When the news that Sean Miller’s time at Arizona was coming to a close on Wednesday morning, there wasn’t too much shock among the college basketball world.
Miller, long engulfed in NCAA violations and a recruiting scandal, was finally shown the door in Tucson. It didn’t come without a hefty buyout though, as the former head coach is reportedly receiving $1.5 million of the remaining $2.5 million on his contract.
It wasn’t so much a matter of if he was going to be let go, it was more a matter of when, and following the dismissal of Miller, that question is being thrown around even more. The lingering question mark among many Wildcat supporters is, “What took so long?”.
That was one thing that Athletic Director Dave Heeke addressed in his meeting with media on Tuesday afternoon following Miller’s firing.
“Why now? These are difficult decisions. There’s never a perfect time but after the conclusion of the season and taking the time to evaluate all of the factors and considering that very closely and having the appropriate conversations and consulting with President Robbins, we just concluded it was time for a fresh start,” Heeke said. “It was time to make a change.”
As for who the next man at the helm will be, there’s a number of intriguing options around the country. With NCAA violations swirling around the program though, it will be a challenge with recruiting and building the program back up.
Even with a roster primarily full of international players and transfers this past season, the Wildcats managed to go 17-9 and exceed expectations in what was assumed to be a “down year”.
Nevertheless, with a self-imposed postseason ban and possibly more sanctions expected in the future, the problems off the court were a dark cloud for any success that happened on the actual hardwood in 2020.
The history and legacy of Arizona’s basketball program is still intact, but the program is going to need a clean up to get back to relevancy in the national college basketball scene.
In a story by college basketball insider Jeff Goodman, some names he threw out for the vacancy were Damon Stoudamire (Pacific HC), Miles Simon (Lakers assistant), Josh Pastner (Georgia Tech HC) and Tommy Lloyd (Gonzaga assistant).
In the case of Stoudamire, Pastner, and Simon, all three are former Wildcats who could possibly follow a trend among head coaches in college basketball.
Recently among many college hoops blue bloods, many new coaches have been alums, similar to Juwan Howard (Michigan), Hubert Davis (North Carolina), and Mike Woodson (Indiana). Could Heeke be following the same trend? Only time will tell, but it’s an interesting dynamic.
“There’s certainly some incredibly outstanding individuals that are in the game of basketball that have had a huge impact on our program here and continue to do that throughout the coaching ranks,” Heeke said. “I would assume that they would be very viable candidates for this and it’s a high-level job, a high-level program, and our interest will come from a variety of places. Our goal is to find the right person that is the right fit for Arizona basketball.”