Saying he had “no interest” in the Pittsburgh head coaching job Tuesday, Arizona coach Sean Miller put a quick end to social media buzz that he might return to his alma mater.
Miller posted a short statement to Twitter just after a Pittsburgh TV station reported without attribution that he was in Pittsburgh and thinking about the job, which opened Monday when Jamie Dixon left for TCU.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for the University and the city of Pittsburgh,” Miller wrote. “My memories and friendships of my time as a student-athlete are the best and strongest of my lifetime.
“However, I have one of the great jobs in college basketball at Arizona. I have no interest in becoming the head coach at Pitt. I wish them luck in replacing Jamie Dixon, a tremendous coach and person, who did an incredible job in his time there.”
UA responded to the report that Miller was in Pittsburgh by releasing a photo taken Tuesday that showed him walking outside of McKale Center. The photo and Miller’s statement prompted another flurry of social media buzz, this time attacking the initial TV report.
Deadspin even titled a post saying, “Where in the World Is Sean Miller? (Not in Pittsburgh, Sorry Guy).”
Miller expressed interest in Maryland’s vacancy in 2011, then said he would not become “that guy” linked to an open job every spring. He has lived up to that vow, even as the Wildcats won Pac-12 titles and reached the 2014 and 2015 Elite Eights.
Miller has also spoken repeatedly about how much he likes the Tucson weather, and of his family’s fondness for Arizona, despite having deep roots in the Pittsburgh area. Miller played for his father at Blackhawk High School outside of Pittsburgh before playing collegiately at Pitt.
“I’ve lived in the East for 40 years,” Miller said in 2011, when he called a news conference to discuss his decision to stay at Arizona. “Is that something that means something? Yes. But my wife loves Tucson, Arizona. Just so you know, one of the big reasons we are here today is because of her, not just when we left Cincinnati (in April 2009), but in the fact that we’re here today.”
Miller also has plenty of financial incentive to stay put. He earned $2.57 million this season despite not hitting most of his performance incentives, and will collect a retention bonus of $2.1 million if he stays at Arizona until April 30. UA has been allocating $300,000 per year to his retention fund since he was hired in 2009 from Xavier.
Miller will also collect another $3.96 million (at the current market price) from a booster-funded, stock-based retention plan if he stays at UA until 2020.
There’s incentive on the floor, too. While Miller could lose half his 2015-16 roster this spring, he has commitments from five-star talents Lauri Markkanen, Rawle Alkins and Kobi Simmons already and remains in the mix for elite talents Josh Jackson and Terrance Ferguson this spring.
• Jackson is expected to formalize a plan to decide and announce his college choice during his spring break, which begins today and continues through April 4. He will play for his Prolific Prep team in the Grind Session Nationals in Lawrence, Kansas, this weekend. Alkins also will be playing in the tournament for North Carolina’s Word of God, though in the opposite bracket.
Jackson will join Simmons in the McDonald’s All American Game on March 30 in Chicago. Alkins is not eligible for the McDonald’s game as a fifth-year high school senior.
• Draft Express moved UA’s Allonzo Trier from No. 31 to 36 in its 2017 mock NBA draft, and Markkanen is at No. 25. There are no UA players listed in Draft Express’ 2016 mock draft, though Kaleb Tarczewski is listed at No. 45 by NBAdraft.net.