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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Now what?

    Now what?

    INDIANAPOLIS – The ball rests in his court.

    His move, arguably the most important in Arizona basketball history, could come soon.

    Everyone’s waiting.

    Waiting for some direction and some answers from UA athletic director Jim Livengood as to who will begin the next era of Arizona basketball.

    When asked Friday night in Indianapolis, Livengood said he had no timetable to hire a head coach.

    “”We still have a process we’re going through that’s ongoing”” Livengood. “”It’s just ongoing.””

    The only variable in Livengood’s coaching search that remains certain is the fact that UA interim head coach Russ Pennell and his staff have no plans to return.

    Both Pennell and UA associate head coach Mike Dunlap plan on cleaning out their offices very soon, both said after Friday’s loss to No. 1 seed Louisville in the Sweet 16.

    While the team has given overwhelming support and praise to the job Pennell has done this season, the interim head coach told his team not to waste their time lobbying for his return.

    “”Even if they tried to do that,”” Pennell said, “”I would tell them don’t.””

    Not only is the head coaching position a big question mark, but the status of Arizona’s Big Three will also be evaluated in the upcoming weeks – also a decision without a timetable.

    Jordan Hill, a projected top-5 NBA Draft pick, said the head coaching situation has no bearing on his decision.

    “”I don’t care who is the next coach,”” Hill said. “”I just go out there and play basketball.””

    On whether Friday night’s 103-64 loss to the Cardinals was his last game in an Arizona uniform, Hill said: “”I don’t know yet, man. I’ve got to get a decision on that, man. I really don’t know yet. I’m trying not to think about that right now.””

    UA wing Chase Budinger also took a wait-and-see approach as to whether he’ll return to the Wildcats next season. Last off-season, Budinger submitted his name to the NBA pre-Draft workouts, but never hired an agent and withdrew before the deadline to maintain his NCAA eligibility.

    This season, he is projected to be drafted in the same middle portion of the first round. Budinger has yet to commit on a decision.

    According to, Budinger is projected as the No. 11 selection to the New Jersey Nets.

    “”I’ve definitely gotta sit down and think of my options,”” Budinger said. “”But right now all that’s on my mind is getting rest. I think me going through the process last year gave me a heads up.””

    Added Pennell: “”I know that they’ll take some time with their families. They have to do what’s best for them. No one likes to see teams torn apart because of going to the NBA, but it’s part of the nature of basketball now, and it’s here to stay, and who are we to tell someone that they don’t need to go be a millionaire? I think if a guy is good enough to go play NBA basketball, he needs to go play NBA basketball.””

    UA point guard Nic Wise might also test the NBA waters. During the past week, national television analysis has referred to the Wildcats as having “”three”” NBA players, which would include Wise in the mix with projected lottery picks Budinger and Hill.

    In multiple online mock Drafts, Wise cannot be found in either the first or second rounds.

    “”I have no idea right now. I haven’t even thought about it. We just lost 20 minutes ago,”” Wise said after Friday’s game against Louisville. “”Everybody’s going to do what’s best for themselves. More power to everybody.

    “”Coaching staff is going to do what’s best for them as well,”” Wise added. “”Mr. Livengood is going to do what’s best for this organization.””

    Dunlap, who has two years’ experience with the Denver Nuggets, said if players want advice on the transition into the NBA that he would help – but only if they asked.

    When asked if Budinger and Hill are ready for the NBA, Dunlap said, “”Yes. It depends on how ready and also the calibration is where they go in the draft. They can cost them a lot of money if they’re not resourceful and go to different people.””

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