starting point guard James Akinjo has already declared for the 2021 NBA Draft, though he has left open the option to return to UA.
“While there are certainly potential obstacles ahead for our program, I embrace the challenge as we will build on the foundation in place to compete for PAC-12 and national championships," Lloyd said Wednesday .I know how much Arizona Basketball means to the institution, its fans, its community and the state, and I cannot wait to get started."
The new Arizona head coach will be introduced in a press conference at 1:30 p.m. MST on Thursday at McKale Center.
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