Arizona hires longtime Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd as head coach

Sam Cooper
·3 min read

Arizona has identified its replacement for Sean Miller.

The school announced Wednesday evening that it has hired Tommy Lloyd as its next men’s basketball coach. Lloyd has been an assistant coach at Gonzaga under Mark Few for the last 20 years.

Lloyd, 46, has long been Few’s top assistant and even had an agreement to be the head coach-in-waiting at Gonzaga for the day Few decided to retire. Instead of waiting for that day to come, Lloyd is headed to Arizona for his first-ever head-coaching gig just a few weeks after Gonzaga lost in the national championship game to Baylor.

As soon as the Arizona job came open last week, Lloyd was identified in media reports as one of the school’s top targets. Arizona also spoke to several of its alums about the position, reportedly including Damon Stoudamire, Jason Terry and Josh Pastner. In the end, though, the school went with Lloyd.

"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," said Arizona AD Dave Heeke. "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."

Gonzaga assistant coach Tommy Lloyd, left, speaks with guard Josh Perkins (13) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against San Diego in Spokane, Wash., Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Gonzaga assistant coach Tommy Lloyd, left, speaks with guard Josh Perkins (13) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against San Diego in Spokane, Wash., Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

Lloyd inheriting messy situation at Arizona

Lloyd is inheriting a messy situation left behind by Miller. Arizona self-imposed a postseason ban during the 2020-21 season and has impending NCAA sanctions stemming from multiple violations alleged to have occurred under Miller’s watch. The school was hit with multiple Level I violations in the aftermath of the infamous federal college basketball corruption case.

During his 12 seasons in Tucson, Miller coached Arizona to seven NCAA tournaments, including three trips to the Elite Eight. The Wildcats lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament in 2016, lost in the Sweet 16 in 2017 and had another first-round exit in 2018. Miller’s team did not earn a bid in 2019 and the NCAA tournament was not played in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This most recent season, Arizona self-imposed a postseason ban. Because of that, the team’s season ended March 1. Still, it took more than a month for the Arizona administration to decide to move on from Miller, who had just one year remaining on his contract. Overall, Miller won five Pac-12 regular season titles and three Pac-12 tournaments while accumulating a 302-109 overall record during his time in Tucson.

"I am extremely grateful to President Robbins and Dave Heeke for the incredible opportunity to lead one of the country's most storied men's basketball programs. 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. "I know how much Arizona Basketball means to the institution, its fans, its community and the state, and I cannot wait to get started. That works begin now. My family and I are excited to settle in Tucson and begin a new chapter."

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