Thursday afternoon, April 15, the University of Arizona held an introductory press conference to welcome new head men’s basketball coach Tommy Lloyd into their program and the city of Tucson.
President Dr. Robert C. Robbins, alongside athletic director Dave Heeke, introduced Lloyd to the media and fans watching at home as they answered questions from the media in McKale Center.
Lloyd was expected to be next in line for the head coaching job at Gonzaga, but he had his sights set on Arizona.
“This is the only place I would ever leave Gonzaga to come to be the head coach at the University of Arizona,” Lloyd said. “As it became a reality, it’s something I’ve wrapped my arms around, and I can’t wait to start this adventure.”
Lloyd is known for being one of the best recruiters in the country, but after coaching at Gonzaga, his mindset has changed a bit. He has recruited and coached many NBA players like Kelly Olynyk, Rui Hachimura and Domantas Sabonis.
“The recruiting game has changed so much in the last eight or 10 years, and it always seems to be evolving,” Lloyd said. “I think you’ve just got to give yourself options, and you’ve got to stay ahead of the curve.”
Lloyd noted that since the high school talent in Spokane, Washington is not as prominent, he has had to look at players from junior colleges, transfers and overseas as he looked to find the best talent wherever it may be.
“Spokane is a great place to live, but it’s not necessarily a hotbed for high school basketball,” Lloyd said, “so we had to go out and think differently to be different, to get the level of players to compete nationally. We utilized the international market, and I was able to spearhead that.”
So far, five players from last season’s team have either transferred, entered the transfer portal or entered their name into the upcoming NBA Draft. Only two of those players have yet to make a final decision, James Akinjo and Kerr Kriisa. K.J. Simpson, who committed to Arizona and was set to join the program in the 2021-22 season, opened up his recruitment and is unsure where he wants to play next year.
“Sean [Miller] left a really good foundation to build upon,” Lloyd said. “I hope that a lot of those guys decide to stay, but I don’t want to make any predictions until I’ve sat down with guys one-on-one.”
As for his coaching staff, Lloyd didn’t give any specific names but made clear hints that there will be alumni on the staff as he cherishes this program's history.
“I’ve definitely talked to a few people that I’d love to be on my staff, but I haven’t overloaded my staff because I want to get my feet on the ground here and get to know people,” Lloyd said. “I think it’s really important to have Arizona ties within my staff, so I want to take my time, meet some people and make the right decisions moving forward. But I think you’re definitely gonna see some Arizona flavor on it for sure.”
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