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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Sean Miller believes new assistant coaches can provide stability

Simon Asher
Arizona guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright listens as Sean Miller yells out a play toward the end of the UA-UMBC game on Nov 12. The Wildcats have averaged 102 points per game through the early part of the season.

Arizona men’s basketball coach Sean Miller recently hired two new assistant coaches, Danny Peters and Justin Gainey, both of whom he has worked with before. 

Peters was previously on Miller’s staff at Arizona during the two Elite Eight seasons of 2014 and 2015, while Gainey was at North Carolina State when Miller was an assistant for the Wolfpack in the late 90s. 

“The two that we brought back are on the younger side, which I think gives us the most stability that we can have. I think it’s awesome when coaches leave your program to become head coaches and we’ve had several do that,” Miller said.

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“Each of them did an excellent job while they were here, but right now, I think the stability, the continuity — younger coaches are going to build their track record at Arizona and are here for multiple years — we have that with both Danny Peters and Justin Gainey.”

The two new hires will be crucial to how Arizona develops the raw and unproven talent that the Wildcat roster has from top to bottom, including former top-50 recruits Brandon Randolph and Emmanuel Akot, as well as former McDonalds All-American Chase Jeter (who sat out a year after transferring from Duke). 

Brandon Randolph, left, and Emmanuel Akot, right, watch with pride as a foul is called on Oregon late in the UA-Oregon game.
Brandon Randolph, left, and Emmanuel Akot, right, watch with pride as a foul is called on Oregon late in the UA-Oregon game.

The cupboards are filled with moldable pieces, which means Miller and his new staff will be judged by the strides these players make from now until next March. And this isn’t the typical Sean Miller-type recruiting class; no top 10 players committed in UA’s 2018 class, which makes it one of Miller’s lowest-ranked since arriving at Arizona.

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We won’t know until November whether the player development has taken place, but on the recruiting side, Peters and Gainey have been working all over the summer camp circuits, handing out scholarship offers to almost 15 of the top prospects across the classes of 2019 to 2021. How the new coaches are able to recruit in the early going may be a barometer of success for future classes.

Arizona faced several obstacles with its assistant coaches last year. None was bigger than the arrest of Book Richardson, who was led out of his home last October by the FBI for allegedly taking $20,000 to help direct Arizona players about to turn pro to a certain sports agency. Mark Phelps, who is still on staff, was suspended for five days in November for violating NCAA rules. Lorenzo Romar officially took the head coaching position at Pepperdine University a day after Arizona won the Pac-12 Tournament in March.

Miller has been able to weather the storm over the last several months and, with the hires of Danny Peters and Justin Gainey, he looks to guide the program to calmer waters.

Follow David Skinner on Twitter

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