The talk that has been building for weeks came to a head Saturday just one day after the mandatory review period for the job was completed. Sean Miller got his man as the Wildcats announced the hiring of longtime Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar as the next associate head coach in Tucson.
“It’s an exciting day for Arizona Basketball to be able to welcome Lorenzo Romar and his family to our basketball family,” Miller said in a statement. “Lorenzo’s accomplishments in this game speak for themselves, including his successful tenure as the head coach at Washington for the last 15 seasons. However, his dedication to his players, passion for this game and impeccable character is what everybody that knows him loves about him. He will no doubt make a significant impact in all aspects of our basketball program as we continue to build and improve in all that we do.”
Ted S. Warren/AP
Romar was the longest-tenured head coach in the Pac-12 last season before Washington decided to part ways with him now he will join the new longest-tenured head coach at UA this season.
“Of all the potential opportunities that were out there for me, joining the Arizona program was the one that was the most appealing,” Romar said. “I truly believe Sean Miller is one of the best coaches in America. The opportunity to join him, his staff and the rich tradition of Arizona Basketball is something that I’m extremely excited about.”
A Compton, California native Romar has become one of the most well-respected coaches in college basketball and a coach recruits want to play for. He was a big reason the likely No. 1 pick in this year's NBA Draft, Markelle Fultz, ended up picking the Huskies over Arizona and that is just part of the recruiting story for Romar.
The former UW head coach went 298-196 over his 15 seasons in Seattle and earned the conference coach of the year award three times during that span. He had 13 players get drafted from Washington during that time with 10 of them being first-round selections. The Huskies went to the NCAA Tournament six times under Romar.
In addition to coaching at his alma mater for 15 seasons, Romar spent time as a head coach at St. Louis and Pepperdine as well. He was an assistant at UCLA from 1992-96 and was part of Jim Harrick's staff that eventually helped the Bruins win the National Title in 1995.
Despite their seemingly different demeanors Miller and Romar have always shared a bond and the UA head coach has always been complimentary of the former Washington head coach over the years they have competed against one another.
"I think it says a lot about their coach when this late in the year and a lot of things haven't gone well for them that they played so well and so hard," Miller said after Arizona beat the Huskies earlier this year.
Those types of comments have not been uncommon for Miller and now Romar will be part of his staff that could take the on-court product along with the recruiting efforts to a new level.
In addition to landing Fultz last year the Huskies also at one point held a commitment from 2017's top prospect Michael Porter Jr. prior to Washington parting ways with Romar. His abilities as a recruiter will only help further UA's stranglehold on many top prospects in the West and in particular will open up the Wildcats to the Seattle area even more.
Romar will replace departed associate head coach Joe Pasternack who moved on to a head coaching position at UC Santa Barbara.