Tommy Lloyd, a key in the Gonzaga University machine throughout the 21st century, is leaving the program to become the next University of Arizona men’s basketball coach.
The Pac-12 Conference school made the blockbuster announcement on Wednesday. Lloyd agreed to a five-year contract to coach Arizona.
Lloyd, 46, replaces scandal-tainted bench boss Sean Miller, who was fired last week after 12 seasons at the helm. The Wildcats appear in the NCAA Tournament seven times, including three Elite Eight appearances, during Miller’s tenure. The Wildcats had a one-season self-imposed postseason ban this year following an FBI bribery probe. They had a 17-9 record.
In a statement, Lloyd expressed gratitude to University of Arizona President Robert Robbins and athletics director Dave Heeke. He also outlined the challenge that lies ahead in his first head-coaching gig.
“While there are certainly potential obstacles ahead for our program, I embrace the challenge as we will build on the foundation in place to compete for Pac-12 and national championships,” Lloyd said in a statement. “I know how much Arizona basketball means to the institution, its fans, its community and the state, and I cannot wait to get started. That works begin now. My family and I are excited to settle in Tucson and begin a new chapter.”
Former Wildcats players Jason Terry, Miles Simon and Damon Stoudamire, all of whom starred under the late, legendary Lute Olson, were among a big pool of candidates to replace Miller. University of Arkansas mentor Eric Musselman was also in the mix.
Tommy Lloyd, a great recruiter
Lloyd spent 20 years at Gonzaga,, the first season as an administrative assistant, where he served as longtime sideline supervisor Mark Few’s top recruiter. With a keen eye for talent, Lloyd brought in international standouts (Domantas Sabonis, Ronny Turiaf, Robert Sacre and Rui Hachimura, among others) and American stars.
Now, Lloyd is ready to build his own program.
Working under Few, Tommy Lloyd experienced sustained excellence and a tradition of winning. Nineteen West Coast Conference titles. Fifteen WCC Tournament crowns. Twenty consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and two tourney runner-up finishes (2017, 2021). Baylor topped top-seeded Gonzaga in last week’s title match.
The Bulldogs thrived in the international recruiting game during Lloyd’s time in Spokane, Washington. Moreover, he also had success signing top Americans like Jalen Suggs in recent years.
Lloyd explained Gonzaga’s recruiting approach in an interview with ESPN last year.
“What’s that saying? ‘Necessity is the mother of invention,'” Lloyd told the sports media giant. “We needed players, good players because we wanted to build this program. And we were worried at the time, some kids might not think Gonzaga was established enough and they might say they wanted to go to the Pac-10, I don’t want to go to little ol’ Gonzaga … We had to think outside the box, we had to fish in waters that others weren’t.”
A well-respected coach
Within the coaching fraternity, Lloyd is a well-respected figure.
Just ask longtime Gonzaga basketball reporters Jim Meehan, who writes for The Spokesman-Review, the Arizona Daily Star reported.
“He’s a popular candidate for a lot of the jobs that have opened up for years,” Meehan told Arizona Sports Radio. “But he has it in his contract that he’s the coach-in-waiting behind Mark Few. The catch there is, how long are you waiting?”
Stadium Basketball Insider Jeff Goodman’s report on Tommy Lloyd’s move to Arizona highlighted the respect that former Zags players have for his hoop expertise.
“He looks at the game differently than almost any coach I’ve been around in his attention to detail and how to implement his philosophies, especially with player development,” ex-Bulldogs star Dan Dickau, who now works as a TV commentator, told Goodman. “His ability to evaluate and recruit and blend international talent has really helped Gonzaga become what it has become.”