Arizona has found its new leader.
After a week-long search, the UA will hire longtime Gonzaga associate head coach Tommy Lloyd to replace Sean Miller. Lloyd becomes the third full-time coach to take the reins of the storied Arizona men’s basketball program since the late Hall of Famer Lute Olson accepted the job in 1983 — Miller being the other. Lloyd was viewed as one of the favorites to take the Arizona gig since Miller was fired April 7.
Lloyd leaves the Bulldogs, a program that’s been arguably the best in the West over the last decade-plus. He spent 20 years alongside Zags head coach Mark Few.
At Gonzaga, Lloyd helped guide the Bulldogs to an NCAA Tournament in every season he was on Few’s staff — including two Final Four trips and runner-up finishes in 2017 and '21. Gonzaga won 15 West Coast Conference championships during Lloyd’s stint in Spokane.
But who is Lloyd? Let’s start with these four facts:
1. He played small-time college basketball before joining coaching ranks
Lloyd graduated from Kelso High School in southwestern Washington near the Oregon border. From there, he attended Walla Walla Community College, earning All-Region honors in 1995. Lloyd remains the Walla Walla record-holder for most points (52) in a game. Lloyd then played one season at Colorado State-Pueblo but returned to Walla Walla to play his senior year at Whitman College. Lloyd played professionally in Germany and Australia after college.
2. He has heavy international recruiting ties.
Lloyd’s efforts on the recruiting trail helped the Zags land top-tier international prospects from all over the world, which bodes well for Arizona’s global roster. Lloyd was responsible for recruiting All-American and first-round draft pick Rui Hachimura (Japan), first-round pick Domantas Sabonis (Lithuania) and Canadians Kelly Olynyk and Kevin Pangos. Lloyd also attracted French stars Ronny Turiaf in 2001 and Killian Tillie in '16.
Lloyd will ensure Arizona continues to recruit abroad, something it began doing a year ago.
As of now now, the Wildcats have six scholarship players with international roots: Guard Kerr Kriisa (Estonia), forward Azuolas Tubelis (Lithuania), wing Bennedict Mathurin (Canada), center Christian Koloko (Cameroon), wing Tibet Gorener (Turkey) and forward Tautvilas Tubelis (Lituania).
Lloyd also recruits domestically. He was responsible for Gonzaga landing Brandon Clarke, Zach Collins, Kyle Wiltjer, Austin Daye, Adam Morrison and Jeremy Pargo.
3. His son, Liam, plays at GCU
Lloyd accepting the Arizona job means he’ll be closer to his son Liam. How close? Lloyd will just need to travel two hours by car up Interstate 10 rather than a plane ticket to visit his son, Liam Lloyd, who is a freshman basketball player for the Grand Canyon University Antelopes. Liam Lloyd scored over 1,000 points and won two state championships at Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, Wash. In his first season at GCU, Lloyd played in 13 games, and scored a season-high 15 points in a win over Bethesda, and finished with a 2.5 points-per-game average.
Lloyd and his wife, Chanelle, also have two daughters: Sophia Marie and Maria Alexis.
4. He's been successful against the Wildcats before.
Arizona is 6-4 all-time in the head-to-head matchup with Gonzaga that dates back to the 2000-01 season, the year before Lloyd joined Few’s staff. Gonzaga didn’t win its first game over the UA until 2011, before the Wildcats went on a three-game winning streak against the Zags during the height of the Miller era between 2014-15. Gonzaga has won the last three contests against the Wildcats, including the matchup at McKale Center during the 2019-20 season.
Contact sports content producer Justin Spears at 573-4312 or email@example.com. On Twitter @justinesports