Arizona basketball assistant head coach Whitford pursues head coach opportunity at Ball State
For seven years, James Whitford has been the right hand man to Arizona head coach Sean Miller.
Now, he’s a head coach. Whitford was hired on Saturday to be the head coach for the Ball State Cardinals. He will be introduced as the head coach in a press conference on Wednesday.
“In my mind, Ball State offers the best combination of academic excellence, basketball tradition, outstanding arena and fan support of any school in the Mid-American Conference,” Whitford said in a statement. “When you add the unparalleled recruiting base in the state of Indiana and the great teaching those high school players receive from their various coaches, this job became one I targeted over the last few weeks.”
As Miller’s associate head coach, recruiting coordinator and primary coach for Arizona’s low-post players, Whitford has been a driving force behind the Wildcats’ impressive recruiting classes over the past few years, including the development of players like Derrick Williams and Kaleb Tarczewski.
Miller and his staff will begin their search for Whitford’s replacement immediately.
“James Whitford is a winner,” Miller said. “He has won championships at every level he has coached, including the Mid-American Conference.”
“James spearheaded our recruiting efforts at Arizona and was instrumental in landing some of the nation’s best recruiting classes,” Miller added. He is the most organized, relentless recruiter I have been around.”
Before spending four years on Miller’s staff at Arizona, and four years on his staff at Xavier, Whitford spent eight years as the top assistant to head coach Charlie Coles at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Whitford will be the 19th coach in Ball State history, after the Cardinals fired Billy Taylor following their early exit from the MAC Tournament. They went 15-15 (8-8 MAC) and missed the NCAA tournament for the 13th consecutive year.
Whitford is inheriting a roster that will lose only one of its top six scorers, Jauwan Scaife, to graduation.
“We are thrilled to add James Whitford to the Ball State family as our new men’s basketball head coach,” said Ball State athletic director Bill Scholl. “In a very talented pool of candidates, James separated himself from the pack based on the success he has experienced at multiple institutions and the vision he has for Ball State basketball.”